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The publisher and general editor of the Fresno Daily Republican newspaper, the staff, and writers dedicated this Official Ahwahnee Web site to the trustees, the managers, the great, near-great, and the Common Man who stand in awe of this architectural wonder of the world, on December 31, 1995. The dedication marked the 140th anniversary of California Magazine publisher, James Mason Hutchings' historic entry into Yosemite Valley on December 31, 1855.
The Ahwahnee is a luxurious hotel, opened in 1927, which has provided every urban comfort in a rugged Sierra mountain niche. Yosemite Miwok woven cooking baskets, linguistic symbols and decorative patterns have been used thoroughout the Ahwahnee's rooms and halls. These have become its trademark.
In the central lobby, six great figures, set in multiple mosaic borders add color and interest to the massive floor area. Walking through the downstairs corridor toward the Great Dining Room Indian motifs can be seen etched in the stone floor.
Rising some 23 feet above the floor in the Great Lounge are elaborate stained glass window works refracting early morning and late afternoon sunlight. They too, are cast from Indian figures. Deeply carved wood panels and Colonial Shaker furniture are gathered around a massive eight-foot fireplace. The enormous mantel serves to connect and integrate the ceiling and the Oriental rug covered floor.
The native American art together with the American Colonial style of the furniture, the fabricts, textures, colors, and flower arrangement are blended together to give the Ahwahnee its character and color.
The distinctive structure has also served as the artistic and cultural backdrop for the Ansel Adams' annual production of Washington Irving's Christmas at Bracebridge Hall. Ironically, The Ahwahnee was built with an eye toward attracting American wealth in support of expanding the National Park idea.
However, as The Ahwahnee threw open its massive doors to herald the opening night of Ansel Adams' Bracebridge in the Ahwahnee Great Dining Room, it was also the eve of the fateful year of 1929 and a Wall-Street financial panic was about to upstage the planned program in Yosemite.
Between June 23, 1943 through December 15, 1945 The Ahwahnee was mobilized by the U.S. Navy for the war effort.It became the foremost rehabilitation hospital for the 7th Fleet. A large Naval staff including officers, occuational psychologists, Chaplains, the Veteran's Administration, and the American Red Cross were housed here during that time period.
The Ahwanhee Rehabilitation Hospital operated a complete program of physical retraining and occupational therapy that extened year round, including a skiing program at Badger Pass.
Some of the GI's returned to Yosemite Valley after the close of WWII to work as National Park Service Rangers.
In the 1960 Yosemite Field School graduating class was a young veteran of the Korean Conflict, a U.S. Marine. He was journalist photographer, Howard Hobbs, as a friend of High Country naturalist, Carl Sharsmith and a long-time acquaintance of Ansel Adams, Hobbs was in good company. Soon Hobbs had donated an extensive collection of several hundred 35mm nature photography slides to the Museum photographic archives in 1968.
He wrote many stories and anecdotes for YNHA Nature Notes, The Yosemite News, and was a contributor to many other newspaper and magazine stories about Yosemite region Nature and human history. Hobbs' preservationist interests have long been followed by avid readers of The Fresno Daily Republican and to Yosemite pilgrims who gathered around Summer evening campfires, and amphitheaters to share personal narratives.
In the Autumn of 1968 Howard Hobbs, with the assistance of his wife Lois, was presenting his major theme, the Yosemite Experience. He was making the circuit that season, the Ahwahnee, Camp Curry, and so on in Yosemite Valley.
One evening, Hobbs' lecture at Camp Curry was packed with several hundred eager listeners. When he finished, an unusually enthusiastic ovation followed. One person in that audience took time to write a letter about naturalist Hobbs impact on visitors that night. It was addressed to Bryant Harry, Chief Naturalist at Park Headquarters.
