Historic Mother Lode hotel under new ownership

April 16, 2017 9:01pm
Comment Print Email

•  Long-time employees buy Hotel Leger

•  “We’re kind of a hidden jewel up here”

(Photo by Jerrod Hill)

The Hotel Leger, open for guests since it started in a tent in 1851 and still the heart of the former gold rush town of Mokelumne Hill, is under new ownership.

Krissy Haderer and Debbie Rangell have bought the landmark hotel after working in it for years.

“Debbie and I both have a great love for this grand old place and this community,” says Ms. Haderer. “And this really is the community living room.”

They closed on the two-story hotel and got the keys to the front door -- as well as the hotel’s 13 guest rooms and several old jail cells in the basement on February 15. The seller is Doralee Rees, who had owned it since June 2013. Financial terms of the transaction were not made public.

“I had been helping Doralee run the place for the entire time she was here … and Debbie’s been here for 26 years,” Ms. Haderer says.

“We just thought if we can save the place where we know what’s best for it, is just the way we feel,” she says.

Mokulemne Hill’s main street now is one of little traffic – a car or pickup truck every now and again and the occasional horseback rider. It’s a far cry from when 49er George Leger decided to open a hotel in the boomtown instead of trying to find gold in the ground or the Mokulemne River. The town had several initial claims to fame: It was one of the richest gold sites in the heart of Gold Rush country – and it was one of the most lawless, once having a murder a week for 17 weeks.

The tent hotel had a grand name: Hotel de France, since Mr. Leger had emigrated from that country. It was adjacent to what was then the Calaveras County Courthouse. Over the years, the county seat moved and Mr. Leger acquired the building with its jail cells and integrated it into his hotel, which by then was built of stone. It was renamed the Hotel Leger (luh-jay) in 1874.

As nearby gold veins played out, the town’s population dropped from about 15,000 to today’s 500 or so.

Still popular in the 21st Century is the hotel’s saloon, which has a stained glass back bar that supposedly came around Cape Horn. It’s been pouring drinks and listening to drinkers since 1851.

The hotel has had a history of different owners. Ms. Rangell had worked for six in a row before becoming co-owner, Ms. Haderer says. That’s an asset. “She knows what has worked and what hasn’t in the past,” Ms. Haderer adds.

Ms. Haderer is a native of the Bay Area but she has considered the quiet town her home for years. She notes that the Bay Area has changed greatly since she was a child there. “The hustle and bustle, the pace, the impersonality of it,” she notes. “Every time I have to go down there I have less and less patience with the traffic and the rudeness.”

It’s different in Mokulemne Hill, she says. “Everybody knows everybody. You smile and wave and say ‘hi.’ And it’s safe to walk around at night and leave your car unlocked,” she says. “It’s just kind of a throw-back to the ’50s when you knew your neighbors and they were also your friends.”

There is another big difference in her eyes. She says Mokulemne Hill is a village that looks after its own, pointing to the devastating Butte Fire of 2015, which killed two people and injured another while destroying 921 structures including 549 homes and four businesses.

“It burned right up to the edge of the township proper,” she says.

“We opened our doors to the firefighters, to the FEMA workers, and PG&E people trying to get the power back on for everybody,” Ms. Haderer says. “We were housing displaced residents and I ran a donation center out of our banquet room for six weeks. We had an outpouring of donations. We were a no-questions-asked relief center where people who needed stuff came in. They didn’t have to sign papers and do all that stuff; they could just take what they needed.”

Ms Haderer has a background that at first might seem unlikely for a hotel owner. She was an action sports photographer.

“One of my sons is a professional mountain bike racer and I spent nine years as a photographer on the race circuit,” she says. Traveling to competitions took them to four continents during that time – plenty of opportunity to see how hotels are run.

One thing that the old hotel likely will have with its new owners is the best keeping of the financials. Both Ms. Haderer and Ms. Rangell have degrees in accounting.

For a hotel with 166 years of history behind it, the new owners have plans for an even better future.

“We’re kind of a hidden jewel up here. People drive past on Highway 49 and we’re a block off the highway and they don’t really know that we’re here,” Ms. Haderer says. “We’d like to see it on the map.”

