Tag Archive: brothel

Remembering: It’s Not Always 100 Degrees Here


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We sit here in summer swelter just trying to remember that we once needed sweaters.

Pictured is the west side of the “Little House,” built originally as a servant’s quarters to serve the main house. My mom lives in this former-servant’s quarters now. Perhaps mentioning it in the context will get me into trouble. We will find out if Mom reads this website. Of course, I type all of this from a room that was a bedroom in a brothel.

It is hard to imagine the market for brothels when it is 100 degrees.


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It was a brothel? How do you know?


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Great-room

My parents bought Hilltop House in 1982 to operate as a religious
retreat facility. As we moved in, there were whispers in the community,
"Did you realize…?" "Can you believe it…?"

The brothel history was one of California Hot Springs' greatest
urban legends. Like all urban legends, it was difficult to separate
fact from fiction. It seems rash to gossip about the family of the
original owner — J. Howard Williams. His son had become a state
Senator representing the Porterville area and his daughter…? A madam?

The whispers continued.

An amazing thing happened sometime around the summer of 1984. A
woman showed up at the door and reported that her father was in the car
and really wanted to see the house. She had driven him from his nursing
facility in Porterville and had hoped we would allow them in.

The man was the nephew of J. Howard Williams, the original owner, and had helped on the construction site in 1908-1910
as a 10+-year-old boy. He told us stories about the beams in the great
room ceiling and the original doors, all of which we could verify (and
deserve their own little discussions).

In passing, this man commented on the work of his cousin who operated Hilltop House as a house of ill repute in the 1920s.

He just sort of shook his head as if to add "all kinds of things have happened in this house."

Indeed


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Centennial year


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Hilltop outside early picture-400

The brothel turns 100 this year. Her construction was complete in 1910, two years after Irving J. Gill penned her design in San Diego.

Stay tuned for a party announcement, likely in September.


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