Tour: Old Oakland (4/14)
The Washington Inn is relatively new, but the building dates back to 1913. For many years it was the Hotel Ray, which like many other hotels in at the time, was a both a regular hotel and a residential hotel where people lived for longer periods of time.
If the lobby is open, head inside for a quick look at some of the historic photos they have hanging in the lobby.
As a long-time hotel, the Hotel Ray has its share of stories. Everyday people lived, stayed, and worked there. But much of what was recorded in the newspaper tended to be of the sensational variety—fires, robberies, even an illicit rendezvous or two.
One of the more colorful stories comes from 1951. Early on the morning of November 27, 1951, the night clerk, 78 year old Charles Cochrane, was robbed at gun point. After he was ordered to “turn over all the money in the place”, the bandits got away with $38.50. But these robbers had been seen before, likely being the same ones who held up the nearby Hotel Harrison the day before. A few weeks later, Mary L. Trout and three young men were arrested in Berkeley on suspicion of being Oakland’s “hotel bandits”.
The gang had an interesting M.O. Mary not only drove the getaway car and acted as lookout, but she carried a vanity case, where the gang’s guns were stored when not in use. In fact some of the members had been frisked by Oakland police following some incidents, but had been found “clean”…because Mary’s case held the guns.