Stagecoach Inn Historical Landmark
The original Stagecoach Inn, called the Grand Union Hotel, was built in 1876 at the southwest corner of what is now Ventu Park Road and the Ventura Freeway.
Grand Union Hotel 1876
James Hammell, a Santa Barbara businessman, had the hotel built of redwood from Northern California at a cost of about $7200. Constructed in the Monterey style featuring two stories, wraparound porch and balcony, the hotel was publicized in a Ventura newspaper as a pleasure resort. "Shooting, fishing, and bathing, and a first-rate table are among the good things on hand for visitors," said the newspaper write-up that appeared the summer the Inn opened.
Ch, Ch, Changes...
Stagecoaches continued to ply their way through the Conejo Valley into the late 1800s and many hotel guests used that mode of transportation. The Grand Union Hotel was the first commercial use building to be erected in the Conejo Valley.
Following the drought of 1877-78 Hammell no longer owned the hotel. After passing through several owners, it was purchased in 1885 by Cecil Haigh, an Englishman.
The Grand Union Hotel, also called El Hotel Grande,The Conejo Hotel, and the Stagecoach Inn, has had a variety of uses during its existence. It has served as post office, tearoom, boys’ military school, restaurant, and exclusive gift shop. A cowboy movie starringHoot Gibson and Sally Eilers was filmed here in the 1930's. Moviesbeing filmed in and around the Conejo Valley became a regular occurrence.
The Stagecoach Inn's appearance changed over the years. During the tenure of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth McIntyre, who rented the building for their shop, "Tantony," the facade of the building resembled a Southern mansion.
The End...or the beginning?
In the mid-1960s, the Inn was threatened with demolition by the expansion of the Ventura Freeway.
The Conejo Valley Historical Society, which was formed in order to save the building, was successful in having the Stagecoach Inn declared a California Landmark in 1965. H. Allen Hays, grandson of Cecil Haigh, gave the building and about four acres of land at the present location to the CVHS, who later deeded the property to the Conejo Recreation and Park District in return for a 50-year renewable lease to operate the facilities for cultural and educational purposes.
After the hotel was moved in 1966, community volunteers and the historical society prepared it as a museum. A docent council was formed and tours given.
In April of 1970, a fire of undetermined origin completely destroyed the museum and most of its contents. It was rebuilt to appear as it did when it was first constructed.
Although the reconstructed museum was dedicated and opened on July 4, 1976, the second floor was not completed until 1980.
Since the reconstruction of the Inn, many donations were received, again from generous and caring community members to furnish and rebuild the museum to its present day glory.