Guiseppi Angellotti was a true pioneer of San Rafael. He came to San Rafael in 1850 and saw the San Rafael Mission before it was torn down. At that time, California had just become a state and San Rafael was named the Marin County seat of government. Seeing a business opportunity, he bought the San Rafael Hotel at Fourth and C Streets, across the street from Timothy Murphy’s adobe. Although at that time the village of San Rafael was barely existent, Mr. Angellotti knew that travelers would be required to visit San Rafael on government business and would need a place to stay. He built a billiard hall adjacent to the hotel as well as a livery stable for horses. An 1853 Daily Alta California newspaper article reported that:
“….a good hotel is kept by an Italian named Angelotti, who will converse with you in any language (French, Spanish or Italian) save the barbare Anglais…”
The 1880 Marin County History describes San Rafael of the 1850s, mentioning Angellotti’s hotel:
“About this time there were standing in San Rafael twelve structures, including stables, barns etc… one of which structures was …the old San Rafael Hotel, a house of entertainment kept by two Narragansett Indians from Connecticut, named Bennet and Fagan, and which they occupied for several years, but in the course of time they failed, when their cook, Joseph Angelotte, became its proprietor. He made additions to the original small building until it assumed the proportions which it now has….”
Mr. Angellotti was born in Rome, Italy in 1821. He married Frances Osgood in 1860. The couple had two children, Frank and Emma. Frank Angellotti became an important judge in Marin County and in 1914 was appointed Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.
In the early 1860s Guiseppi Angellotti built a brick hotel on Fourth Street between B and C Streets. It was the first brick building in San Rafael. He named it the Marin Hotel. The bricks came from the San Quentin Prison brickyard and the convicts were leased out to do the construction. The Marin Hotel became the foremost hotel in Marin. The hotel could accommodate sixty guests under Mr. Angellotti's care. He sold the hotel in 1876 but continued to operate it. The building still stands today.
Hotels weren’t Mr. Angellotti’s only business. He was a true entrepreneur who bought and sold real estate and was involved in a variety of commercial enterprises. The tax records of 1860 mention that Angellotti received income from his hotel businesses, retail liquors, billiard hall as well as the slaughter of cattle, calves, hogs and sheep.
Instead of settling down in his senior years, Mr. Angellotti took off to Mexico to start a mercantile business. All was going well and he wrote back to Marin to encourage others to join him. Unfortunately, he caught a fever in Guaymas and died on Sept. 22, 1883. His widow and children were left to mourn him in San Rafael.
EDITORS NOTE: Cathy Gowdy’s detailed account of Joseph Angellotti and the source materials she used to research him can be found in the California Room’s biography files.