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Historic But Slumping Calaveras County Hotel Selected For ‘Impossible’ Project

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MOKELUMNE HILL (CBS13) – A hotel that’s seen much better days will get a much-needed makeover, and everyone in this small Calaveras County town will pitch in to help.

It’s the best-known hotel, restaurant, bar and pool hall in town because it’s the only one, but Hotel Leger is about to be seen by the nation for all of its unique quirks.

The hotel rooms are certainly historic and even haunted, some will tell you.

Antiques fill small spaces and the rickety hardwood is characteristic of any ancient 1850s building.

Debbie Rangell has seen Hotel Leger go through many changes in her 20 years there, but never such a lull in reservations. There were only two on Tuesday when they can fit up to 25.

“It’s a great location, great vibe, and lots of ghosts, but they’re all friendly,” she joked.

They’re about to get a rude awakening. Travel Channel’s show “Hotel Impossible” is set to take over this sleepy town. They’ll work non-stop from Thursday until Sunday with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

“I hope it gets a facelift,” Debbie said. “There’s things that are old and tired like all of us, but the building just needs some help.”

The hotel owner sent a letter to the show asking for help. Three months later, it was booked. Hundreds of people, including almost everyone in Mokelumne Hill, population 646, will be part of the renovation.

So what does Debbie think the hotel needs? She’d like to start with more guests, which may come if the hotel had a lobby.

“We need a lobby where we can check them in and an innkeeper to take them to their rooms,” she said.

Instead, Mokelumne Hill’s only bar is also the hotel check-in.

“At the moment this is where they check in, yeah,” Debbie said. “They come out to the bar and the bartender checks them in. Very awkward, you know?”

The dark, dingy banquet room that used to be a courthouse sits on top of the county’s former jail.

“At the moment it’s a basement full of junk,” Debbie said.

Hotel Leger was once the setting for more than a dozen weddings every summer, but they haven’t had one in a year.

So before the hotel turns into a thing of the past, Mokelumne Hill welcomes “Hotel Impossible” to recreate the magic that once made this place feel alive.

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