The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Spring 1997, Volume 43, Number 2
Richard W. Crawford, Editor

Classicism and Concrete

Harrison Albright's Architectural Contributions to Coronado

by Cynthia B. Malinick

Early in the twentieth century, a notable southern California architect, Harrison Albright, planned several distinctive commercial structures and private residences in the San Diego area. Albright, as other early regional architects, came from the east with little formal training, though he had designed numerous buildings throughout the mid-Atlantic region, in such states as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Eventually becoming an expert in the then-new construction material, reinforced concrete, the architect established himself as a solid producer of quality architecture in earthquake sensitive Los Angeles and its vicinity, the Phoenix, Arizona area, and San Diego. Across San Diego Bay, in Coronado, three homes and two public buildings, all commissioned by the prominent businessman John D. Spreckels, are archetypes of Albright's skill as well as his love of simple, timeless lines.

Calling upon the Italian Renaissance Revival and the closely related Beaux Arts styles of architecture, the architect obviously embraced the early twentieth century's City Beautiful Movement, which emphasized classicism and uniformity in city planning, and wholeheartedly introduced this form to the tiny seaside community. Unpretentious yet stately, the Spreckels Mansion, the Spreckels Beach Cottage, the Titus Residence, the Coronado Public Library, and the Coronado Bank Building provided the local citizenry tasteful, distinctive architecture. These structures share not only similar shapes, arrangements, and styles, but family and business ties as well. They each, however, have their own distinct stories to tell.

Harrison Albright, born May 17, 1866 to Joseph and Louise Albright, in Shoemakertown, Pennsylvania, began his career after an education in public schools, Pierce College of Business, and possibly Spring Garden Institute.1 Evidence also suggests that the fledgling architect apprenticed for several years at different firms before establishing his own office in 1886 at 508 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.2 For the next five years, he designed numerous residential and commercial structures in the vicinity, including homes, churches, schools, apartments, police stations, stables, and even a pavilion and boat landing.3

In 1891, the architect and his wife, the former Susie J. Bemus, moved to Charleston, West Virginia, where he opened an office in Rooms 6 and 7 of the National Bank Building.4 Again, Albright planned civic, institutional, residential, and collegiate works, and perhaps of more consequence, earned the appointment of State Architect for West Virginia.5

While serving as State Architect, Albright designed one of his most important West Virginia structures, the Capitol Annex, located at the corner of Capitol and Lee Streets. Intended to accommodate that state's Supreme Court and Archives, as well as to house the 'auditor and treasurer's offices . . . and the Historical Society,' the three- story, domed government building, as reported by the Charleston Daily Courier, 'would not exceed a construction cost of $60,000.00.'6 Due to restrictions of style based on the main capitol building across the street, this particular commission displayed definite aesthetic limitations. Albright's design did take on a some significance, however, since the first evidence of his concern regarding the longevity of a structure could be seen in the completely fireproof Annex.

In 1905, the architect and his family moved to Los Angeles, California. After being granted license number B-368 by the Southern District of the California State Board of Architectural Examiners, he eventually set up practice at 176 Chaffee Building. Minutes of the 28 March 1905 meeting of that Board, at 410 Byrne Building, Los Angeles, revealed that Albright 'exhibited . . . many [photographs of his] large buildings [including] hotels, city halls and police stations. . . .[and] in consideration of the magnitude of the work exhibited, it was moved . . that he be granted a certificate on account of his exhibits.8 Beginning with the Laughlin Annex, bearing 'the distinction of being the first reinforced concrete building erected in Southern California,' Albright planned this counterpart to the Homer Laughlin Building with 'a large area [to] extend to Hill Street,' downtown.9

With no apparent training in structural engineering, remarkably, Harrison Albright soon became popular for his commercial designs utilizing reinforced concrete. Perhaps because of the high risk of earthquakes and subsequent fires in the region, the then state-of-the-art building material found favor among many designers. Albright especially touted its characteristics, stating that

the absolute fireproof features alone make it most desirable, as should the fact that it does not deteriorate with age but becomes stronger, making repairs unnecessary, which cannot be truthfully said of any other known building material. . . . . There is hardly any one who will not concede that both concrete and steel are unexcelled building materials, hence a proper combination of the two materials, which makes reinforced concrete, must necessarily be all that can be desired.11

