Our historic hotel in Northern California began as The McCloud River Mercantile Company store, built in 1897 by the McCloud River Lumber Company. It was a Company Store for the mill workers and their families. As the lumber company grew, the store departments expanded. It originally opened with the store departments downstairs and hotel rooms upstairs for the Northern California traveling public. In 1904, however, they moved the rooms to the new administration building behind the store. They relocated dungarees and work clothes to the upstairs which included the tailor’s office. Downstairs, they expanded the cold storage/ ice box area, moved the meat market to the north side, and rail shed behind the building. In 1926, they again expanded and relocated the meat market to the south and expanded the pharmacy in the southern corner of building, etc. In the late 1920s, the porch roof was lowered to a Mansard style which significantly altered the exterior elevation of the building. To this day, the porch has been a problem because of the snow build up and continuous moisture damage. We hope to raise and restore the porch back to the original height and design. In 1937, they added the fountain bar to the pharmacy and expanded hardware and groceries, etc. The building changed as the store thrived with the townsfolk, millwheelers, traveling tourists, and logging camp.
The Company was known to take care of their employees and was referred to as “Mother McCloud”. They provided charge accounts and made sure their employees didn’t go without. However, mom and the kids also got to charge against dad’s paycheck, and the poor soul could end up with little funds available at the end of the pay period. Employees were also expected to shop there and not elsewhere. They even banned peddlers from selling their goods in town to prevent competition. During the Depression era, the Lumber company kept their prized employees working and supplied all of their health care. After 1967, McCloud River Lumber Company started selling off their assets and property in town to company employees, private buyers, and Pacific Lumber Co. It ceased being a private mill town, and the company store was no more. Even though this change happened over 30 years ago, many in town still reminisce of this unique American era. The families are very close and they contributed to an important time in Siskiyou history.
To this day, McCloud still has many private timber holdings and had a working mill under private companies until 2003. The town is in a process of change awaiting their next industry and a better future. It’s a great place to live and raise your family.
In the 1970s, Ed and Bonnie Simon bought the building and ran the many businesses for the next 30 years while raising their family and living in the upstairs. They owned the Hardware store while the De Bon’s ran the Market. The Simon‘s sons, Dan and Tommy, also ran the General Store and Soda Shop. Ed and Bonnie were successful in running the Mercantile for the next 25 years. As time went on, they were ready for retirement and the maintenance of the building was proving to be difficult and a lot of work. They decided to place it on the market “as is” for someone to buy and restore.
In early Spring of 2000, we (the Mathis family) became the second private owners in over 100 years. Once the papers were signed, there was a moment of excitement with apprehension because we knew it was a life-changing decision. Fortunately, Ed Simon appreciated the history of the building and had preserved the old finishes under the new ones. He supported everything we did including the overall restoration. There was just a lot of work to be done due to the last 100 years of tenant improvements and department expansions. According to the real estate records, the Mercantile was considered California’s first mall with the many departments under one roof.
We thought it would take 3-4 years to complete, however, it took 7. Most of the work was done by family, friends, and employees who stayed with us over the years. Dave Tikkanen worked over 5 years with us on this so called “Money Pit.” He is a CDF firefighter and was always with us in the off season. We also had Steve Richardson, Mindy’s husband, who gave us inspiration and design ideas throughout the years. (Mindy is the Candy Store owner.) We are so happy that the majority of the interior restoration and rehabilitation of the store, restaurant, mall, and hotel are complete.
We still have other projects to complete (meat market tavern, wine vault and tasting room, and the front porch restoration) in the next couple years. These will be done in a slower pace, however. Wayne Repass is now our contractor and you can always find him tackling the latest project. We are also in the process of expanding the Mane Street Salon by adding a spa area that includes a massage room, tanning bed, and pedicure room.
We always felt that the Mercantile belonged to the town and that it should be shared with friends and visitors alike. It was important to carry product that everyone can use. When we first moved to McCloud, you had to drive an hour for a pair of underwear. Now, you can once again purchase underwear and wine in one place!
Please feel free to browse our stores and departments and stay over night with us. We’ll make sure you’re treated like family.