The three-story Hotel Chauvet, an Italianate-style masterpiece on the National Register of Historic Buildings, is located in Glen Ellen, California, in the heart of Sonoma wine country. Built in 1906 by Joshua Chauvet and his son Henry, Hotel Chauvet was the grandest in a town that housed five hotels, eight saloons and hosted as many as 3,000 visitors a month, an enormous amount given that most traveled via railroad.
The Hotel Chauvet featured four-brick-thick walls, using bricks that were kilned in Joshua's own brickyard, a stone's throw from the hotel. A banker and an entrepreneur, Joshua also established the first lumberyard and grist mill, planted grapes, and produced wine and brandy. Today, his former distillery houses a restaurant; his wine and brandy business was the root of the Glen Ellen brand.
The Hotel Chauvet was purchased by its present owners in 1996, when the building was approved for restoration as a condominium. It was the first live/work project in Sonoma County. After facing a quagmire of building and zoning issues and financing requirements that forced a two-year shift of focus, the Hotel Chauvet was once again approved as a condominium project. Not more than two weeks later, rotting timber caused a roof collapse that led to a spectacular debris removal and stabilization project. Restoration and adaptive reuse of the building pushed forward. Financing, building, and insurance issues were resolved, and construction began in 2005.
This project's unique character has consistently been its greatest downfall and its greatest asset. Attempts at saving the magnificent fireplace failed; it was totally unsupported by foundation! The stones are now dispersed throughout the newly planted landscaping and elsewhere in Glen Ellen.
The project won the Award Of Excellence from Sonoma League For Historic Preservation in 2007.
Joshua Chauvet arrived in Glen Ellen in 1856. He purchased 500 acres of land from General Vallejo. The property, located on Sonoma Creek, contained a lumber mill (later known as the Grist Mill) that operated until 1881. The rest of theproperty was planted in grapes, and by 1880, Joshua was producing 25,000 gallons of wine.
He built a three-story stone building for a winery, and also began distilling brandy. The Chauvet family also owned the water system which supplied Glen Ellen's water. The still, the Grist Mill, the water wheel and the winery foundations can be seen at Jack London Village.
From The Olive Press/Olive and Vine Café