The Ramona Hotel was once a destination fit for a presidential visit. In fact, President William McKinley spoke from the balcony of the four-story hotel on May 10, 1901, during a whistle-stop tour of the West Coast.
The former San Luis Obispo hotel, which covered the block between Higuera and Marsh streets and fronted Essex Street — now Johnson Avenue — featured its own railroad spur, a saloon, ballroom and several drawing rooms. A grand ball was held when it opened Oct. 3, 1888, with men wearing swallow tailcoats and diamond studs, and women donning silk and lace.
The party wouldn’t last, however. Seventeen years later, the hotel lay in ashes around a lone chimney. On Nov. 10, 1905, a 2 a.m. kitchen fire spread throughout the hotel. The night clerk alerted 250 guests and all escaped.
Several other structures were threatened, but the hotel was so far from town that other buildings were not destroyed.
All that remains of the Ramona today is its train depot and fireplug, now on display at the Dallidet Adobe at 1185 Pacific St.