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(Seattle & Northern 1890)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit.

Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Hugo Bauman and
the Rockport Hotel fire of 1952
Samuel Shea and Will D. "Bob" Jenkins

(Rockport Hotel Fire 1952)

Flames destroy Rockport Hotel

Concrete Herald, Sept. 11, 1952
      In the biggest blaze that has occurred in the upper valley in many years the Rockport Hotel, a landmark of that community since 1900, burned to the ground Sunday morning.
      The fire started in a bath room on the upper floor. It was found by Marvin Olson, who gave the alarm and awakened the other people in the building. It apparently started about 6:30 in the morning. the Rockport Volunteer Fire Department was on the job immediately and for a time were able to hold the flames in check in three rooms upstairs. Soon the blaze began to set other parts of the building on fire and they were unable to stop the spread.
      Meanwhile volunteer workers had removed some furniture from the lower floors. the Concrete Fire Dept. pumper arrived on the scene about 7 a.m. and began pumping water from the river. By this time the two pumpers and all available hydrants could only check the fire and prevent spread to nearby buildings.
      The building was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gurney Stafford, who have been operating the hotel and tavern since they purchased it from Neil McLeod two years ago. In the building at the time of the fire were Mrs. Stafford and [her] children Donnie and Rita Ann, [along with] Miss Doris Keller and Mr. Olson.
      Chief Bill Fritzinger of the Rockport Fire Dept. expressed thanks to those who helped his men during the fire, but also noted that some of the spectators lack good "fire manners" by running cars over the hose and otherwise causing inconvenience and damage.

Built in 1901
      The huge hotel building was built in 1901 by A.V. Pressentin, father of Ed Pressentin of Rockport, as a terminus of the new railroad up the Skagit river from Sedro-Woolley and for the first few years was a popular resort making the train trip to Rockport in view the rough mountainous upper valley.
      The hotel was completed in May of 1901 at a cost of $4,500, a large sum at that time. Its foundation was on solid rock and it boasted of 21 rooms, hot and cold water and all modern conveniences of that era. Later an addition was added for the dining room and tavern.
      The Pressentins operated the hotel for eight years, selling to Johnson and Jensen. They in turn sold to the storied Hugo Bauman who made it well known during his almost 30 years of operation. At Mr. [Bauman's] death, Sherman Benson became the owner. He sold it to [Neil] McLeod, who in turn sold [to] the present owners. [Was this the later police chief of Sedro-Woolley?]
      The building has played an interesting part in the history of the upper valley and its loss will be keenly felt by the Rockport community, as well as those who had looked upon it with interest in recent years as one of the few remaining examples of the old time past years.
      Sadie's Hotel at Marblemount is now about the only one left from the early times. Several of Concrete's early day hotels burned in past years and the same fate has taken those at Birdsview and Van Horn.
      Motels will probably in time replace our vanished hotels but the wealth of stories and memories of such as the Rockport Hotel will never be equaled.

Hugo Bauman passes away [in Sedro-Woolley] Sept. 28, 1940
County commissioner is called; leaves local hospital, property
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, Oct. 3, 1940
(Hugo Bauman)
Hugo Bauman

      Hugo Bauman of Rockport, county commissioner from this district 3 of Skagit county, died Saturday morning in the Memorial hospital in Sedro-Woolley after a long illness. He was 73 years of age, and although sick for months, he had gone on with his work, until forced to enter the hospital a few weeks ago. Funeral services were held at the Lemley chapel on Tuesday afternoon, when a big crowd of his friends gathered to honor him.
      Bauman left his property which consists of the Rockport hotel at Rockport, to the Memorial hospital at Sedro-Woolley, according to terms of his will which was field in superior court today by attorney A.H. Ward. A. H. Bingham is named as executor.
      Hugo Bauman had served this part of the county for eleven years as county commissioner. He was born in Pennsylvania, but had spent most of his adult years in Sedro-Woolley and the upper valley. At one time he operated the Osterman hotel in Sedro-Woolley and also hotels at Monroe and Bellingham. Bauman bought the Osterman hotel in [about] 1900 and a few years later sold it to J.C. Wixson [summer of 1909]. It was located where the Gateway Hotel now stands. In 1909 Bauman bought the Rockport hotel and lived there the rest of his life.
      Before coming To Washington he worked as clerk in the famous Palmer house in Chicago and then served several years as auditor for the Pacific hotel company, traveling from Iowa to Oregon. He was educated in the east and in Germany, attending one or two colleges.
      In 1928, when Gid Clark of Sedro-Woolley resigned while county commissioner, Bauman was appointed to fill out the unexpired term. He was later elected to two years and re-elected in 1930, and in 1932 managed survive the Democratic landslide and was elected for a four year term. He ran again in 1938 and was elected to a four year term.
      Bauman was a Republican political leader in this county for many years and took an active part in the development of the county, by helping get new roads and also was interested in timber and mineral properties.
      He is survived by his brother, Henry Bauman of Seattle. Funeral services at the Lemley chapel Tuesday were conducted by the Rev. A.W. Wilson of Mt. Vernon, with the Sedro-Woolley Knights of Pythias lodge in charge. Honorary pallbearers included Judge W.L. Brickey, John Mason, Wallace Sharpe, Carl Kloke, Pat McCarthy, George Dunlap and active pallbearers were A.H. Bingham, Larry Stave, Bob Parker, George Johnson, Clyde Wagner and Sig Berglund. Music at the services included singing by Mrs. E.P. Jech, Mrs. G.A. Jones and Guy Rowland. Cremation at Bellingham followed the service.

      Ed. note: Bauman's first hotel in the Northwest was the Osterman House, which was built in old Woolley in 1890 by C.W. Waldron as the St. Clair, named after lake near his hometown in Michigan. Waldron became the largest landholder in old Fairhaven, the town that boomed at the same time as Sedro, and he built a bank there along with investing in P.A. Woolley's company town. The hotel was bought by William and Maggie Osterman in 1895 and continued under that name even after Bauman bought it from them in about 1900. He originally had a partner but bought the hotel outright in 1903. In the summer of 1909 he sold the hotel to Wisconsin lumberman J.C. Wixson, who developed the biggest mill in Big Lake. Within weeks the Osterman House burned to the ground, including the furniture that Hugo planned to use for the Rockport Hotel. But Bauman took it all in stride and established the most famous upriver hotel and Wixson cleared away the wreckage and built the Wixson Hotel and Club, which evolved into today's Gateway. There is a humorous note about Bauman in a 1907 newspaper article that suggests that he was a "hands-on" hotel owner. The reporter noted that Bauman froze his hands while trying to keep water pipes of his Woolley hotel from freezing and then joked that Hugo was "confined to bed with pipedreams."

Click on these thumbnails for full-sized photos
(Rockport Hotel 1915)
(Rockport Depot circa 1901)
(Rockport depot teen years or '20s)
Left: Rockport Hotel in 1915. After the hotel burned in 1952, a tavern was built on the same spot. The tavern is still there; years later it also caught fire.
Center: The Rockport switching yards for the Seattle & Northern Railroad, circa 1901, when tracks were extended to Rockport. This is now the site of Howard Miller Steelhead Park.
Right: The Rockport depot at the end of the line for the Great Northern, circa teen years or '20s.

Story posted on Jan. 1, 2001, and updated on Aug. 27, 2003
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