September 23, 2012: Three plaster/stucco lamp posts, salvaged from the ruins of the Hotel Lebec, adorn the grounds of the Ridge Route Communities Museum at 3515 Park Drive in Frazier Park. Members of the Ridge Route Communities Historical Society have restored the posts and the lamps, which light up at night.
The museum grounds feature a nice assortment of items reflecting the rich and varied history of the Ridge Route communities, including replica native American dwellings (used to teach school children about the area’s earliest inhabitants), a relocated landmark plaque commemorating El Camino Viejo (the old Spanish trail that ran through the mountains), John Cuddy's log cabin from the 1850s, and a recreated 1930s-style gas station.
Signage in front of the lamp posts reads: "These three lamp posts originally stood in front of the Hotel Lebec located on the Ridge Route. The hotel opeend in May 1921 as the Hotel Durant and was later taken over by Thomas O'Brien who renamed it the Hotel Lebec. A number of famous people stayed in the hotel and walked past these lamp posts during the 1920s and 1930s, such as Charles [Lindbergh], Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Jack Dempsey, Rex Bell, Clara Bow and Buster Keaton."
According to Ridge Route historian Harrison Scott:
The Lebec Hotel was built in 1921 by Thomas O'Brien, a saloon keeper from
Bakersfield, and Cliff Durant, an automobile manufacturer and airplane instructor from Oakland.
The hotel was built to resemble a French chateau. It was a playland for Hollywood executives and
stars in its heyday. Clark Gable and his actress wife Carole Lombard, as well as gangster Benny
"Bugsy" Siegel, frequented the Lebec Hotel.
Shortly after the hotel opened, Durant apparently tired of his investment and sold his interest to Foster
Curry, son of the concessionaire at Yosemite, in 1922. Curry and his wife brought a series of lawsuits against
O'Brien to rescind the sale, alleging that O'Brien
had improperly instituted a foreclosure on Curry's note.
Somehow O'Brien managed to gain control of the hotel as a result of an in-court
settlement with Curry.
Over the years the hotel fell into disrepair. It 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
acquired by the Tejon Ranch Co., which torched the
hotel and demolished the remains on April 27, 1971, two weeks after acquiring the property.