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Handwritten caption reads, “The Big Dam. Mr. Pratt ornamenting rock.” Blithedale was built by San Francisco homeopathic physician, John J. Cushing, in 1873 and intended as a sanitarium. The property, situated in today’s Mill Valley, totaled about 342 acres. When Dr. Cushing died in 1879, his widow Harriet and their son Sydney re-established Blithedale as a hotel, the first hotel in Mill Valley. Advertisements from this time announced “Furnished cottages, rooms single and en suite. Tents on raised platforms, furnished complete, electric lighted, with shower baths. Tennis, bowling, billiards, saddle horses. Convenient summer home for San Francisco businessmen with their families… Perfect climate; no fogs; first class service; moderate rates”
After several decades as a known destination for San Francisco society and beyond, the hotel experienced a decline in patronage and ceased operations in 1912. The main hotel building was demolished and the land was subdivided into 70 lots; some lots included Blithedale hotel cottages. The main hotel building stood near today’s 195 West Blithedale Avenue.