The architect also began to make a name for himself in San Diego, when in 1906, he designed the U.S. Grant Hotel on Broadway. This structure, like many others he ultimately planned in San Diego, utilized reinforced concrete.12 Concomitantly, Albright's work caught the attention of an important San Diegan, sugar magnate John D. Spreckels, for in 1908, he designed that entrepreneur's first business edifice, the San Diego Union Building.13

Thus, began a long relationship of mutual respect between the two men, with the architect recalling his capitalist patron as a "sagacious business [man]" who was fully convinced of the merits of concrete construction.14 Designing numerous structures in and around the region for the capitalist, Albright also left his indelible mark on the modest community of Coronado, where Spreckels had decided to make his home and establish some of his business interests.15

Spreckels commissioned Albright to design his personal residence in Coronado in 1907. With the July 21 issue of the San Diego Union headlining that the villa would 'be constructed of reinforced concrete,' the Los Angeles firm of Noyes and Boggs began work in August.16 Touted as '. . . one of the finest homes in Southern California,' the estate included a carriage house/garage, quarters for live-in help, and 'the most extensive Italian garden in the west.'17 As described in the July 1907 Union article, the home, if it 'were to be erected in Newport, Nice or Monaco, would appropriately fit into its surroundings.' The newspaper, in further tribute to both the owner and the architect, also reported that

. . . many pretentious homes have been built in California, but it has remained for Mr. Spreckels to discern the difference between a display of wealth in building and the erection of a residence on artistic lines.18

Rendered in the then-popular Beaux Arts style, the home's facade combined a smooth, cream-colored stucco with inlays of Alps green marble faince.19 The parapet roof punctuated with intermittent balusters, a prominent cornice with modillions and dentils, and further below, a dentiled belt course differentiating the first and second floors, provided further ornamentation in this eclectic residence.20 Multi-paned ventilators, laurel leaf garlands, and bracketed cornices capped some of the villa's full-length windows. Others featured segmental pediment crowns adding to the luxurious tone of the edifice.21

The magnificent manor house, located across Orange Avenue from the Hotel del Coronado on a bluff enjoying spectacular views of Glorietta Bay, had a box-like central floorplan, with terraces built on all four sides to take advantage of the panoramic vista. A full-width raised platform porch with an outlining balcony spanned the front of the home, while a covered portico, supported by eight simple Tuscan order columns, sheltered the principal entranceway.22

A semi-circular drive, marked by two monolithic piers at the edge of Glorietta Boulevard, directed visitors to the front door, while a port-cochere allowed automobiles to drive through and deposit passengers, who then entered the living room from this secondary entrance.23 A simple two-story garage stood at the rear of the property.

Opposite the entranceway, and also connected to a porch, a "gentleman's den" overlooked the garden, while a large living room with an inglenook, and the main dining room, each with their own large fireplaces, flanked opposite sides of the main hall. A beamed ceiling embellished the oak-paneled dining room, which also was provided with its own access to the exterior, as well as an adjoining porch and butler's pantry.24

In the main hall, a wide central staircase with an iron balustrade led the residents to the second floor. At the landing, residents could walk out to one of four upper-level terraces, or further up the stairs, reach the six bedrooms. With each bedroom having its own private exit leading to the outdoor balconied terraces, the Spreckels family and their guests must have enjoyed unsurpassed views of the bay. The sleeping quarters also had the added amenity of individual access to private bathrooms.25 Receiving high praise from the 1 January 1908 issue of the San Diego Union, Harrison Albright had provided the raison d'etre for the more artistic building of residences in [the western] section of the country.26

At the same time Spreckels selected Albright to build his family's main residence, he also employed the architect to design a second, smaller 'beach house' at the oceanfront, located a short distance from the Hotel del Coronado at 1043 Ocean Boulevard. This edifice, entirely of reinforced concrete, and completed in 1908, covered a ground space of only 30 x 60 feet, with construction again by the Los Angeles firm of Noyes & Boggs.27

