Exterior, Hotel del Coronado

photo by: Hotel del Coronado

Preservation Magazine, Winter 2022

A Renewed Welcome at San Diego's Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado, built in 1888 and named a National Historic Landmark in 1977, is one of the relatively few Victorian-era beachfront hotels to have eluded both catastrophic fire and the wrecking ball. Until a recent restoration project, however, its gracious south-facing veranda hadn’t fared so well.

A series of 20th-century renovations had expanded the Coronado, California, building’s adjacent interior spaces, first bumping the veranda outward from its original position and eventually annexing it entirely. When restoration began in 2018, “the south wall was about 30 feet further south than it was in 1888,” says architect David Marshall of Heritage Architecture & Planning. “And there was no veranda at all; it was all enclosed space.”

Hotel del Coronado_Lobby

photo by: Hotel del Coronado

An expanded check-in area greets visitors to the Victorian-era hotel.

Restoring the 1888 floor plan was impractical, Marshall says, so the project (shown at top) split the difference, reclaiming half of the previously annexed space and faithfully replicating the original veranda 15 feet to the south of its original location.

The veranda roof masks the offset between the first-floor wall and those above, Marshall adds, and backing up the wooden guardrail with an unobtrusive glass panel obviated the need to modify the original design to meet code.

The original women’s billiards room—most recently used as office space and a check-in area—was converted to a new, larger check-in area, with a white oak counter and marble top that follow details from the 1888 design. Crowning the project was the restoration or replication of 25 stained-glass windows original to the building, only four of which had survived.

Hotel del Coronado is a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust.

Bruce D. Snider is an architect, writer, and editor based in Belfast, Maine.

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