To help put it on the map, the new owners are offering what they hope will be dining experiences people will talk about long after they’ve returned home. “We have an amazing chef [who is] getting a lot of attention” she says.

The hotel also hopes to appeal to those who want a taste of the old west (minus the gunslingers.) “We have beautifully appointed rooms that have period-appropriate antiques,” she says. “We do not have TVs in the rooms, or phones.”

Part of the old basement jail has been remodeled into a banquet space. “It was more of the holding cells for people who were awaiting trial – and/or hanging,” Ms. Haderer says.

There’s another thing from the 1850s that Hotel Leger has that the industry as a whole has moved away from in terms of guest room amenities. “If you want to go out on the balcony, you have to climb out the window. As a landmark, we cannot change the façade of the building,” she says. “So you get to pretend you’re a teenager again.”

The hotel does have wi-fi, however. “We’re not back in the Stone Age,” she says.

Another point in the hotel’s favor is what made Mokulemne Hill a settlement in the first place. It’s in the heart of the California Gold Rush country. And it’s close to the region’s rapidly growing wine industry with two dozen tasting rooms in the town of Murphys, about 30 minutes from the hotel.

For hotelier Krissy Haderer, the Hotel Leger is more than a business. “I came up here five years ago and haven’t left, really. It was a feeling in my heart that I belonged."


» For more information:  http://www.hotelleger.com/
» For more information :  (209) 286-1401