In a departure from the more opulent Spreckels bayside mansion, Albright planned this two-story rectangular structure in the more humble Italian Renaissance Revival style, with a smooth stucco facade and a flat roof.28 Two adjoining wings with roof lines accentuated by an inset balustrade, as well as chimneys at both ends, added to the symmetrical appearance. A prominent roof-top pergola provided a third floor as well as the perfect setting to savor views of the Pacific Ocean.29

This house, which reflected Albright's obvious preference of simple lines, evoked a vertical effect, especially seen in the full-length wooden, double-hung windows, adorned only with flower ledges. An unpretentious covered and recessed front porch with two additional side points of access, another typical characteristic seen in this second-revival type of Italian architecture, protected the main entrance. Residents and guests approached the house by a semi-circular drive.

In contrast to the rather plain exterior, the Union reported that the handsome home's interior would feature 'natural birch for finishings.'30 The fourteen rooms of the 'beach house' included a reception room, living and dining rooms, and kitchen and pantry all on the first floor. As in the Spreckels mansion, the second floor contained six bedrooms, but with only three shared bathrooms.31

Harrison Albright also designed, in true Italian Renaissance Revival fashion, 'one of the finest homes in either Coronado or San Diego,' as well as a garage for John Spreckels' personal friend and corporate attorney, Harry Lewis Titus.32 The residence, located at the southwest corner of Eighth Street and Orange Avenue and again, constructed by Noyes & Boggs of Los Angeles, also utilized reinforced concrete throughout, 'including footings, walls, floors, [and] roof.'33

The two-story structure closely resembled the Spreckels' Ocean Boulevard residence, with its rectangular wings off each side of the entrance porch, and the corrugated balustrade outlining the roof edge. Once again, the architect's plans called for large, double-hung windows, some topped with multi-paned ventilators. Covered in smooth stucco, the exterior's stepped facade with projecting cornices had little other embellishment.

In a departure from the oceanfront house, though, Albright planned a wide archway protected by a tiled overhang for the main entrance, and smaller arches for the side passages to the front door. Additionally, he specified a roof garden for the Titus home, which provided wonderful views of the then quiet village, since the Union deemed it to be

. . . an attractive feature of the residence . . .
doubly so through being fitted up with outdoor sleeping accommodations.34

Finished in natural birch, the fourteen room residence included a reception room, a living room with a beamed ceiling and fireplace, a den, a dining room, a kitchen and pantry, six bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a 'private laundry.'35 Razed in 1938, today the Union Bank Building and a parking lot are located on the site.36

John Spreckels' philanthropic inclination also prompted him to call upon Harrison Albright in 1907 to design a 'free public library' in Coronado, which he donated

. . . as a gift to the people of Coronado. . . [and] intended [it to] be a model structure and one of the prettiest of its size to be found anywhere in the United States.37

Albright once again let the construction contract to Noyes & Boggs of Los Angeles at a $10,000.00 bid, and 'gangs of men [began] excavation for the basement and foundation' work in 'west plaza park,' facing Orange Avenue in June 1908.38 Complete with its own utilities system in the cellar, the edifice was constructed of reinforced concrete almost entirely, 'making it perfectly fireproof,' quite an important feature for a building filled with books.39

As with the architect's other Coronado designs, the library characteristically presented a Italian Renaissance Revival flat roof, stepped back, along with a decorative course of dentil work at the projecting cornice. A pronounced entablature encircled the entire structure, and in recognition of knowledge and learning, Albright called for a decorative frieze inscribed with the names of such classical authors as Homer, Horace, Cicero, and Virgil.40

Continuing with the classical theme, two pairs of Tuscan order columns on either side of the front double doors supported a small, flat-roofed portico, and a broad stairway bounded with electric light posts, highlighted the entranceway for patrons. Smooth, cream-colored stucco coated the exterior, while narrow casement windows, capped by stone lintels with keystones, allowed natural light to enter.

