Heralded as the 'jewel' of Chico California, The Hotel Diamond is changing the face of downtown and setting the standard for California's finest accommodations in this charming college community. The copper topped cupola calls out from atop the grand building and can be seen from many vantage points around town. Embracing history doesn't have to mean sacrificing luxury. The Hotel Diamond has been completely reconstructed from the ground up. Every contemporary convenience upscale travelers demand has been installed in the hotel's 43 rooms and suites. Fine craftsmanship has been a pivotal driving force in the hotel's reconstruction. Original style crown moldings, fine walnut cabinetry, custom made and designed especially for the hotel artisan furniture combine to create a warm, rich and inviting environment.
Just steps from Chico State University, Chico, the hotel is superbly accessible. Guests can enjoy gourmet comfort food in the hotel's locally owned and operated Johnnie's Restaurant and Lounge. Shopping, dining, jogging trails and the acclaimed Bidwell Park are within easy strolling distance.
Relax in the lap of luxury at The Hotel Diamond in Chico California.
HistoryThe Hotel Diamond opened for business on September 3, 1904, as the "only strictly first-class house in Chico, and the superior of any North of Sacramento." * Built by James Franklin Morehead, the three-story hotel offered 56 rooms and a commodious dining room accommodating 200 guests at one time. The 1904 Chico-Record newspaper describes in great detail, the lay-out, deluxe furnishings, and state-of-the art mechanical systems. The hotel had both gas and electric light fixtures, steam heat, and private baths with hot and cold water. The hallways were wainscoted in lincrusta and each room laid "with velvet carpet of high grade." The Diamond also showcased one of the first automobiles in Chico. A 'handsome' sixteen-passenger 1904 Studebaker wagonette ferried guests to and from the train depot on Fifth Street.
Newspaper articles of the day and historic accounts establish the Diamond as an elegant hotel, bar, and restaurant which became 'The' center of Chico's fashionable social life. "The hotel became famous throughout Northern California. There were many glittering dinner parties and dances, rich enough to lure guests from as far away as San Francisco." The Diamond Café was described as "richly-fashioned with crystal chandeliers, white linen, polished silver, white-jacketed waiters, and live orchestras which rendered 'sweet strains' from 6 to 10pm."
Not all of the activities at the Diamond were dignified, formal affairs. Several articles cite a reputation for boisterous indulgence and free spirited living. One story cites the time "one of Chico's gayest blades rode a white horse into the ballroom during one of the year's most elegant parties." Other early accounts of colorful celebrations led certain factions of the religious community to complain of the 'goings on' at the Diamond. The law intervened to cite the Diamond manager for after hours liquor violations. A raid on a card game behind the bar led to several arrests for illegal gambling. In 1911, a special Grand Jury was formed to 'probe into alleged immorality' at the Diamond. Although not much more seemed to come of the Grand Jury investigation, clearly certain locals thought the patrons were having too much fun and the Diamond Hotel a little too much 'full service'.
The reign of the Diamond was a relatively short 12 years, as a major fire in 1916 closed the doors. Sanborn fire maps of 1921 show the first floor next used as a feed and seed store with rooms to let above. In the mid 1920's, the building again became a hotel known as The Travelers. The elegance of the Diamond was long gone, replaced by the Park and Oaks hotels which were built shortly after the fire.
The Travelers Hotel operated from the 1920's through the 1950's as a low cost hotel with a small restaurant and bar. During WWII, the bar was a local favorite outfitted as the 'Hawaiian Room'. In approximately 1956, the bar/restaurant changed to Mr. G's Supper Club until 1961, when it became the very popular Mike & Eddy's restaurant. After 15 years of operation, Mike & Eddy's became Delancy's from 1976 to 1984. Although Mike & Eddy's and Delancy's both enjoyed tremendous popularity through their 23 year period, the restaurant closed solely because of major problems with the building.
From 1961 to 1966, Chico State College, sanctioned the use of the rooms upstairs as approved, supervised housing for first and second year female students. When the college abandoned this use, in 1966, the rooms were let sporadically for a few years, but completely abandoned by 1972.
In 1987, the deteriorated building was partially demolished, plastered shut, and abandoned. During this time, the building further deteriorated with the intrusion of weather, hundreds of pigeons, and was generally regarded as an unsalvageable blight.
In 2001, the building was purchased by local businessman, Wayne Cook, who entertained the idea of resurrecting the historic carcass again as the Hotel Diamond. The project was completed in May, 2005.
*All quotations taken from articles in the Chico-Record and other historic accounts.