Comment Print Email

  • How to compete against Wal-Mart
  • Stockton mom turns a need into a business
  • The entrepreneur is in
  • Writing her own success story
  • Growing a small business the family way
  • The future pencils positive for this company
  • Niche marketing -- Italian style
  • Sipping success with niche marketing
  • Roasting a business out of his passion
  • Success as an independent consultant takes more than expertise
  • Avoiding the traps of employee law violations
  • Cracking the voice-over market
  • The American Dream realized, one package at a time
  • Female winemaker plunges into business
  • A new take on nurse education
  • Family sees moving business success
  • STEM thrives in pockets of education innovation
  • STEM goes solar in Stockton
  • Quick! There’s a robot in my pool
  • Retiring seniors can mean new business
  • Predawn biotech class trains next generation of science workers
  • Staying ahead of the competition the old fashioned way
  • Central Valley sees mismatch between high-tech jobs and job seekers
  • STEM starts young
  • Get ready – the future is here now
  • STEM Education: Growing the Valley's Future
  • They’re low power in wattage only, not ideas
  • Thinking success spawns Successful Thinkers
  • Small business success can mean finding the right niche
  • This franchise has real muscle behind it
  • Getting the scoop on small business success
  • Reshoring could rebuild America's manufacturing
  • Marketing that’s deliberately anchored to the past
  • Guitar artist plays his way to success
  • Paralysis no handicap for this entrepreneur
  • Boost sales with better communication
  • Making sandwiches sexy with a franchise
  • Going solar without spending a lot of money
  • They’re cute and cuddly. But are they a business?
  • Opportunity sails forth in the Delta
  • How bad etiquette on the job could kill your career
  • Growing their way out of hunger and poverty
  • Finding small business success from floor to ceiling
  • Why he’s public enemy #1 – for gophers
  • Running a home-based business successfully
  • Your boss needs a vacation – really
  • Couple makes transition from big corporations to small business
  • Carving a small business niche with a better idea
  • Calm is the goal of computer service and education franchisor
  • Developer squeezing new life into downtown with juice franchise
  • Signs of a recovering economy
  • How to keep a family business in the family
  • Ford dealership expands despite the Great Recession
  • Utility Telephone connects with customer service
  • Crowdfunding basics
  • The roar from crowdfunding is getting louder
  • California water wars’ bulldog
  • Water wars heat up in California
  • Helping businesses grow with a stronger STEM
  • How to retain your best employees
  • Small business runs success up the pole
  • Winery expands in Lodi
  • Lodi wineries tapping into growing Chinese market
  • Has the jobs picture brightened for the Valley for 2012?
  • The right education will be needed for 21st Century jobs
  • Where new jobs for San Joaquin will come from
  • Developing jobs for San Joaquin – Part 2
  • Developing jobs for San Joaquin
  • Fruits of his labor
  • Helping grow food security in the Valley of plenty
  • Doing a business turnaround despite the recession
  • Keeping customers loyal helps build her business
  • Expo exposes businesses to utility contracting ideas
  • Drink mix maker taps expertise to blend success
  • Entrepreneur finds success in a basket
  • Tips for catching resume fraud
  • There’s no checking out for this small business owner
  • Entrepreneurs take Valley sports play-by-play to the world
  • Starting a winery from scratch
  • Job hunting tips for the long-term unemployed
  • In the Central Valley, opera isn’t always the Grand Ole Opry
  • Branding ideas for small businesses
  • The ump’s not blind, but the players are
  • Finding success by tapping your brain in a new way - Part Two
  • Finding success by tapping your brain in a new way
  • Machines talking to machines is the future
  • Getting involved in the fight against AIDS
  • Franchised divorce says it’s a better way
  • Small business owner is brewing a success story
  • To beat the Great Recession, they’ve expanded
  • Taking a swing at strokes
  • Alert your taste buds – here comes Taste of San Joaquin
  • This franchise has real muscle behind it
  • Passion for his city drives him
  • Vicente Fox speaks out on U.S.-Mexico relations
  • Give your support staff recognition and reap top performance
  • Central Valley baker gets top honors for Royal Wedding pie
  • Asparagus Festival ends on high note
  • Stockton close to annual ‘tipping’ point
  • Framing small business success
  • Small business sees Affordable Care Act helping its bottom line
  • What you eat – and when – helps local restaurants
  • Coping with the aftermath of foreclosure
  • How to raise charming children
  • Central Valley grad school goes all-iPads
  • Solution to Delta water wars voiced
  • Making sure your personal bottom line is covered
  • Small California winemaker is all family
  • Small winery relies on family and innovation to compete
  • Central Valley company says it has a better way to store solar power
  • What’s wrong -- and right -- about local TV news
  • What planning means to small business success
  • Making the leap to small business
  • Out of work at middle age? Experts offer advice
  • Small business marketing, one article at a time
  • Congress on your corner as it’s supposed to be
  • Central Valley city’s heritage rediscovered
  • Central Valley school is building students’ foundations
  • Job tips from the expert
  • Long-term jobless worker re-invents himself
  • Building a new power plant means jobs for Central Valley
  • Sacramento reaches for the stars with new science center
  • Lodi Chamber opens China’s doors to small business
  • Writing books for fun – and sometimes profit
  • Black Friday shopping? How to protect yourself from scams
  • California winemakers can find added rewards overseas
  • Wine makers tap overseas markets from Lodi
  • A new revenue stream for Central Valley small businesses
  • Food bank seeks more business support
  • Tips for finding a job in the Great Recession
  • State may solve some of its prison woes with new Stockton facility
  • A solution to underwater mortgages
  • Should public libraries be managed by private firms?
  • Central Valley moves ahead with critical water project
  • Dee Dee Myers and the increasing impact of women on small business
  • How women are growing their small businesses
  • A market with a mission
  • Retailer 'paints' solutions to cash flow challenge
  • An answer for the unemployed – return to school
  • A ‘golden’ small business success story
  • Central Valley winegrapes blessed
  • Rubbing out the recession with a franchise
  • Surviving the recession as a small business
  • It’s personal, union says of Stockton fire cuts
  • How old it too old to start a new business?
  • They've found the recipe for small business success
  • MBA students help revive Central Valley farmers market
  • Classic wooden yachts anchor in Stockton for weekend
  • Foreclosures, short sales – a bank president comments
  • The strength of family helps this small business compete
  • Festival spears success in Central Valley
  • Social media helps keep family business prospering
  • Central Valley students get training in ‘green’ futures
  • Knives readied as Valley cities slash services
  • Central Valley jobless picture still grim
  • Delta residents told to ready for water war
  • Opportunities outlined for Central Valley small businesses
  • Rewiring your brain for success
  • Central Valley no longer ‘shell shocked’ by recession
  • To fix California’s government, look to London
  • Taking your sales pitch to the next level