Monday, August 06, 2007

Glen Alpine Resort

My son and I hiked to Glen Alpine Springs this afternoon. The springs is the site of a preserved hotel and tent cabin resort that dates back to 1884 (and possible earlier). The hotel closed in 1966 after being passed through several owners.

Nathan Gilmore first explored Fallen Leaf Lake in 1863. He soon discovered Soda Spring and established a cow camp there. Gilmore operated the resort until his death in 1898.

Gilmore's resort drew its clientele from San Fransisco and Virginia City. "Guests of the resort traveled by steamboat (on Lake Tahoe) to the Tallac Resort and then by stagecoach or automobile, and were served elegant meals on china in the dining area," says Forest Service literature.

After a disastrous fire destroyed the dining room and kitchen in the early 1920s, then owner E.G. Galt enlisted the help of frequent guest and architect Bernard Maybeck to design a new resort. Among Maybeck's designs is the Assembly Hall that's next to Soda Spring. Today, the hall houses a historic interpretive center.

The four Maybeck buildings have been preserved and are included in a private historic preserve. The Dining Room (larger hall to the left) and Kitchen are still used for special events.

The Glenn Alpine Springs website includes this description of Maybeck's designs:

The famous Bernard Maybeck style: the "arch" -- the rounded roof eves resembling thatched roofs, industrial metal roofs, window sashes and doors, lots of windows, native granite rock buttresses both inside and outside the buildings at Glen Alpine Springs. They stand today as a tribute to the renowned architect's attention to build fireproof buildings as requested, but also show his purpose to blend the intimate relationship of topography and materials in site planning.
The kitchen features a large wood-burning range. Gourmet meals are still prepared in the kitchen, which dates from 1922. (I wasn't able to get a picture without the reflection unfortunately. Note the bottle of 409 that is visible through the reflected benches.)

The resort site is operated by Historical Preservation of Glen Alpine Springs, Inc., P.O. Box 694, Glen Ellen, California, 95442.

The site is only accessible by a one-mile hike from the parking area at the Glen Alpine Trailhead next to Lilly Lake. The trail follows the service road and includes two moderate climbs. The refreshing view of Modjeska Falls, named after a Virgina City actress who performed at the resort in 1885, is found at the mid-point of the hike.

Forest Service directions: "Take Highway 89 north approximately 3 miles from South Lake Tahoe to Fallen Leaf Lake Road. Watch for bicyclists and other cars on this narrow, one-lane road. Continue until you see the Glen Alpine trailhead sign and turn left. Trailhead parking is across from Lily Lake."

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