Outlined drawing of the Eureka Inn building

The history of the Eureka Inn

Eureka Inn. Eureka, California, May 18th, 2010

Help celebrate our grand re-opening! The classic and classy Eureka Inn has at last re-opened its redwood doors, and we welcome you to stay with us at the premiere hotel on Humboldt Bay.

Come and visit our historic and charming accommodations, and experience the warmth and beauty of Old World northern California lodging at its most elegant.

the Eureka Inn sign

After a six-year hiatus, the Eureka Inn is ready once again to welcome guests and to open a new chapter in its 87 year history — we extend an invitation for you to join us!The staffs of the Eureka Inn have been hard at work readying this legendary establishment for your stay. The hotel’s infrastructure has been thoroughly renovated, with new carpeting and furniture to adorn the stately grand entry way and great lounge, with its high ceilings filled with rich redwood beams, and the lovely guest rooms and suites, modernized with new telephones, LCD televisions, and Direct TV.

Add your name to the guest list that includes presidents and royalty, actors and writers, sports stars and musicians. Since 1922, with the completion of the Redwood Highway, the Eureka Inn has been the premiere lodge on the Humboldt Bay, and the epicenter of social events and gatherings. So much so, that the Inn was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1982. Just down the road from artistic Arcata, Humboldt State University and the College of the Redwoods, the Eureka Inn adjoins eclectic Old Town Eureka & Eureka’s fantastic collection of Victorian homes. And, of course, the Inn is at the heart of some of the most beautiful country on Earth: Humboldt County’s ancient Redwood forests and spectacular coastline simply beckon to be explored.

Fifty charming guest rooms and suites are ready and waiting, at modest rates, with additional embellishments and improvements underway. Experience and enjoy the Eureka Inn as its splendor is reborn.

We look forward to welcoming you!

A History of Hospitality

In 1922 the small seaport of Eureka on California’s rugged North Coast was rapidly becoming a major center for industrial and agricultural commerce in Humboldt County and beyond. Redwood forests and prime farmland were abundant, cargo ships from around the world lined the wharves of Humboldt Bay and two daily passenger trains linked Eureka with San Francisco. With the completion of the Redwood Highway in the early 1920’s, a new influx of visitors made their way into the county to enjoy the finest hunting, fishing and scenery in the state. This influx included businessmen, industrialists and pleasure travelers who sought refined lodging. Simultaneously, the growing sophistication of social functions in Eureka underscored the need for an elegant hotel. Through a massive community-wide effort, The Eureka Inn was built to fill that need and serve not only as a gracious host to visitors, but as a resplendent social center as well.

The Inn’s Beginning

Old picture of the Eureka Inn lobby
Initial funding for The Inn came about through the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, which formed the Eureka Hotel Company, sold stock to some 600 investors and acquired the lot upon which The Inn now stands for $24,000. The 100-room hotel, constructed in a distinctive style blending English Tudor and contemporary design, made generous use of the plentiful local redwood. Its interior reflected an Old World charm with a vast, high-ceilinged lobby, polished redwood beams, crystal chandeliers, and a massive brick fireplace trimmed in oak and redwood and crowned with a brass mantle and The Discovery of Humboldt Bay, a large-scale painting specially commissioned by the hotel. The Inn’s dedication on Thursday, September 22, 1922, was an event of great social significance. The Eureka Hotel Company invited “all citizens whether they be stockholders or not”, and more than 2,000 people took them up on the offer. An official opening, a dinner dance, and community ball marked an occasion remembered as “the greatest public social function in the history of Humboldt County”. By opening day, The Inn’s staff had been so thoroughly drilled and trained that every guest’s want was not only met but anticipated. And thus began the tradition of service and hospitality for which The Eureka Inn was to become renowned.

A National Historic Place

Such was The Inn’s popularity that more than 50 rooms were added in 1925 and by the end of the year the hotel had expanded to cover the entire city block. Over the next two decades many other improvements were made, including the expansion of the dining facilities and, with the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1933, the opening of the Green Room (“A Cocktail Lounge For Ladies and Gentlemen”). Advertisements of the day boasted “The Eureka Inn – A Whole Block of Hospitality!” However, hard times fell on the Inn during the 1950’s, and by the end of the decade it was in sore need of repair and upgrading. Fortunately, a savior was waiting. In 1960 The Inn’s majority interest block of shares was purchased by the late Helen Barnum who immediately set about a major restoration project.

In 1995, John & Debbie Biord, both locals to Eureka, purchased the Barnum’s majority share interest, and then subsequently purchased the rest of the outstanding shares, marking the first time in the Inn’s history that the Inn has had a single owner. Since then, the Biord’s have initiated guest room renovations, replacement of the hot water system, installed a new co-generation system, new courtyard patio surrounding the pool, and numerous other upgrades to the historic property. This work continues today…

The unique beauty of The Eureka Inn has been praised and cherished by travelers since its founding. It therefore seemed only fitting when The Inn received the formal recognition of the U.S. Government, which in 1982 added the famous hotel to the National Registry of Historic Places.

Famous Visitors

Over the years, The Inn has served as host to numerous dignitaries and celebrities. Former guests include the following:

  • Presidents: Herbert Hoover, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Bobby Kennedy
  • Lady Bird Johnson
  • Actors: John Barrymore, Shirley Temple, Laurel & Hardy, Bill Cosby, Carrie Fisher, Jeff Goldblum
  • Producer: Steven Spielberg
  • Industrialists J.D. Rockefeller Jr. and Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr.
  • Writers: Zane Grey and Herman Wouk
  • Sports Figures: Mickey Mantle, Steve Young, Joe Theisman, Ronnie Lott, Joe Frazier, Joe Montana
  • Musicians: Ringo Starr, Jack Bruce, Robert Plant, Kwaku Daddy, Joan Baez, Merl Haggard
Shirley Temple newspaper clipping
Robert F Kennedy giving his 1968 presidential campaign speech in the Eureka Inn. Close up
Robert Kennedy giving his presidential campaign speech surrounded by people & press
"Winston Churchill ...stayed at the Inn" newspaper clipping