This 1887 Victorian home, known as the Garden Street Inn,
rests on land that was once part of the Mission Vineyard. It is a
"house for all reasons....." embodying the spirit of persons who seek
fulfillment of diverse dreams.
The Italianate/Queen Anne design was
originally the single-family home of German/Jewish immigrants, Morris
and Helena Goldtree. Pictured above the piano in the Goldtree library is
the house in 1888 - prior to its changing layout and owners.
Morris was of an affluent background. His
pioneer family, including brothers Nathan, Isaac, and Marcus, arrived
in San Luis Obispo in 1858 and proceeded to establish the Goldtree
Block; a two-story merchandising business located on the northeast comer
of Chorro and Higuera Streets.
The entire Goldtree family was successful
in ventures including land transactions, railway enterprises' and wine
making. At the turn of the century, they returned to native Germany only
to then hastily depart during Hitler's Holocaust. Upon their arrival on
the West Coast, descendants settled in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Marin
County. (Goldtree grandsons, Bill, Straus, and Alfred Benjamin, have all
been guests at the
Garden Street Inn).
Patrick and Elizabeth McCaffrey, who
acquired the home in June 1898, authored chapter two in the life of 1212
Garden Street. They added a second level in 1908 and then divided the
dwelling into four flats. The noted McCaffrey family also founded one of
the first breweries of San Luis Obispo.
Minnie Ernst owned the property from 1912
until 1923; it was then that Dollie McKeen purchased it. Dollie then
proceeded to divide the expansive structure into an eight-roomed
apartment. She was the resident landlady until her death in 1965. Dollie
was the daughter of Judge Andrew Buckner of Boliver, MO, who was
responsible for sentencing Jesse James in the Ozarks. Her Uncle was said
to be Ulysses S. Grant.
Dollie was educated through the sixth
grade, married twice, and had four sons. She loved to sew and rented out
her apartments primarily to women, being teachers and sales staff of
Riley's Department Store, while holding firmly to views of temperance
for her tenants. A visit to the Dollie McKeen Suite offers pictorial
family scenes as well as the "House Rules" as she enforced them: "This
is an apartment house, not a nudist colony."
The McKeen family name resides
prominently in the history of San Luis Obispo. During the depression
they established the McKeen Hatchery. They continue to leave their mark
on the business environment through real estate services and spirited
The building remained configured as a
small apartment complex through several absentee owners until acquired
by Dan Smith and Kathy Judge in May of 1989.
Discovery of this perfect place allowed
for the birth of a bed and breakfast. In May of 1989, Dan and Kathy
relished their mission – go where we want to live and our dream will
appear. And so they did, and it did. 1212 Garden Street was purchased
without Dan and Kathy ever having seen the entire structure. It was
their vision of what the Inn could be that persevered.
Jim Hoffman of Hoffman Associates, an
architecture graduate of Cal Poly, created all the interior and exterior
design changes that were implemented by Darren Shelter of Shelter
Construction Co., also a Cal Poly graduate. Dan and Kathy named all of
the rooms in advance of decor selections. They met with Amanda Lambert
and Nancy Shannon of Interiors by Amanda to interpret the spirit of the
As of August 2004 this lovely Inn has
been owned by a local couple. They continue to carry on the tradition of
comfort and warm hospitality at The Garden Street Inn.