History of Dow Villa

Dow Villa Exterior at Night

History of the Dow Hotel and Dow Villa Motel

The Dow Hotel was built in 1923. Hollywood was looking for movie locations with a variety of scenery, and where better than the Eastern Sierra, with its snow-capped mountains, ancient Alabama Hills, deserts, lakes, and streams? When the crews came on location, they needed lodging. Walter and Maude Dow, Lone Pine residents, could see ahead and knew what it could mean to the valley to have the big movie business, so they built the Dow Hotel.

Dow Hotel Vintage Photo

Originally, the Hotel had about 20 rooms and one apartment for the manager. The front porch gave a magnificent view of the Sierra with Mt. Whitney the central attraction. It was later expanded, and now has 50 rooms. The Dow Hotel has hosted countless producers, directors, and stars, including William Boyd, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, John Wayne, 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. Dow sold the Hotel to Joe & Verna Bonham and Ivan & Barbara Turner. The Bonhams and the Turners built the first Motel section adjacent to the Hotel, 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 major reconstruction and beautification.

The Historic Dow Hotel still bears the refined, graceful air of its Hollywood heyday. It is constantly being restored to its original charm, and is well-known for its history, quaint coziness, fair prices, and friendly staff. Because of its central location, tour companies also favor the Dow.

The Dow property has been family-owned and operated since 1957. In 1978, Joe and Verna Bonham’s daughters, Lynne Bunn and Jeanne Willey, purchased the Dow, and still own and operate it today.

Dow Villa Lobby Interior