George and Myrtie Webber are the most well-known owners and operators of the Western Hotel. Here, George is shown standing outside of the Western Hotel, c. 1908.
George originally arrived in Lancaster in 1885 as an English businessman. He had come to Lancaster from London to experiment with utilizing Joshua tree fiber and pulp as a paper source. The project was soon abandoned, with the idea labeled as “costly and ineffective.” After the failed project, George left Lancaster but remained in California. It is said that he tried his hand at engineering in Los Angeles, and laid out the city of Santa Monica.
Eventually, he returned to the Antelope Valley and is listed in the 1900 U.S. Census as an ore miner in Fairmont Township. His attempts to acquire the Western Hotel began shortly thereafter. He was listed as proprietor from 1906-1908, and the mortgage was transferred to his name in 1908.
While operating as the hotel owner and manager, he met Myrtle “Myrtie” Eveline Gibson Sullivan. She arrived in Lancaster on the midnight train on August 31, 1908, and was directed to the Hotel up the street. Very sick, she ended up spending the next two weeks in bed, under George Webber’s care. When she recovered, she began working at the hotel. The pair were married two years later, in February 1910. Around 1913, George transferred the title of the property to Myrtie.
In 1916, the Antelope Valley Ledger Gazette reported that the Webber’s Hotel had a hard time making room for settlers and others who were looking over the valley. “Old Jeff,” the drayman, was busy continually picking up guests at the train depot. Business so improved that the Webbers gradually enlarged the Hotel and even bought out their old competitor, the Lancaster Hotel, in hopes of making an additional annex, but a fire at the Lancaster Hotel quickly put an end to this endeavor.
George continued to operate the Western Hotel with Myrtie until he died in 1934. Myrtie ran the Western Hotel until the 1960s and remained the owner of the property until it sold in the 1970s.
"Gurba, Norma H. Lancaster. Arcadia, 2005.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"