Tessie and Virginia Fair, daughters of 'Bonanza Jim' Fair, one of San Francisco's wealthiest citizens, were determined to construct a grand monument to their father, who had passed away in 1894.
In 1902, construction began on The Fairmont Hotel, but by 1906, it had become too much of a burden for the Fair sisters, and they sold it--on April 6, 1906.
On April 18--less than two weeks after the sale--at 5:13 a.m., an earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 on the Richter scale struck San Francisco.
Over the next nine decades, ownership changed and care of the hotel varied. In May of 1999, legions of craftsmen checked into the San Francisco landmark to recreate the vision for the 1907 hotel. Comparing the project to an archeological dig, the restoration team uncovered original marble floors, ornate domes and intricate design work throughout the historic hotel.
Highlighting the restoration is the re-emergence of the Main Lobby as a grand public space. Designs of the 1940s were stripped away to reveal pristine marble floors and Corinthian columns trimmed in gold.
In addition to its many famous guests, The Fairmont has witnessed some noteworthy events.
This is where the delegates met in 1945 to draft the United Nations Charter. The plaque commemorating this meeting can be seen outside the Garden Room on the lobby level while the country flags of the original signatories fly above the hotel entrance.
Since 1947, many prominent entertainers have appeared in the Venetian Room, but perhaps the most memorable appearance was that of Tony Bennett when, in 1962, he first sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
As cousin Barb, Kate, and I sat in the opulent Lobby, which was the setting for the TV series "Hotel," we thought aloud what it would be like to make this call:
"I'd like to reserve the Penthouse for three nights."
"That's fine. That will be $37,500 for the three nights. Could I get your name?"
"Hello? Sir? . . . Hello?"