Inside, the 1600 square foot building contained a central reading room, with librarian's offices, and stacks located in the rear that accommodated 5,000 volumes. Alcoves on either side of the central reading room, also decorated by an etched frieze with the names of the 'principal authors since the Renaissance,' housed reference materials.41

Subsequent additions to the library over the years have added much more space. The last expansion, in 1971, prompted the architectural firm designing the new wings to proclaim a tribute to Harrison Albright's use of reinforced concrete and his talent when they wrote

. . . the structure should be satisfactory [to] resist horizontal earthquake forces of light to moderate intensities . . . the library is [of] historical significance to the people of Coronado . . . [and] is a direct link with the past history of the Coronado library. . . .42

Perhaps the most significant architectural contribution that Harrison Albright made to Coronado can be seen in the impressive Coronado Bank Building. Called 'Coronado's most signal[sic] advance in a building and commercial way since the erection of the Hotel del Coronado,' this Beaux Arts structure, exemplifies the fine characteristics of the City Beautiful Movement. It follows the graceful curves of Orange Avenue for 372 feet, and then sharply rounds the corner onto Loma Avenue for an additional 211 feet.43

John Spreckels, in 1916, commissioned Albright to design this building complex, which included a bank, a vaudeville/motion picture theatre, stores, apartments, and office suites.44 By June of that year, Frank von Tesmar and the Wurster Construction Company had moved a private home off the site and started clearing the ground of trees and other rubbish.45 Two-stories in height, the architect specified reinforced concrete construction of heavy design, 'corresponding to Class A buildings in San Diego,' making it as 'permanent and fireproof' as possible.46

Reverting back to his first building in Coronado, the Spreckels mansion, Albright combined elaborate exterior decorative detailing and colossal pilasters to distinguish and typify the Beaux Arts form. A protruding belt-course near the roof line, punctuated with stylized lions' heads, as well as a frieze garnished with fleurs-de-lis, accentuated the elegant bend of the massive building, which traced Coronado's main thoroughfare. Another Beaux Arts characteristic can be seen in the flat roof, with an unusual and modestly shaped central parapet with a carved emblem declaring "1917."

A symmetrical facade, complete with a series of grand, full-height pilasters capped by Corinthian capitals with inset masks, and topped with floral medallions, face most of the Orange Avenue side of the structure. These are balanced by another series of two-story engaged columns facing Loma Avenue. Pairs of double hung windows with inset flower ledges for the offices and apartments could be found on the second level, while the street level shops utilized plate glass, 'in as large sheets as possible,' crowned by delicate leaded and art glass.47

The impressive corner entrance to the bank, protected by an extended curved portico supported by two free-standing and unfluted Corinthian columns, featured an ornate door surround and cresting, while inside, no luxury was spared. As reported by the local newspaper, The Coronado Strand, after the December opening reception, the bank lobby's

. . . floor . . . is tiled, the interior being finished largely in mahogany, including furniture, fixtures, paneled wainscoting, pillars and pilasters. The walls are of Spanish leather effect, supporting an unusually ornate ceiling, the tone of which is a deep golden cream, [and] the capitals of antique gold effect.48

Natural birch finished the other interior spaces, and the one and two-bedroom apartments included French doors and wall beds.

Artificial and natural lighting, built-in vacuum outlets on each floor, and an automatic sprinkler system with a 'combined capacity of 16,000 gallons,' provided the most modern of conveniences, while a complete system of artificial ventilation 'insur[ed] an abundance of fresh air in all parts of the great building.'49 The basement under the bank housed much of this mechanical equipment, as well as a storage vault, while two steel tanks mounted on the roof contained the water for the sprinkler system.

The other primary tenant of the edifice, a fabulous $50,000.00 'motion picture' theatre, did not open until July 1917.50 The Silver Strand Theatre, deemed 'the finest on the coast for a town twice [Coronado's] size,' contained seven sky lights with art glass and electric lights for 'a subdued effect similar to daylight, brown leather seating, an orchestra pit, and stage.51 Today, the theatre is the home of Lamb's Players, while the Bank of Coronado, numerous shops, restaurants, and residents continue as tenants.52

Coronadans, as well as all southern Californians, should consider themselves fortunate to have had their lives touched by the breathtaking homes and public buildings designed by Harrison Albright. The specific five works explored in this paper are extraordinary achievements by a modest, primarily self-taught, yet very talented architect and engineer. His innovative use of reinforced concrete early in the region's development allowed these buildings to stand the test of time, for all but one of the structures described in this article stand today, intact and cherished. Additionally, his skillful treatment of such 'American Renaissance' architectural styles as Italian Renaissance Revival and Beaux Arts, continue to contribute to a built environment revered by so many of Coronado's citizens.


