Janet Wortman would drive by The Historic Requa Inn for 60 years and dream of owning it. When she entered its kitchen for the first time as a potential buyer, the inn was home.
This is why, 10 years after she, her husband Marty and their children Thomas and Geneva tore off the pink vinyl paper that covered the walls, pulled up old carpet, put tile in the bathrooms and wainscoting in the bedrooms, Wortman says putting the inn up for sale two months ago was a hard decision.
“The inn is really special,” she said. “This is the first time in 160 years that this property the inn sits on has been owned by a Yurok Tribal member. But I have my grandbabies, and I am not able to be involved in the community as I would like to be.”
Wortman’s roots are deep at Requa. Her mother’s family is from the House of Lay’euk on the hill overlooking the inn. Wortman’s grandparents met at a dance hall across the street in 1920. Wortman said she and her husband own a house and a cottage nearby and don’t plan to leave, whatever happens with the inn.
The inn, a 10,000 square-foot, 105-year-old building, sits on 2½ acres facing the Klamath River. Rebuilt in 1914 after the original inn, constructed in 1864, burned down, the Historic Requa Inn is listed for $1.99 million, Wortman said.
However, though it is for sale, Wortman said she’d be glad to find someone who’d be willing to operate the inn for her so she could be more involved in the community and have more time for her grandchildren.
Wortman said when she and her husband bought the inn in 2010, it was on the premise that her children would take an active role in running it. And while as executive chef, Thomas Wortman, who also owns Vita Cucina in Crescent City, still purchases the wine, the food and develops the menu, his mother said she realizes her children’s lives and careers have gone “different places.”
Janet Wortman said her husband’s two battles with cancer and the associated health bills also influenced the decision to put the inn up for sale.
But it’s still a difficult decision, Wortman said.
“I love the inn,” she said. “I love what it is and what it represents. I have other things I want to do too. If someone said ‘hey we’ll manage it for you’ and I keep it and I just come in every now and again, I would love that too.”
When her family bought it, in addition to restoring the hard-wood floors and doing repairs, Wortman wanted to focus on local organic ingredients. This includes serving drinks in cups Crescent City artist Mike Selfridge created; providing soaps and lotions from Del Norte County company Avreal and selling hats and jewelry made by Yurok women.
Meals at Requa Inn often feature Humboldt Hot Sauce, local jams and jellies and produce from Fort Dick-based Ocean Air Farms, Wortman said.
Estimating that between 12,000 and 15,000 people stay each year, including visitors from overseas, Wortman said many from Humboldt and Del Norte counties celebrate weddings, graduations and say goodbye to loved ones at the Requa Inn. For many guests, she says, the inn is a place people come to heal.
“I think the biggest complaint we get is people say I should have booked more days,” she said. “And that’s nice to hear.”
When asked about who she thinks may purchase the inn, Wortman said it’d be great if another Yurok Tribal member bought it, but, regardless, she’d want someone to run it because they loved it.
“There are people who feel like it’s a special place,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Yurok or a non-Yurok. To me it just matters that somebody loves it and wants to keep it a place where people can come and feel loved and nurtured here.”
The Historic Requa Inn is listed at www.innshopper.com.