Before we became known as a lovely Central Coast Wine Country Hotel, The Historic Carlton Hotel began as the Atascadero Development Syndicate in 1928. Designed as a single-story block-long building, Fred Bartholomew (the owner/manager of the Atascadero Inn — a unique hotel where the current Junior High sits) made an agreement to open a 52-room hotel on the second floor.
This California luxury hotel used to be called "The Annex" and was a top-of-the-line companion to the Atascadero Inn. It was one of the most luxurious places to stay in California. Retailers such as J.C. Penney, Sprouse-Reitz and Safeway opened their doors on the main floor of the building in October 1929. The formal opening of The Annex was in November of that same year.
A few years later, Kenneth Filmore took over ownership of The Annex and renamed it the "Hotel Halfway and Coffee Shop." It changed hands again in 1931, when Nola Tunks and her brother George Clark bought the building. For the third time, with new owners came a new name for the hotel. Tunks announced she planned to call it, "...the Carlton , a more distinctive name well known in the east and associated always with hotels of high standing." Tunks added a neon sign to the rooftop (it's still there today) and soon the Radio and TV personalities including Jack Benny, Bette Davis, Fred MacMurray, Dick Powell and Ralph Bellamy often stayed at the Carlton.
New owners over the next 20 years would bring more change to the Carlton. In August of 1936, it was sold to Lewis Sutton and F. Porter Brown. The two businessmen cut an entrance into the corner of the building and created a champagne glass made of tiles to welcome visitors at the door. Phillip Zarabozo became the next owner and made the most significant change to the Carlton. In 1952, he added the clock tower, which still stands today as a local city landmark.
Over the years, several more families owned the Carlton. In its final years, the grand, luxurious California hotel became a senior housing complex. It sat vacant, and in limbo, for many years.
In 1999, the current owners purchased the hotel with plans to renovate and restore it to its former beauty. After years of careful renovation and thoughtful sourcing, the hotel reopened its guestrooms in January 2005. Since then, countless families on vacation, couples out for a getaway and locals wanting a night away from home have all called the Carlton their home away from home. We look forward to seeing familiar faces in the future and to meeting new friends who come to stay.