The Empire Hotel: We Clean Up Well

In 1912, work on the Empire Hotel began. By 1918, it was completed. We were young and beautiful, and built like a brick townhouse. We were the prettiest thing on the street.

Alas, the northern part of Californa Street was a tough part of town in those days. We catered to a pretty rough crowd and entertained a lot of questionable characters. By the 1930s, we were making a living mostly off alcohol and prostitution, and it was beginning to show. By the 1960s we were getting pretty dilapidated. A building can only hold up to that sort of life for so long. We had neglected our maintenance, and were attracting a very down-and-out clientele. Things were looking pretty bad.

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But then a miracle of sorts happened. A bartender named Butch Williams began using us as a facility for drying out drunks, instead of serving them. As usually happens when someone begins actively pursuing recovery, things began to slowly improve. We became a nonprofit organization with a Board of Directors, and dedicated our efforts entirely to the cause of sobriety. We were on our way. In time, we became one of the first licensed alcohol treatment facilities in the State of California. As the Empire Recover Center, we now operate a detox facility, a residential program and an outpatient program.

For a long time, we were focused entirely on our clients’ welfare; detoxifying them and helping them find a path to a better life. We still are, but at some point in recovery, you have to start paying attention to your own health and appearance.

Last year, we got a grant for $427,687 from Partnership Healthplan of California, mostly for renovation of the building. We have upgraded our software, plumbing, electrical and security systems, and are in the process of building a reception area and an ADA-approved bedroom and bathroom. And- at long last- we have focused on our external appearance, re-mortaring brick, repairing plaster and repainting the entire outside of the building. We owe a big debt of thanks to Karl Frandsen, our contractor, for his efforts in guiding us thru this. We admit it; older buildings can be demanding to work with.

The results are encouraging. There is just something about putting on a fresh coat of paint that makes an old building look and feel better. We are once again a presentable part of the community, proud of our appearance and our role in the renovation of Downtown Redding. We want to thank our painter, Michael Thon, of Sierra Paint, for his vision and attention to detail.

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As a treatment facility, we have a duty to preserve our clients’ confidentiality, and most responsible members of the community respect that — perhaps too well. We are not closed to the public. In fact, we welcome community members who would like to take a tour of the building. If you would care to do so, just call Marjeanne at 530-243-7470 to set up an appointment, or contact us through our ERC website.

We are a nonprofit organization, so at this point I am supposed to make a pitch for donations. Well, we do need them. Detox, especially, always runs a deficit. It costs a lot to run a detox facility, and for some reason, most people are pretty well out of money by the time they need detox. If you’ve got a dime to spare, please remember us.

More to the point, though, is this: If you or someone you know are in trouble with alcohol or drugs, call us. This is not just our job. It is a matter of life and death to us. Helping people recover from addiction is all we do, and all we have ever done. Many of us are in recovery ourselves.

We are proud of our services, and of our new image. With the new year, we turn 100, and are looking better than we have for a long, long time. Why don’t you come take a look at us? We think you will agree; we clean up well.

James Montgomery
James Montgomery calls himself a broken-down logger/garbageman who went back to school, got a law degree, and worked as a nonprofit administrator, before retiring. His interests include hiking, fishing, computers, kayaking, hunting and writing. He is now serving as president of the board of directors of Empire Recovery Center.
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17 Responses

  1. Jeri B. says:

    Wow! It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to the look of a building. It looks beautiful! Empire does great work and I’m glad you were able to get the grant and update your facility. Thank you for all you do for our community.

  2. Beverly Stafford says:

    After two attempts, I’m unable to donate on the website. After completing the form, a message appears stating something like, “This is embarrassing, we can’t find what you’re looking for” and a Search box.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      I’m not actually replying to myself, but my Inbox shows that both attempts at donating were successful even though the site indicated that my attempts at donating had failed.

  3. James, the oldest wing of the hotel was built in 1919, following a fire that burned down the original wood structure.

    • James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

      Interesting. I will look into that, as it is not what I have been informed of. Thanx.

      • James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

        p.s. What is your source on that? I would be glad of any historical resources you can supply. Thanx, again.

        • I’ve researched the history of the Empire Hotel as part of my research on Redding’s tenderloin district. Marjeanne has my contact info if you’d like to get in touch!

          • K. Beck says:

            How about an article posted here, you two?! I would love to read about the history of old buildings in Redding. Might help to save a few in the future.

  4. Ed Beaulac says:

    Nice article Jim

  5. Richard Christoph says:

    I noticed the new paint while biking by recently, and appreciate the background information on the building and its history.

    After 3 attempts to donate, the site finally allowed access but after processing showed the following message:

    “This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?”

    Thanks to Beverly’s note above, a check of our email showed that the transaction had processed correctly.

    Best wishes for tranquility and contentment in Trinity County, Jim, but our neighborhood misses you.

    • James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

      Thanx, Richard. A lot of great folks in the neighborhood, for certain. Come visit us, if you’re up this way. Same phone #.

  6. Gary Slagle says:

    Jim Montgomery from 13 dips? I remember you tending hook up at Saddle camp. glad you are doing well!

    • James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

      Hi, Gary. Yup- long time, indeed. We were young men, then. Is Harry still alive? That was a pretty nice show, even if it was in the middle of nowhere.

  7. Gary Slagle says:

    Yes it was a long time ago! That was the hottest dry mountain on earth without a doubt! Remember the water scarcity?? I’m surprised the timber grew so well up there. Dad passed away in ’05 but must say he was able to live every day….passed in his recliner with his boots and riggin’ clothes on ready for the day. we had the company radio’s piped into his living room so he never missed a broken skyline or a good line change! A couple more memories Jim, thank you so much for running that bear out of camp that late night, my wife was petrified! Also, I never raised the tower on a 108 without thinking about the time you two blocked one of Red’s…….and I raised a lot of ’em! Hopefully Doni wont mind a little personal correspondence on her page but I often wondered what you were doing. Mostly when I was raising a tower! Again, glad you are well.

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