The Risdon and Mead Family
Yet a cloud on the title continued.
John Risdon and his associates alleged
an ownership right in the property.
They alleged that Orange Risdon, Jr.
had acted as their agent in his capacity
as bookkeeper for the Risdon & Coffey
Locomotive Works. All costs for building
construction, land surveying, and land
filing had been John Risdon’s. He alleged
that Orange held only a part interest and
was acting as agent and trustee for the
principles of Ware, Risdon, and Coffey.
Lewis Mead had no clear title. Securing
capital without a quiet, uncontested title
to the property was impossible. Mead sued.
The Superior Court confirmed Mead’s fee simple, absolute title in the property in 1885 after four years of counter suits, depositions, out-of-court proposals, and intra-family negotiations. Mead promptly borrowed $10,000 secured by the property for improvements to the site. Smaller buildings were remodeled and covered by one continuous roof. A residence, later known as the Mead Cottage was built. The salt basin was filled with ten to twelve feet of good earth upon which he developed a beautiful semi-tropical garden with evergreen trees, palms, and flowers. A large square was formed in front of the hotel by a wide graveled drive, and the square was divided into four sections by walks. Each section was beautifully landscaped and the entire square was lighted at night by gas lamps at each corner and at the ends of each walk. By 1887, he had created an oasis in the midst of an alkali desert and its popularity increased measurably.
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