Detail. Click to enlarge.
Hotel Lebec. Unused real photo postcard by Dorman Bros. of Bakersfield, 1921-1923. Back is undivided and otherwise blank. Card reads:
HOTEL LEBEC — Altitude 3600 feet. Where you leave the world behind and enjoy all the comforts of the most modern hotel.
Near beautiful Lake Castac, 3 hours from Los Angeles and 42 miles south of Bakersfield.
(Lake Castac, aka Lake Castaic, is a natural water body in Lebec and should not be confused with the California Department of Water Resources' Castaic Lake Reservoir of the 1970s.)
We know the approximate date of the photograph because it's from the same issuance as this view, which is no earlier than 1921 and no later than 1923.
According to Henley's Photo of Bakersfield (accessed 2018), Charles F. Dorman, a photographer from The Denver Post, and his younger brother, Claude, began working at a haberdashery in Bakersfield
in 1904. In 1907 they went into business with John B. James and formed James & Dorman, a portrait studio at 1677 Chester Avenue. The partnership dissolved in 1911. The name changed to Dorman Bros., same address, while
James opened a studio elsewhere in Bakersfield.
The brothers split up in 1928. Claude, the younger brother, stayed at 1677 Chester Avenue but changed the business name to Dorman's Photo Shop. Charles opened his own studio at 1724 Truxton Avenue.
Charles died in 1935. Claude sold Dorman's in 1945. It changed hands again in 1946, 1947 and finally in 1948 when it was purchased by Joe and Ann Henley. Claude Dorman died in 1950.
In 1954, Joe Henley formally changed the name from Dorman's Photo Shop to Henley's Photo Shop. Henley's opened a second shop in 1962 and moved in 1977 from its original location on Chester Avenue,
where the Dorman brothers started out, to the company's present (2018) location at 2000 H Street in Bakersfield where it is owned and operated by the former Henley's sales manager, Jimmy Bunting and family.
Harrison Scott in Californian Historian (Vol. 43 No. 4, Summer 1997) writes:
The last major structure in place during the highway's glory was the Lebec Hotel. Construction began Jan. 15, 1921, and it opened for business four months later, on May 21. The hotel was the brainchild of entrepreneur Thomas O'Brien, a saloon-keeper from Bakersfield. Financing for the opulent hotel was provided by Cliff Durant, an automobile manufacturer.
The Lebec hotel was a "complete gambling joint with a ball-room, rooms and apartments" during its heydays from 1925 to 1934. Clark Gable and his actress wife, Carole Lombard, as well as gangster Benny "Bugsy" Siegal, frequented the Lebec Hote1. A 1926 touring guide describes it: "Hotel Lebec is new and high class, 80 rooms, thoroughly modern single $2-$3, with bath $4, coffee shop open 24 hours."The Lebec Garage nearby was the largest and best equipped on the ridge. Labor was $1.75 an hour, increasing to $2.40 after 6 p.m.
Shortly after the hotel opened, Durant sold his interest to Foster Curry (son of the concessionaire at Yosemite) of San Francisco. Early postcards from this period show the hotel under its brief stint as "Curry's Lebec Lodge," once located along the west side of Lebec Road just north of the Lebec off-ramp.
The hotel fell into disrepair and was officially closed on November 13, 1968, in response to health department charges concerning its substandard water system and dilapidated condition. The hotel went into receivership and was purchased by the Tejon Ranch Company. They torched the hotel and demolished the remains on April 27, 1971, only two weeks after acquiring the property. Two tall Italian Cypress trees mark the former location.
Read more here.
LW3226: 9600 dpi jpeg from original RPPC purchased 2018 by Leon Worden.