Early last century Frank Sandelin owned numerous businesses in Ukiah and a number of properties, including a 307-acre ranch two miles north of Ukiah.
The ranch grew grapes, Bartlett pears, alfalfa, hay and vegetables. Much of what was raised on the ranch was brought to the hotel for use in the kitchen, making the Palace Hotel even more popular as it always had a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables.
In 1909, he installed an electric piano in the billiard and card room. It was reported as being the only one in town and that it was “proving to be quite a fad.” He even started serving iced Wurtenberg artisan water in the hotel which apparently became the new favorite drink over the previous favorites, buttermilk and iced tea.
In 1914, Frank purchased the property itself from Judge Mannon for $30,000, giving him complete ownership of the business and property. Right away he spent $25,000 (about $640,000 today) in building improvements.
He began construction on a three-story brick addition to the back (west side) of the hotel which added 25 rooms (each with their own bath) bringing the hotel’s total room count to 80 rooms. He installed a steam heating system and cold water in every room. He added modern tiled floors, an elevator, and a number of suites.
Sandelin bought most of the new furniture for the Palace from the Union Square Hotel in San Francisco. Gibney, the barkeep at the Palace, was quite happy that the barroom was receiving a remodel, stating that the current accommodations reminded him of when he first became a mixologist in 1849. The new and improved Palace was formally opened in October 1914.
In 1915, Sandelin installed a “modern porcelain drinking fountain” in the lobby (likely the first in Ukiah) which was met with much excitement. The Ukiah Republican Press even described how it worked to its readers, as many had never seen one before.
(Alyssa Ballard is the Archivist at the Held-Poage Museum and Mendocino County Historical Society in Ukiah. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)