Think back to being in Point Reyes Station, West Marin’s largest town. Remember the huge brick building at the south end of town? It’s been vacant for decades and now has messages plastered all over it? That’s the Grandi Building.
It was built back in 1915 featuring Mission Revival architecture with hotel rooms and a dance hall on the top floor and shops and offices downstairs. According to local lore, the Grandi Company sold everything from cattle feed to grand pianos downstairs while railroad passengers and workers stayed upstairs. Business boomed for maybe 15 years; for a time the town’s telephone switchboard was located in the building’s lobby as was its post office. And in 1940, an Army lieutenant colonel named Dwight Eisenhower was a hotel guest (12 years before he became America’s 34th president).
But by the early 1930s, trains had stopped running and, as a result, the upstairs hotel was losing money; and in 1953 it was closed. The shops and offices lasted until 1978 before they called it quits. Now the Grandi Building’s present owner, winemaker Ken Wilson of Healdsburg, wants to bring it back to life in a configuration that’s similar to the original layout: 20 to 24 hotel rooms upstairs and retail on the ground floor. “Oh gosh, he’s been at that for over a dozen years and it doesn’t seem to be making much headway,” says Melanie Stone, owner of Zuma, a popular artful craft store that’s been a neighbor of the Grandi Building for over 27 years. “Yet it would sure be good for the town if he could pull it off, it would bring business to that end of town and give people a place to stay when visiting — even better would be affordable housing upstairs.”