Named for James Graham Fair (1831-1894), a mining magnate and U.S. senator from Nevada, by his daughters Tessie and Virginia who built the hotel as a monument to their father.
Shortly before the 1906 fire on April 6th, the property was sold to Herbert and Hartland Law, makers of a popular patent medicine. The brothers were planning a gala grand opening in the Fall.
The 600-room hotel, designed by the Reid Brothers, was close to completion when badly damaged by the 1906 earthquake. Even though experts believed the building should be demolished, Julia Morgan was commissioned to restore the structure, primarily the interior which was gutted by fire.
Insurance company records show the degree of destruction: Columns covered with wire lath and plaster were generally defective. Thirty-seven such buckled and a portion of the floors settled down about seven feet from normal position.
The hotel opened April 18, 1907, exactly one year - to the day - after the devastating fire.
In May 1908, the hotel was bought back by Tessie Fair, following the death of her husband, which she subsequently sold to hotel manager D.M. Linnard in 1924.
In 1929, the hotel was sold to George Smith, a mining engineer who had just completed the Mark Hopkins Hotel, who then fully renovated the property.
In 1941, D.M. Linnard repurchased the hotel.
Purchased in 1945 by San Franciscan Benjamin H. Swig, the first property in the luxury Fairmont chain.
Listed with the National Register of Historic Places on April 17, 2002.
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