San Francisco, California Marina Motel HistoryBuilt in the late 1930's to celebrate the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marina Motel today is considered by many to be San Francisco's Best Kept Secret. The Marina Motel was built over 75 years ago by Henry Louis (aka "Lou") who was the son of a California Gold Rush Miner. Lou's father came to San Francisco from Hannover, Germany in 1852 to "make it rich" in the California Gold Fields. He made his claim in the town of Madera on the road towards Yosemite and named his gold mine "Hannover". As was common during the Gold Rush days, Lou lived in San Francisco with his Mother and three siblings during the school year while Lou's Dad worked his mine in Madera all year round. Madera was a several day horse and wagon ride away from San Francisco. The average gold miner made about $70/week, which in today's money comes to almost $2,000 a week. ($1 then equals $28 today). The price of supplies and food was very expensive and hard to come by since it was a several day horse and wagon ride from San Francisco. Two eggs cost $8 and a loaf of bread
was $10. Working the a gold mine was hard and dirty work in all weather conditions … 100+ degree summer days and cold, wet winters. It was very common to get sick from working in the damp mines all day and there were few legitimate doctors to be found. Unfortunately, when Lou was nine years old, a messenger showed up at Lou's house in San Francisco with the news that his father had caught Pneumonia and died. Gold had been found in the "Hannover" mine but the gold vain had been lost just before Lou's father unexpectedly died. After the mine was sold, the new owner re-found the gold vein under Lou's mother's vegetable garden. With the sudden and unexpected death of Lou's father, Lou's Mother was alone with four children and could speak little English. Nine year old Lou dropped out of school to help support his family and became a runner for a newspaper called the Call Bulletin. In the days without cell phone or computers, the newspaper reporters would hand their story to Lou who would then run through the city to deliver the story to the newspapers. A year later, Lou became an apprentice to a candy maker showing Lou such useful traits as pulling taffy. As Lou matured, he was able to talk some investors into opening with him a German Café and Bakery at the foot of Market Street along the Embarcadero (the water front). There was no Bay Bridge in the early 1900's so each arriving ferry boat filled his restaurant with customers. The Café sadly burnt down in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. When San Francisco got back on its feet a few years later there were so many new restaurants opening in the same area that they decided not to rebuild
the café'. Onto his next adventure, Lou opened up San Francisco's first Ford dealership selling Model "A" and Model "T". He would tell each customer that you can have any color you want as long as its black. In 1915, San Francisco wanted to show the world that it was back on its feet after the devastating earthquake by hosting The Panama Pacific Exposition. The Exposition was built on top of all the debris from the buildings that were destroyed in the Earthquake and Fire and thrown into San Francisco‘s
wet lands. When the fair closed down, Lou became a developer of the new Marina District in the 1920‘s as it re-built into a new neighborhood. This area is now called the Marina District which is one of San Francisco‘s most desirable areas to live since its near the beach, yacht clubs and waterfront. At the age of 68 Lou took a trip to Canada and stayed in his first "Auto Court". He came home from his trip, pulled himself out of retirement and decided to open San Francisco's first Auto Courtyard. The neighbors had a different idea and thought that such a place would attract gangsters and
other undesirables. After a lengthy battle, Lou began building little apartments but just before he finished, he got the "motor courtyard" zoning approved and built the last half of the rooms without kitchens. The Marina Motel today is still in the family and is owned and operated by Lou's granddaughters ... Heidi and Linda.