The hotel was the port of call for many sailors when they were in the city, and they would often bring the well liked owner gifts and trinkets from around the world. The trinkets led Woodward towards being a collector, and sparked off what would become a life long obsession. He loved to collect plants, animals, and pieces of art.
Due to the success of his venture Woodward was able to become quite wealthy, leading him to purchase a piece of land on Mission Street, building a home for him and his family. His beautiful home intrigued the local residents of San Francisco who would often try to gain an invitation inside. It became such a popular idea that in 1883 the San Francisco Examiner wrote, “Woodward realized that it was only a question of being pestered forever or quietly throwing open his place.”
Eventually Woodward did decide to open up his home to the public. He took trips to Europe to find thousands of dollars worth of unique artwork and geological and animal specimens, turning the home into a public attraction.