By Nicholas Grube
Triplicate staff writer
Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller once called Crescent City home - for a couple nights at least.
He was just one patron of many who stayed overnight in some of Crescent City's earliest hotels.
The first hotel, the Cushing House, was built in 1853, the very first year the city was founded. It was on Front Street, which, at the time, was so close to the beach that driftwood and various other debris would wash up to the building's facade. A sea wall was later built to keep the debris from cluttering Front Street.
The Cushing House did not retain its name very long, as it was sold the next year and called the Crescent City Hotel, only to be called the City Hotel by its next owner Gotlieb Meyer.
In 1857, a German native, Francis R. Burtschell, who had worked in hotels in New York, New Orleans (the other Crescent City), Philadelphia and San Francisco, bought the City Hotel and renamed it the Bay Hotel.
But the Bay Hotel was not the only bedding place in the city. At around the same time the Bay Hotel was being erected, an Irishman also decided to build a hotel on Front and J Streets.
Nicholas McNamara, who was born in Dungarvan County Waterford, Ireland, came to Crescent City on March 12, 1853. He noticed that many people were camping outside because there weren't any hotels. To remedy this problem he built the American Hotel in 1853, and it became one of the first in the city. It burned down several years later and was replaced by a more sturdy brick building.
However, it was the Travelers Hotel off of Front Street that hosted Rockefeller and two of his sons. This hotel was located on Second and L Street until it was torn apart in 1942 and sold as lumber.
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