Notes:

1. Death Certificate No. 1105, San Diego, Ca. Albright’s father, Joseph, was born in Richmond, Virginia, and his mother, the former Adell Louise Jeannot, is listed as being from Switzerland; Shoemakertown is just north of Philadelphia, and changed its name in 1917 to Ogontz; and Charles A. Moody, ed., “Makers of Los Angeles: Harrison Albright” Out West 30 (April 1909): 316. This article reported that Albright attended Spring Garden Institute in Philadelphia, though because of that facility’s incomplete records, evidence substantiating Albright’s attendance are not available.

2. Harrison Albright, Philadelphia [sic][Charleston, W. Va.], 15 August 1891, to Governor A. Brooks Fleming, Charleston, West Virginia. West Virginia Department of Culture and History files. The printed letterhead gives Albright’s address, his “General Business Hours” as 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and his telephone number as 1185; and unpublished records at the Athenaeum in Philadelphia may document Albright’s apprenticeship with George T. Pearson and with Cabot, Chandler & Boyden.

3. Records at the Athenaeum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An extensive list of Albright’s works in Pennsylvania and New Jersey from 1881-1890 was compiled by the Librarian of the Athenaeum in 1983.

4. Directory of Charleston, W.Va., for the Year 1891 (Charleston: The Hindman-Bowman Co., 1891), p. 18.

5. Robert E. Murphy, Progressive West Virginians (Wheeling: The Wheeling News, 1905), p. 241.Works attributed to Albright during this time period include the West Virginia Asylum in Huntington, the Miner’s Hospital in Fairmont, the Shepherd College State Normal School in Shepherdstown, and the Preparatory Branch of West Virginia University in Keyser.

6. “Will Be the Pride of the State,” Charleston Daily Courier, 21 September 1899, p. 1. After the state vacated the Annex in 1932, the building served as the home to several different entities, including the Kanawha County Public Library. It was razed in 1967, and a bank now stands on the site.

7. Personal correspondence with California Board of Architectural Examiners, 17 August 1995; and San Diego City and County Directory (San Diego: San Diego Directory Company, 1907), p. 34.

8. Minutes, The Southern District of the California State Board of Architectural Examiners, Los Angeles, California, 28 March 1905. Among the exhibits displayed by Albright during this meeting were the Waldo Hotel, of Clarksburg, West Virginia; the Richmond Hotel, of Richmond, Virginia, and the West Baden Springs Hotel, of West Baden, West Virginia.

9. Homer Laughlin (1843-1913) was a highly successful southern California capitalist who made his fortune importing English earthenware; and Moody, “Makers of Los Angeles: Homer Laughlin,” Out West, p. 373. Other important Los Angeles buildings by the architect included the ten-story Consolidated Realty Company Building at the southwest corner of Hill and Sixth Streets, and the Santa Fe Railroad Freight Depot, both also of reinforced concrete. The freight depot is now demolished, and the Consolidated Realty Company Building was converted to the California Jewelry mart in 1967.

10. “Reinforced concrete” is defined as concrete embedded with steel bars of the proper form and size and in the proper position for the purpose of resisting tensile stresses.

11. Albright, “Reinforced Concrete Construction and Why I Favor It,” Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer 2 (9 January 1909): 6.

12. Albright was indeed prolific in San Diego, and designed numerous city landmarks, including the Golden West Hotel (Workingman’s Hotel), the Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park, the San Diego Hotel, the Spreckels Building and Theatre, and the Timken Building.

13. John D. Spreckels (1853-1926), bought the Hotel del Coronado in 1892, and went on to become not only one of Coronado’s great forefathers, but one of San Diego’s as well.

14. Harrison Albright, “Reinforced Concrete Construction in Southern California,” The Architect and Engineer of California 7 (January 1907): 37.

15. In addition to the five buildings discussed in this article, Albright also designed a sixth Dr. Patrick S. Donnellan, located on Adella Avenue at Eighth Street. Little evidence is available regarding this home, and therefore, this author did not include mention of it within the main body of text.

