As I walked down 7th Street in Sacramento, headed for the nearest Light Rail stop, my eye was caught by the vibrant colors on this building. The wall is only a small part of the former Hotel Marshall (opened in 1911 as the Hotel Clayton).
Downtown Sacramento is changing — some of its older buildings are being demolished to make room for grander, more modern architecture, while others are carefully restored. In the background of the image above you can glimpse the new Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings; the Hotel Marshall property will eventually become a new Hyatt hotel. Apparently, the building’s interior will be entirely demolished, preserving only the brick facade.
I thought that brick wall seemed familiar, so I looked through my archives and found this, taken last year as I rode past on the Light Rail:
Not everyone is happy about the fate of Hotel Marshall. For years it’s been a haven for those who have nowhere else to go, and many were long-term residents. In December 2014, the Sacramento Bee published a story called Last Days of the Hotel Marshall; it’s a long read but a good one, offering a look into a part of the city many people would rather not see.
Daryl Cullins, 49, had been homeless before moving to the Marshall about three years earlier, and spoke wistfully about the impending closure. A former magazine salesman, he arrived with a few dollars in his pocket and a brain scrambled by drugs, he said.
“We’re all from different walks of life here, but we get along,” Cullins said. “We get up in the morning, we watch movies together, watch games. We take care of one another. I have feelings for these guys. I’m gonna miss ’em.”
At least a few of the Hotel Marshall’s former residents have been able to move forward into better circumstances since their eviction. Sacramento’s redevelopment proceeds apace, and together we all move forward, never knowing what’s just around the corner.