The Peerless Rooms Building is
the single best example of a two-story brick storefront in Ashland
Photograph by Terry Skibby
The Peerless Rooms Building was built in 1904 by Oscar and Lucinda
Ganiard, who built many commercial buildings in Ashland, including
the Ganiard Opera House. Long used for lodging in the railroad district
(and known as "The Ganiard Building"), the vernacular "brick front"
commercial style building is typical of the once prevalent rooming
houses developed to serve the working-class men and women drawn
to Ashland in the early years of the 20th century. It was during
this time when such single-room occupancy was the norm for residents
of a working-class community. Following the 1887 completion of a
north-south rail link over the formidable Siskyiou Mountains to
the south, the Southern Pacific Company and its employees assumed
a major role in the Ashland economy. Since Ashland's primary business
district was located along Ashland Creek, over a mile distant from
the tracks, a second commercial area developed along Fourth Street
in what became known as "the railroad district." Given the transitory
nature of railroad employment, many of Southern Pacific's employees
kept to themselves, avoiding the Ashland community at large. The
large number of rooming houses in the Railroad
District also provided low-cost housing for a number of young
laborers, single women, and traveling salesmen who were drawn to
Ashland by the booming economy that the railroad stimulated.
It was under the ownership of Sarah Meekly that the building received
the name, "Peerless Rooms," in 1910. A significant element of the
building is the sign painted on the brick proclaiming "Peerless Rooms"
(probably dating from around 1915) with an early "Coca-Cola" advertisement.
Long considered a "ghost" sign, it now has been restored. In late
1991 the Ganiard Building was purchased for restoration to its original
use, although considerably upgraded from its working-class status.
As "The Peerless Hotel" it is a luxury enterprise that strives to
recreate the aura of a Victorian upper-class inn that now caters to
Ashland's tourist population. The Peerless Rooms is the single best
surviving example of the two-story brick storefront associated with
the development of the commercial area centered on Ashland's railroad
Historic image, date unknown, of
The Peerless Rooms Building which originally provided single
room occupancy for working-class residents
Courtesy of The Terry Skibby Collection
The Peerless Rooms Building, now the Peerless Hotel, is located
at 243 Fourth Street. Call 1-800-460-8758 or visit www.peerlesshotel.com
for further information about the hotel.