The Ahwahnee Hotel
|Location:||Yosemite National Park, California|
|Built:||August 1, 1926–July 1927|
|Architect:||Gilbert Stanley Underwood|
|Architectural style:||National Park Service Rustic|
|Governing body:||National Park Service|
|Added to NRHP:||February 15, 1977|
|Designated NHL:||May 28, 1987|
The Ahwahnee Hotel is a destination hotel in Yosemite National Park, California, on the floor of Yosemite Valley, constructed from stone, concrete, wood and glass, which opened in 1927. It is a premiere example of National Park Service rustic architecture, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
The Ahwahnee hotel was designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood (who also designed the Zion Lodge, Bryce Canyon Lodge, and Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge), with interior design directed by Dr. Phyllis Ackerman and Professor Arthur Upham Pope.
The site for the hotel is below the Royal Arches rock formation in a meadow area that had served in the past as a village for the native Miwoks, who formerly lived in the valley, and a stables complex known as Kenneyville. The site was chosen for its views of many of the iconic sights in Yosemite, including Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point, and its exposure to the sun allowing for natural heating.
The hotel was constructed from 5,000 tons (4,535 t) of rough-cut granite, 1,000 tons (907 t) of steel, and 30,000 feet (9,140 m) of timber. The 'wood siding' and 'structural timber' on the exterior of the hotel is actually formed of stained concrete poured into molds to simulate a wood pattern. Concrete was chosen as the material for the outside 'wood' elements to add fire resistance to the hotel. The construction lasted 11 months and had a cost of US$1,225,000 upon completion in July 1927.
Just before opening, the director noticed that the porte-cochere planned for the west side of the building, where the Indian room now sits, would cause exhaust fumes from automobiles to invade the premises. A hastily designed Douglas Fir pole porte-cochere entry and parking area was erected on the east side of the hotel to correct this. The logs were replaced in the 1990s.
Almost immediately after opening, the next of many alterations were made to the hotel. In 1928, a roof garden and dance hall were converted into a private apartment after the dance hall failed to draw an audience. It was found that the load-bearing trusses in the dining room were barely adequate to support the snow load on the roof and potential earthquake stresses. This led to the trusses being reinforced in 1931-32.
1943 saw the United States Navy take over the hotel for use as a convalescent hospital for war veterans. Some of the changes made to the hotel by the Navy were repainting of the interior, conversion of chauffeur and maid rooms into guest rooms and enclosure of the original porte-cochere.
The 1950s, '60s and '70s brought modernizations to the hotel including fire escapes, a fire alarm system, smoke detectors and a sprinkler system, along with an outdoor swimming pool and automatic elevators.
2003-2004 saw a major roof overhaul, where virtually the entire slate-tile roof, and copper gutter system was replaced. Martech Associates, Inc. of Millheim, Pennsylvania designed the updated roof and served as the general contractor for the project. The project cost approximately USD $4 million and is especially noted for its 97 percent material recycling rate.
An article in the Los Angeles Times on March 13, 2009 stated that seismic retrofits may be needed for the Ahwahnee.
The Ahwahnee's 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) Y-shaped building has 99 hotel rooms, parlors and suites, each being accented with original Native American designs. 24 cottages bring the total number of rooms to 123. A room off the main lobby features skiing and Yosemite memorabilia. The building itself is designed to blend harmoniously with the nearby Yosemite Valley cliffs. Prices per night range from $439 to $1015.
Popular culture 
Parts of the Overlook Hotel interior set of the Stanley Kubrick movie The Shining were modeled after The Ahwahnee's interior. The lobby and great lounge are most prominently represented, although neither is a literal copy. Kubrick changed the Great Lounge in particular, adding a staircase, shifting the position of the enormous fireplace, and adding a mural. The Ahwahnee's lobby elevator doors, with their vivid black-and-red frame, are also very conspicuously featured in the film.
The Ahwahnee has hosted many famous guests, including Steve Jobs, Queen Elizabeth II, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, Gertrude Stein, Ansel Adams, Lucille Ball, Will Rogers, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and the Shah of Iran.
See also 
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15.
- "The Ahwahnee". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-10-21.
- Laura Soullière Harrison (1986). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: The Ahwahnee Hotel. National Park Service and PDF (7.25 MB)
- Harrison, Laura Soullière (February 26, 2001). "The Ahwahnee Hotel". Architecture in the Parks: A National Historic Landmark Theme Study. National Park Service - Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on 16 July 2006. Retrieved 7 July 2006.
- "The Ahwahnee History". Yosemite National Park. Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. 2003. Archived from the original on 15 March 2006. Retrieved 7 July 2006.
- "Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel fails quake safety standards - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. 13 March 2009.
- "The Ahwahnee". Yosemite National Park. Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. 2003. Archived from the original on 3 July 2006. Retrieved 7 July 2006.
- "History of The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park, California". Historic-hotels-lodges.com. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ahwahnee Hotel|
- "The Official site for The Ahwahnee hotel". DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite - the National Park concessioner. 2008. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
- Architecture in the Parks: A National Historic Landmark Theme Study: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by Laura Soullière Harrison, 1986, at National Park Service.
- "Dining Out: Ahwahnee Hotel Kitchen (Yosemite, California)". Cooking For Engineers. January 22, 2005. Archived from the original on 6 August 2006. Retrieved 7 July 2006.
- The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite. Virtual photo tour, history, more. Lots of photos.
- National Historic Landmarks Program Official website
- A History of the NHL Program
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