In part the visitor wrote '...Last night I sat among the multitudes of visitors at the amphitheater listening to a lecture...Hobbs' presentation was philosophical and poetic, pragmatic and profound, humanitarian and of noble humility, his delivery was lyrically dramatic, and he had the effect of mesmerizing his audience, including a weather-beaten wanderer of the National Parks like me...'[signed] Leonard Le Van, MD, New York. [Yosemite NPS' Archives]
The reputation followed Hobbs after that. A few nights later, Hobbs was at the Ahwahnee. Following his talk, Ansel Adams was among those who came to the front, afterwards. Ansel walked over to him and with a broad smile, said '...As long as the Ahwahnee exists, it offers the opportunity like this to express the Yosemite experience in a definite spiritual character.'
Hobbs' seasonal living quarters were in a tent-cabin at Camp 19. By 1968, son Thomas had developed a great interest in nature photography, and The Ahwahnee hotel. Thomas liked to hang-out at the Ahwahnee's Ice-Cream Shop. Both he and his little sister, Laurie were to become accredited journalists and publishers. They, like many thousands, return to Yosemite and to The Ahwahnee in awe and wonder at the works a man and Nature.
But, in the summers of 1968 and the following year, both children were witnesses to the disintegration of an American way of life as they lived through the momentous Stoneman Meadow riots. Over-crowding of more than one-million visitors lead to urban confrontations between anti-Viet Nam War demonstrators, and Park Rangers.
Out-numbered twenty-to-one Rangers on horse-back were being forcibly dragged off the mounts. Ranger vehicles had been commandeered. The Mariposa Sheriff arrived. Inside his squad car, the mob rolled his car over on its top in mid-span of the Stoneman Bridge.
The officer inside hastily crawled out and retreated for cover in the woods. His 38 cal. service revolver fell into the hands of his pursuers who fired it several times into the air in the direction of Glacier Point overlook. Yosemite was under siege. In a way, it still is.
Those ugly confrontations shocked the American psyche and fostered significant NPS policies limiting access to Yosemite, and initiation of urban police training requirements for Rangers and Naturalists.
Park planners then took steps to implement a Yosemite master Plan that would eventually remove many structures from Yosemite Valley and other Park areas including the Naturalist's Camp 19. Officials then turned serious consideration to the removal of noted Park buildings, including the Ahwahnee Hotel.
Partly due to advocacy of the Fresno Daily Republican,through efforts like its creation and dedication of The Ahwahnee Web site, the matter of deconstructing The Ahwahnee has been tabled by the NPS, for the present. However, the Clinton administration announced its intention, on November 24, 1997, to eliminate automobile traffic from that Eastern portion of Yosemite Valley where The Ahwahnee is situated.
The hypertext links pointing to related sites, and those which provide online access to Park services, are provided as a public service. The materials represented in no way substitute for the original holdings and materials in the Archives of The Ahwahnee. The materials provided online are only a supplement to Ahwahnee Hotel collections.
The Fresno Daily Republican Newspaper management staff recommends to Yosemite National Park visitors that before they use information obtained online, they should contact DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. or write to PO Box 578, Yosemite, CA 95389. The Ahwahnee Reservations Office address is located at 6771 North Palm Ave., Fresno CA 93704. and telephone number is (559)252-4848.
For Yosemite Reservations, 5410 East Home Ave. Fresno, CA 93727, or make inquiries for Reservations - Phone: (559) 252-4848 and Fax: (559) 456-0542 for latest information.
In addition, The Fresno Daily Republican Newspaper management staff makes the exhibition space on this site available as a public service to highlight the natural, social, and economic value of these materials through this educational exhibit. Through inclusion in this area, The Fresno Daily Republican Newspaper management staff does not necessarily endorse all exhibits as representative of the concessionaire's practices nor of the human, geological, or natural historical record, nor any of the materials distributed at The Ahwahnee Hotel or other National Park locations in any form.
The Fresno Daily Republican Newspaper management staff assumes complete authority to decide which exhibits are to be used or presented on this web site. Maintenance of this web site is under the complete authority of the assigned software engineers at Web Portal Foundation. All graphics, text materials and electronic media not otherwise designated by other copyright holders, such as the The Ahwahnee Web site, is the exclusive property of The Fresno Daily Republican Newspaper.
This Official Web site page design, information content and Internet access are a work product of the design team at Web Portal Foundation headed up by software engineer Thomas A. Hobbs, M.S. at the Palo Alto facility.
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