Garden Street Inn
Garden Street Inn dining room
Garden Street Inn sitting room

Our History

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 the changing of its 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 notable 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 community involvement.

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. 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 Smith's concepts.

In 2018, Garden Street Inn was acquired by Kirkwood Collection, who continues to carry on the tradition of comfort and first class hospitality at The Garden Street Inn. Click here to book your stay!