By Peg Bos, Clovis Museum
The arrival of the San Joaquin Valley railroad in 1891 and the Fresno Flume and Irrigation in 1893 created jobs that would accelerate the growth of Clovis. By 1895 there were 30 homes and four business blocks that we now call “Old Town Clovis.”
A daily stage would arrive in Clovis depositing visitors and workers to our city. Skilled stage drivers would arrive in “style” which meant a fast prancing pace and clouds of dust during the summer months and slinging mud during the winter. There was a need for hotels and boarding houses.
The Clovis Hotel (three story wooden structure) was located on Front Street (first called Fulton Street and now Clovis Ave) on the northwest corner of Fourth. It was built in 1896 and boasted a verandah on the second floor, which faced east.
Water troughs for the horses, a wooden sidewalk, and large trees located on the south exposure on Fourth Street provided amenities for the weary traveler.
This hotel dwarfed the commercial buildings to the south. In 1906, the Clovis Tribune advertisement for the Clovis Hotel read: “Good beds, 25 cents per day and best meals 25 cents.”
Some rooms were small with 7-foot high partitions that did not extend to the ceiling. It was reported that any guest who snored would be interrupted by shoes and boots being thrown over the top of the partitions from adjacent rooms.
An April 1, 1896 article in The Fresno Morning Republican stated: “Dr. Brewer is stopping at the Clovis Hotel where he is doing a good deal of dental work. Cap May has grasped this opportunity to have his jaw repaired that was injured by falling at a fire in Fresno last summer. The Doctor says it will take about $100 worth of gold to replace his fractured teeth.”
The article continues: “There is a good deal of sickness in Clovis. Dr. Herring is kept busy. Between calls he can be seen on Front Street picking himself up from the ground after being thrown from his unruly “bike.” Doc is a stayer, and is bound to learn even if his legs are “little short.”
A real estate office was north of the hotel. North of that office was the McCord’s Hall. It was owned and operated by James McCord. The two-story building housed fraternal organizations and dances. There was a small stage for local artists.
On Feb. 28, 1902 the Clovis Choral Club Concert presented a program (admission 25 cents) at McCord’s Hall that included “Old Kentucky Home” by Foster Parks and “Der ersten Liebe gold’ne Zeit” by Englemann.
On May 15 1903, a recital was held and “Out Where the Billows Roll High” by Petrie and “Margherita” by Gonod were among the songs performed.
In 1906 the Clovis Tribune, McCord Hall advertised admission to their programs (25 cents and 15 cents). Some acts of the entertainment: Seven young ladies would pantomime with music “Nearer My God to Thee.” A pantomime, Cantata, and Tableau of “The Ten Virgins” portrayed by 10 young ladies and a comedy without voice in three acts: “Blessed, Not quite so blessed, and Doubly blessed.” It was not until 1916 that the first Clovis public kiss occurred at a Clovis High School play.
In the above 1913 picture of the Clovis Hotel, the real estate office and the roof of McCord’s hall is visible. The wrap around porch provided a social gathering. L to R: Kate Knapp, A. O. Smith, hotel porter, Laura Boice, N/A, Mr. Jordan, N/A, Mrs. Frank and Miss Frank.
The Clovis Hotel, real estate office and McCord’s Hall were destroyed by fire in 1913. They are a part of our rich heritage.