Tonopah’s Historic Mitzpah Hotel

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This page last updated on 04/13/2017
(Fig. 01)
2013 Mitzpah Room
(Fig. 02)
08/08/2013 Trip Notes: This was our first opportunity to stay in this historic hotel (Fig. 01) since it reopened for business in the summer of 2011. I must say, based upon what I had read, we had high expectations and were not disappointed.  Even though our room contained all of today's modern comforts and conveniences, such as Wi-fi and a flat-screen TV, it was filled with period furniture and fixings, including a 100-plus year old claw-foot tub which gave it an “old fashioned” charm and feel (Fig. 02). 
2013 Mitzpah Lobby
(Fig. 03)
The minute we passed through the door and entered the registration area, see (Fig. 03), we felt transported back in time to the days when Tonopah was a thriving mining town. Leaving the registration area, you enter the large hotel lobby, full of period furniture for sitting and lounging with a beautiful long bar that almost runs the length of the room, that featured a fine selection of carefully selected beer and wine from many of the finest breweries and wineries in the United States.
(Fig. 04)
The quite extensive lobby area is beautifully and tastefully decorated with dozens of furnishings and items reminiscent of the period. Besides the beautifully upholstered chairs, couches and settees, there is the original (circa) 1907 hotel desk, a safe made by the Gary Safe Company of Buffalo, New York, newspaper racks, and much more. Located at the rear of the lobby, in what appears to be the original bank vault from the Tonopah Banking Corporation that was housed in the Brougher-Govan building, is the Otteson’s World Famous Turquoise Jewelry and gift shop (Fig. 04).
As soon as we took our luggage to the room and got ‘refreshed’, we headed to the lobby for a much needed relaxing drink after our six-and one-half hour drive. After retreating to our room for a nice hot tub, we changed our of our ‘driving’ clothes and headed down to the warm and cozy Pittman Café (Fig. 05) for a well deserved meal. For dinner we experienced simple, yet delicious meals made from premium ingredients with some special touches. Connie had the Salmon topped with a Bourbon sauce and shrimp; I had the Top Sirloin stuffed with tomato, cheese and garlic and topped with shrimp (Fig. 06). Both meals were quite good. We were slightly disappointed that they were no longer serving dinner in the more elegant Jack Dempsey Room (Fig. 07). It appears that this room is now only being used for special events.
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
During our stay, we drove around town and mad visits to the Tonopah Historic Mining Park & Central Nevada Museum that only seemed to further enhance the vibe of the town’s deep seeded mining history. While at the mining park we took a self-guided tour that allowed me to visit several additional mines and hoist houses that I didn’t have time enough to experience on my previous visit here. The Central Nevada Museum, with its hundreds of displays containing relics and memorabilia, provided a feel for what mining and everyday life in a mining boom camp was like at the turn of the 20th century.
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)

History of the Mizpah Hotel: Built in 1907-08 and named after Jim Butler's famous Mizpah Mine (which was staked by his wife Belle), the five-story Mizpah Hotel was the tallest and most splendid building in Nevada until 1929 and was the social hub of Tonopah. It rooms, many with red carpet, oak furniture and beautiful views, recall Tonopah's rich past.The hotel was pre-dated by the Mizpah Saloon, which opened in 1907, and was the first permanent structure in Tonopah. The current hotel is actually made up of two buildings. The Brougher-Govan Block, connected to the north side of the Mizpah Hotel, was constructed in 1905 and is still labeled as such to remind residents and visitors. Three influential Tonopah citizens—State Senator Wilson Brougher, his brother Calvin Brougher, and Robert Govan—who owned the Tonopah Lumber Company, financed the building which quickly became an important business center in early Tonopah, housing the offices of Brougher’s Tonopah Banking Corporation and Ramus Brokerage Company. The three-story Brougher-Govan Block, constructed of native granite contained rooms on the upper floors, that served as the first Mizpah and to this day remains connected. The Brouger-Govan Block was for a short time the largest building in town. The hotel portion of the business was prospering to such a degree that, in early 1907, four Nevada investors decided that the market was prime for a dedicated five-story hotel with the finest accommodations of the day. Designed by George E. Holesworth of Reno, Nevada (other sources state that the architect was Morrill J. Curtis) and financed by George Wingfield, George Nixon, Bob Govan and Cal Brougher who was involved with the Belmont, Tonopah, Midway and Tonopah Mining Company and the Tonopah Divide Mining Company. (Fig. 09) shows the outer doors of the double-door entryway.
(Fig. 10)
Construction started in the early spring of 1907, but was later held up when the “Panic of 1907”, brought on by a national banking crisis, hit in the fall and brought the Silver State’s mining boom to a screeching halt. Also, money previously committed to the Mizpah was utilized to help rebuild San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake. Through the winter of 1907-08, the building sat in a state of flux with its windows boarded up. Fortunately, the general depression recovered by mid-1908, and Wingfield was instrumental in resuming construction of the hotel that summer. The hotel’s grand opening was celebrated by roughly 5,000 people on November 17, 1908. Built to last, the reinforced concrete hotel was faced with stone on the front and brick on the sides and rear. Cast iron columns were used in the windows and fire escapes. The two three and five story buildings were joined with a wood stairway crowned with a skylight. Steam heat was provided, along with the first elevator in Tonopah. (Fig. 10) show the detail of the leaded-glass windows that surround the entire first floor.
(Fig. 11)
Over the next fifty years the hotel struggled as it mirrored the town’s own struggle to remain relevant amidst the growth of Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, and Reno as gaming and tourist destinations, Tonopah largely survived given its unique position as the halfway point on the long drive from Las Vegas to Reno. There were a couple significant milestones for the hotel during these years. On October 1, 1956, new owners Myron Stahl and Les E. Short erected a brilliant neon sign, a symbol for a promising new era for the hotel. The hotel eventually expanded its casino and cocktail lounge. The hope was short-lived, however, as a Philadelphia group seized control of the building in 1963. By 1966, the Mizpah was closed for business for the first time in its almost 60-year history. In 1976, Frank Scott, co-founder of the Union Plaza, had a dream about reviving the Mizpah, and invested $4-$6 million restoring and reopening the hotel. Unfortunately, those dreams died as Tonopah went through continual booms and busts. (Fig. 11) is one of the pair of 'welcoming' lights outside the main entryway.
(Fig. 12)
In more recent years, the hotel had been shuttered since 1999, however, in early 2011, the hotel was purchased for $200,000 by Fred and Nancy Cline of Sonoma, California. Though this was the same amount that it cost to build the hotel, that amount in 1908 would be equivalent to more than $4.5 million today. The Clines earned their fortune through grapes, operating Cline Cellars Winery and Jacuzzi Family Winery, both in Sonoma County, California. After spending and additional six hundred thousand dollars in renovations, upgrading wallpaper, carpeting, furnishings, flat-screen TVs and modern room amenities, they reopened the building to the public in August 2011. Twenty-three of the hotel's original bathtubs remain in use to this day. Nancy has said, "This hotel dictates 1907, and we're staying in that theme. To get out of that theme would be crazy. There is an authenticity to Tonopah that you can't find anywhere else." The newly renovated hotel features 47 rooms, a bar, and two restaurants; The Pittman Cafe and the more upscale Jack Dempsey Room. There are plans to renovate further rooms in the hotel annex and to add a small casino to the property. (Fig. 12) is a stained glass window on the building next door that the new owner is converting into a casino and bar.