16. “Plans Approved for Handsome Home for John D. Spreckels at Coronado,” San Diego Union, 21 July 1907, section II, p. 11, cols. 5-6; and “Award Contracts for Residences at Coronado, San Diego Union, 26 July 1907, p. 12, col. 3.

17. “Coronado, The Incomparable, A Scene of Great Activity,” San Diego Union, 1 January 1908, section IV, p. 25; and “Plans Approved for Handsome Home for John D. Spreckels at Coronado,” San Diego Union, 21 July 1907.

18. “Plans Approved for Handsome Home for John D. Spreckels at Coronado,” San Diego Union, 21 July 1907.

19. The term “Beaux Arts,” (in French meaning “Fine Arts”) is a classical type of architecture popular mainly from 1885-1930, that used many of the same details found in other well-known Renaissance styles, however with more “exuberant” surface ornamentation. The genre was particularly popular in prosperous urban centers with “turn-of-the century” wealth, and was especially a favorite of America’s industrial barons with great fortunes. Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), p. 380.; and “Coronado, The Incomparable, A Scene of Great Activity,” San Diego Union, 1 January 1908.

20. “Modillions” are defined as ornamental brackets under a cornice; and “dentils” are defined as small projecting rectangular “tooth-like” blocks usually underneath a cornice, which, in this case, run along the top edge of the house.

21. A “casement window” is defined as a window that is hinged on its sides, and opens inward or outward; and a “segmental pediment” is defined as a crown of curved molding in the shape of half a circle, in this case, over windows.

22. A Tuscan order column is similar to the Doric order column because of its undecorated capital, yet differs due to its unfluted shaft and the existence of a base.

23. A “monolithic pier” is defined as a masonry support made from a singular stone, and often rectangular or square in plan; a “porte-cochere,” in French, is defined as a doorway large enough to accommodate wheeled vehicles. In the United States, the term has come to describe a porch large enough through which a wheeled vehicle can pass; and Spreckels, known for his love of classical music, had the porte-cochere enclosed in 1916 to create a music room.

24. An “inglenook” is defined as a recess for a bench or seat built beside a fireplace, sometimes covered by the chimney breast; and “Coronado, The Incomparable, A Scene of Great Activity,” San Diego Union, 1 January 1908.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid.; and “Plans Approved for Handsome Home for John D. Spreckels at Coronado,” San Diego Union, 21 July 1907. After Spreckels’ death in 1926, Col. Ira C. Copley bought the residence, and immediately employed the firm of Requa & Jackson to design renovations and additions to the main house. The architects also planned a service structure for the back of the property, which currently serves as the Red Cross building. Elevations are available at the San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. Today, the home is operated as the Glorietta Bay Inn.

27. “John D. Spreckels Will Build Fine House on Ocean Front, Coronado,” San Diego Union, 11 August 1907, section II, p. 13, col. 4.

28. Italian Renaissance Revival architecture became popular in metropolitan areas such as San Diego from 1890 to 1935, as a “. . . dramatic contrast to the Gothic-inspired Shingle or Queen Anne styles.” The style, unlike the previous Italianate vogue, more closely imitated its original Italian predecessors primarily because technological printing advances allowed for clearer details to be seen in blueprints, as opposed to earlier designs based only on pattern books. Additionally, many architects had traveled abroad to observe first-hand buildings, prior to which they only had been able to see in sketches. McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses, p. 398.

29. A “pergola” is defined as a garden structure with an open wooden-framed roof, often latticed, and supported by regularly spaced posts or columns.

30. “John D. Spreckels Will Build Fine House on Ocean Front, Coronado,” San Diego Union, 11 August 1907.

31. John Spreckels presented the beach house as a wedding gift to his son, Claus, and his bride, Ellis Moon, in 1910. The couple remodeled extensively, including removing the roof-top pergola and replacing it with a hip roof covered in Spanish tiles. The house has had a rich social history through the years, beginning with a visit from the Prince of Wales in 1920. In 1982, the house served as the San Diego History Center’s “Designer’s Showcase.” The home remains today as a private residence.

32. “Coronado, The Incomparable, A Scene of Great Activity,” San Diego Union, 1 January 1908,” p. 26. . Harry Lewis Titus (1858-1917) had a further important connection to San Diego’s history, as he was married to a niece of the city’s founder, Alonzo Horton.

