Built in 1902 by the Schmitt Family, the Majestic Hotel (as it was then called), had 29 wash basins, 25 bathtubs, 30 water closets, 57 guest rooms and was only four stories high. It replaced the Schmitt family residence across the street at 1501 Gough Street, which had been built circa 1877 for Maurice and Ella Schmitt following their marriage on May 3, 1876. Milton L Schmitt, was the eldest son of Maurice and Ella Schmitt, born on February 4, 1878 and had two daughters. Milton attended the University of California, and graduated from Hastings College of Law in 1899. While continuing to practice law, Milton became interested and involved in politics as early as 1907.
In 1908, he was elected to the California State Legislature; his term began in 1909 and continued through 1915. One of his most significant contributions was securing passage of several bills amending the McEnerney Act which dealt with the restoration of land titles in San Francisco following the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire.
Interestingly enough, it is said that Mr. Milton’s daughter, Lisa, still haunts the Hotel today and it is her portrait that is adorned in the lobby. Ghost tales and articles of “eye-witnessed” sightings are published through the internet.
The Great Earthquake of San Francisco awoke the city at 5:12AM, on April 18, 1906, with a magnitude of 7.9. The earthquake’s epicenter was on San Andreas Fault, just two miles off the shores of San Francisco. The quake was so intense that it was felt from Oregon to Los Angeles. Over 3,000 casualties were reported.
Worse than the earthquake and aftershocks, were the raging fires that burnt throughout the City. According to Wikipedia, “90% of the total destruction was the result of the subsequent fires. Over 30 fires, caused by ruptured gas mains, destroyed approximately 25,000 buildings on 490 city blocks.” The fires continued on until Van Ness Ave. Just a top a short hill, on the corner of Sutter and Gough streets, was the Hotel Majestic, which stood tall and remained open for business. Because it was spared from the devastation, the Hotel has been coined the “longest operating hotel in San Francisco.”
Just this year, around the anniversary of the Great Earthquake, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History released never-before-seen photographs taken by Frederick Eugene Ives from a top the roof of the Hotel Majestic. The pictures show the mass ruins post earthquake and fires of this great City, which now had to be rebuilt. More photos and full articles can be read on SFgate.com and Dailymail.co.uk.
In 1965, owners Adrian E. Scharlach and Jacquelyn, G. Scharlach completed construction of the 5th floor of the Hotel, bringing the total of guest rooms to 75 and establishing fire service for the first time. And in 1985, the Hotel Majestic was bought by a limited partnership and thoroughly restored the hotel to great grandeur and elegance under the watchful eye of the San Francisco Historical Society.