Karen Newell Young Nevada City Advocate
Jordan Fife has large footprints in Nevada County. His father was from here. His grandfather was a barber in Grass Valley. His wife grew up across the street from his grandparents. So, it only makes sense that Fife, who was aiming to purchase a hotel in a small Americana town rife with history, would zero in on one of the area's most iconoclastic Gold Rush landmarks.
Fife has memories of visiting the Big A drive-in, the Del Oro Theater and growing up with his best friend, who is now his wife. His father in law became terminally ill when the couple was searching for a hotel to buy. They came to Nevada County to help him out.
"We like to think he had something to do with the serendipity of buying the National," Fife said. "We fell in love with the notion of what we could do with place. You could have had a corporate group take out the soul of the site," he added. "It will be more like an ode to the Rector Brothers," he said referring to Baylis and John, who acquired the property in the 1880s and expanded the facilities during their 44 years as owners. "It's an amalgam of what it has become."
Fife said he plans to use the property's charm and authenticity, but with a hip, trendy vibe "inspired by what this building is," he said.
Listed in the National Register of Historic places, The National Hotel is a 40-room property with a pool and restaurant. It was built in August 1856 and is said to be the oldest, continuously operated hotel west of the Rockies.
The National Hotel is now the flagship property in what the National Exchange Hotels plan as a small number of lodgings in distinctive, quirky places. "We are about historically accurate and architecturally significant properties," Fife said. "This is our business model. We are hip. But we are a family friendly company and we understand how important it is to have local business. Without the community, the business wouldn't survive."
Among the plans for remodeling include moving the dining room to the veranda level, the pool are will be upgraded and the rooms given a facelift and bathrooms. Fife said his is a family business. "We understand how important it is to have local business," he added. "Without the community none of it will work, we wouldn't survive." In addition to a new dining room and pool area, Fife said the bar will be getting a refresh. "Part of the charm of the bar is it's a little seedy," he said. The saloon style will remain and an area will be part of karaoke and local music.
"The building is part of a living organism," Fife said. "That's the history that we want to preserve with the building."
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Jordan Fife said it was family connection to the area that led him to purchase The National Hotel. “We are about historically accurate and architecturally significant properties. This is our business model,” he said.