33. “Work to Begin Monday on Residences and Library Building at Coronado: Reinforced Concrete Used in Construction,” San Diego Union, 4 August 1907, section II, p. 13, cols. 5-6.

34. “Coronado, The Incomparable, A Scene of Great Activity,” San Diego Union, 1 January 1908.

35. “Coronado Enjoys Unprecedented Building Boom,” San Diego Union, 31 May 1908, section III, p. 17, col. 7.

36. Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1861-1936), the famed opera singer, bought the home in 1923. Also a friend of John Spreckels, she sang for him and his guests in the music room of his Glorietta Bay Mansion, and later for more than 25,000 people at the dedication of the Spreckels’ Balboa Park Organ Pavilion.

37. “To Erect Fine Public Library at Coronado,” San Diego Union, 27 July 1907, p. 7, col. 2.

38. “Contractor Begins Construction Work on New $10,000 Concrete Library Building at Coronado,” San Diego Union, 26 June 1908, p. 8, col. 3. The initial location for the library, near the Hotel del Coronado, had been selected due to the convenience of electrical hookups available at the nearby Coronado Beach Company’s generators. A group of citizens, however, opposed that site, and petitioned the library board to choose one closer to the ferry slips at the bay. The trustees agreed, despite the additional expense of providing their own heating and lighting.

39. Ibid.

40. “Entablature” is defined as the topmost part of a Classical order; and a “frieze” is defined as the middle horizontal division of an entablature in a Classical order, often decorated with sculpture, or in this case, inscription.

41. “Coronado, The Incomparable, A Scene of Great Activity,” San Diego Union, 1 January 1908.

42. Delawie, Macy, & Henderson, AIA Architects, “A Feasibility Study for the Expansion of the Coronado Public Library,” March 1971, p. 7. Coronado Historical Association Files.

43. “Plans Approved for New Bank Building,” The Coronado Strand, 3 June 1916, p. 1, col. 1; and the “City Beautiful Movement,” first introduced in 1893 at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago, reacted to the wild conglomeration of Victorian mansions, “skyscrapers,” and slums of the Industrial Age. This architectural genre promoted “lordly,” uniform buildings, mostly white, and with even cornice lines, to evoke a serene and orderly sense to urban America. Spiro Kostof, A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 669-670.

44. “What the Architects are Doing,” Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer,” 18 (2 September 1916): 10, col. 2. The Coronado Bank Building also housed a local court, and later, the Coronado Journal offices.

45. “Work on New Bank Starts, The Coronado Strand, 10 June 1916, p. 4, col. 3.

46. “Plans Approved for New Bank Building,” The Coronado Strand, 3 June 1916.

47. Ibid.

48. “Bank of Commerce Officers Hold Reception,” The Coronado Strand, 30 December 1916, p. 1, col. 3. A 28 December 1916 article in the San Diego Union also mentioned that decorating was done by Tiffany Studios of New York and Los Angeles; however, through correspondence with the Tiffany & Co. archivist, this author could not confirm that statement.

49. “Plans Approved for New Bank Building,” The Coronado Strand, 3 June 1916.

50. “Building Permits Total $276,940,” The Coronado Strand, 10 November 1917, p. 2, col. 2.

51. “Silver Strand Theatre Opening,” The Coronado Strand, 28 July 1917, p. 1, col. 1. Madame Schumann-Heink also performed at opening night of the theatre, which benefitted the Red Cross Emergency Fund.

52. After many years of neglect and deterioration, the Bank of Coronado Building was bought and renovated in 1992.


Cynthia Malinick is the Executive Director of the Coronado Historical Association and the Curator of the Coronado Historical Museum. She also serves on the Board of the Decorative Arts Council of the San Diego Historical Society. She has researched, written, and lectured about several San Diego architects, including James and Watson Reid, builders of the Hotel del Coronado; and William Wheeler, architect of this year's San Diego Historical Society Designer Showcase. Ms. Malinick has a B.A. degree in education and fine arts from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. degree in history from the University of San Diego. Contact her at the Coronado Historical Association (619) 435-7242 or jsprckls@pacbell.net