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Howard Hot Springs' History: Part 7

Monday, 14 February 2011 13:52
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Part 7: The Pappas Brothers

By the 1920s the horse-drawn stages of earlier decades had been replaced by automobiles, and Lake County’s resorts began catering to “tourists.”  Regular bus service was arranged, but families often arrived at Howard Springs in their own cars.  Accordingly, the resort made parking spaces to accommodate these newly mobile guests, and a gas station with a round sign on its roof ridge was built to the east about where Big Canyon Road is now (at that time the Big Canyon Road bent west, closer to the lodge).

In 1936 J.P. and Cora Francisco mortgaged Howard Springs for $15,500.  A January, 1937, newspaper clipping reproduced mentions J.P. Francisco, the “proprietor of Howard Hot Springs,” being rushed to the hospital for appendicitis.  He continued to advertise the resort locally.  On October 6, 1945, the Franciscos paid off their 1936 mortgage to Bank of America.  On that same day they recorded the sale of the property to the Pappas family.  An entry in a 1948 California Journal of Mines and Geology article reports the operator of Howard Springs as J.P. Francisco, but it was obsolete information.

The Pappas brothers -- George, Bill (with wife Dina), and James (with wife Julia) -- were to own and operate Howard Springs until the resort finally closed to the public after the 1970 season.  According to Elio Giusti, his uncle George Pappas had been a regular guest at the springs since about 1918 -- during the Laymance ownership.  One of the first improvements the Pappas brothers made was to tear down and replace the iron sulphur bathhouse, then the borax bathhouse.  The east half of the old hip-roofed Magnesia bathhouse was cut off in two pieces and removed to the pasture east of Big Canyon Road, and the remainder was incorporated into a new narrow building used as a snack shack and -- later with a flat roof bounded by a 2” metal pipe railing -- as a sun deck.  The brothers added a 29’ x 48’ recreation room on the east side of the lodge, and enlarged the kitchen to span the whole south side of the building.  The shed-roofed cabin that survived the 1929 fire was removed, and by 1948 more cabins -- singles, duplexes, fourplexes, and two fiveplexes had been built, creating a total of 64 units.  Much of the resort was landscaped with long rock walls.

The Pappas brothers continued the tradition established by M.J. Laymance, advertising the business with postcards showing various views of the resort.  By that time color cards were cheaply available, compared to the black-and-white cards of earlier decades.  They prepared a double-sided, folded brochure, with headings in red ink and a bright blue border, to tout the benefits of a dozen of Howard Springs’ mineralogically varied springs.  But the recreation opportunities -- “shuffle boards, ping pong, croquet, movies, wonderful hiking grounds” -- appealed mostly to aging clients.  The resort must have had an Old World air to it, as the Pappas brothers’ Greek heritage attracted a clientele containing 40% Greek immigrant families, and Italian-speaking Dina Pappas attracted another 40% that were Italian.  Accordingly, the concrete foundation of the old lodge’s east wing, destroyed by the 1929 fire and left in place, was developed into a bocci ball court and later a croquet court.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 10:14

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