The Dow Hotel was built in the early 1920s. Even then, Hollywood was looking for movie locations where there was a variety of scenery. Where better than the Owens Valley, with its snow-capped Sierra, its ancient Alabama Hills, its deserts and mountain lakes and streams. And when they came on location, they needed lodging. Mr. Walter Dow, a Lone Pine resident, could see ahead and knew what it could mean to the valley to have the big movie business, so he built the Dow Hotel.
Originally the Hotel had 55 rooms and one apartment for the manager. The front porch gave a magnificent view of the Sierra with Mt. Whitney the central attraction. The Dow Hotel hosted countless producers, directors and stars. To name a few of the stars, John Wayne, William Boyd, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Pat Buttrum, Stewart Granger, Errol Flynn, Robert Mitchum and Clayton Moore.
When the golden days of movies began to die down, television and tourism came in. Here again, film companies found housing at the Dow Hotel. In 1957 Mr. Walter Dow sold the Hotel to Mr. & Mrs. Joe Bonham and Mr. & Mrs. Ivan Turner. The Bonhams and the Turners built the first Motel section adjacent to the Hotel where Santa Rosa Catholic Church used to be located, naming the new addition “The Dow Villa Motel.” In 1959 a second section to the Motel was added, and a third in 1963. All three of the original Motel sections have had a major reconstruction and beautification.
The Dow Hotel still bears that refined, graceful air of its Hollywood heyday. It is constantly being restored to its original charm. It is well known throughout Europe and the Far East for its history, cozy quaintness, fair prices and friendly service. Because of its central location, tour companies favor the Dow.
The Dow property has been family owned and operated since 1957. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Bonham’s daughters, Lynne Bunn and Jeanne Willey, presently own and operate the Dow.
By building the Dow Hotel, there is no doubt that Mr. Walter Dow was responsible for much of the prosperity that came to the Owens Valley.