The Rich History of Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa

The story of our historic boutique hotel dates back to 1885, when William Barrett, Secretary-Treasurer for the San Francisco Gas and Electric Company and his wife Clara built a lavish “casa” on a hillside overlooking Sausalito. The location provided a wide-angle view of San Francisco Bay Area, teeming with powerful freight ships, elegant yachts and side-wheeler ferryboats.

In 1906, Barrett sold his home to attorney John Patrick Gallagher, who converted it into the original Casa Madrona Hotel. For nearly 40 years, it was a very successful San Francisco bed and breakfast.

In the early 1940s, the Gallaghers sold Casa Madrona. During World War II, the property was used as temporary lodging for military families in transit. After the war, however, it fell into disrepair and became known as a crash pad for the city’s burgeoning beatnik population.

Salvation came in the form of the French Deschamps family who immigrated to California in 1959 and began extensive renovations, introducing the onsite Le Vivoir Restaurant. The eatery instantly garnered critical and commercial praise and drew celebrities such as Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett, Warren Beatty and the rock band Pink Floyd.

In 1967, while Pink Floyd was on their very first visit to the US, they were photographed in the Mansion by Baron Wolman. The famous image was used to promote their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

In 1973, Casa Madrona’s foundation was severely damaged by a series of mudslides, declared unsafe by city officials and scheduled for demolition. Luckily, John Mays took charge of the mansion and grounds in 1976. During the successful restoration process that followed, 16 hillside cottages were added to the property. In 1980 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a treasured landmark.

In November 2003, the historic hotel saw the addition of Poggio, an increase in the number of hotel rooms from 34 to 63, and the addition of a spectacular, 3,000-square-foot spa, a boardroom, a private dining room and three new function rooms.

In 2010, MetWest Terra took over ownership and management, completing a top-to-bottom renovation on the hotel, blending together its rich history with contemporary design and modern luxury. Enhancements were made to the spa, hillside cottages and historic Mansion, restructuring and redesigning its 11 rooms including the new, stand-out 5,000-square-foot Alexandrite Suite, seven upper hillside cottages and the 1,700-square-foot Junto meeting and event space. Today, the Mansion and its offerings exemplify innovation, technology, luxury, service and style, while staying true to the property’s historic roots.

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