NORTH CREEK - The Copperfield Inn, located across from the North Creek Railroad Station, is scheduled to reopen Feb. 2. It was built in 1990 by Eliot Monter on the original site of the American Hotel which was the first hotel in North Creek. The following are memories of that hotel by Dr. Daniel F. O'Keeffe II.
Memories of the American Hotel
To the best of my knowledge the American Hotel ownership went like this:
1- 1871 John McInerney built it. Burned down, possibly, 1903.
2- Rebuilt 1920 by Jake Waldron. Owned by Henry and Anna Riggs.
(Editors note: The hotel was briefly known as Riggs Hotel and later, The New American Hotel)
3- Riggs sold to George and Katherine Gregory 6/23/27
4- Sold to James McPhillips about 1947
5- Who then sold to Zack.
My memories of the American Hotel are very fond as I dated the owner's daughter, Kathryn Gregory and later married her.
When the Gregorys bought the hotel Mrs. Gregory said she threw out every mattress in the place.
This was perhaps the worst business to be in during the depression. A ton of coal cost $5. Often they had a hard time finding the $5.
Mr. Gregory was a Registered Guide and he took hunting and fishing parties into the woods to pay for fuel and food.
You could get a whole Thanksgiving dinner with coffee, tea or milk - complete with ice cream on pie .50c during the depression- late 20s, early 30s. Night lodging was $1.
Everyone worked. George did all the heavy work. Mrs. Gregory, the cooking and my wife Kathryn made beds, house cleaned and waited on tables.
George bought the old Ducenois farm just north of the creek and had 5 gardens where he got all his vegetables for the hotel.
George was president of the Northern Hare and Beagle Club - the oldest Hare and Beagle Club in America, which was another source of income during the dog days. They would spend a week at the Hotel.
During the depression in the summer the state highway men would stay at the hotel. Later, the iron workers, who built the buildings for the titanium plant at Tahawus, stayed there.
Mrs. Gregory had working for her in later years a lady by the name of Corrie. She had been a snake charmer in the carnival. She was the most outgoing, friendly lady you wanted to know, also a hard worker and could play the piano.
Mr. Gregory had the only garnet bar in the world. He also had in his bar a blinking owl. When he thought someone had reached their peak he'd hit a button and the owl would blink. The customer would say, "Is that damn owl blinking?" George would say "you've had enough!"
They began to prosper when the ski trains started in the middle 30s.
P.S. - The conductors on the train stayed at the hotel during prohibition. They knew everyone going to and from the Crick to Saratoga. On an occasion a stranger would get on the train and when the conductor took his ticket, he got off the train and telegraphed to North Creek: a stranger on the train. When the stranger arrived, everyone so to speak was in church and no longer to be found. Usually the man was a Fed. What great days!
That is about all I can think of (about the American Hotel). I had many pleasant memories of the hotel and the Gregory family - had my wedding dinner there in 1945. What wonderful days! Where has the time gone??
W. R. Waddell wrote in his weekly news articles, "As It Used To Be" Nov. 15, 1972 ...
"George Gregory took a great interest in hunting and personally guided a great many of the hunting parties that came to his hotel... Most people watched the porch of the hotel from the time hunting season opened till it closed to see how the hunters were doing. The deer were nearly always hung from the second floor porch railing and the hunters had their pictures taken there."
Historically, the presence of a hotel in the location of the Copperfield Inn is significant in the on- going activities of the North Creek community. Many of the ol' timers in town today can spin some interesting yarns about those days when they "hung out" at the American Hotel.