Del Master Plan: Bringing The Del’s Historic Buildings Back to Life

The history of the Hotel del Coronado is in a class all its own, both architecturally and due to all the celebrities and nobility who have graced its halls through the years both staying or making films there, from Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Frank Sinatra, and more too numerous to list. Preserving key historical elements is a large part of the changes about to take place with The Del’s Master Plan. Every effort has been made to save historical elements and find new life for them. Keeping the historical integrity of the buildings that will become part of the grand new entrance will be a focus throughout the project.

Dating back to 1887, the Del’s original Power Plant was built with four Corliss steam engines and five Mather-type electrical dynamos. Described as the largest electrical plant of its kind in the world at the time, it generated enough power for the hotel and the entire island until 1922; so early residents received their power bill from the Hotel.

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The original construction was completed with scored plaster over brick, with the bricks fired on site using Coronado clay. Interestingly, there is a utility tunnel connecting the power plant and the hotel. This Master Plan’s restoration will include structural reinforcements with seismic upgrades, as well as interior renovations to accommodate employee offices.

The Ice House was built in 1889 with the same type of construction as the Power Plant. It was previously used for the Human Resources Department and its new use is still being determined. Structural upgrades and interior renovations will help bring it back to historical relevance.

Laundry building rendering
Laundry building rendering

The 1920’s era Laundry Building will be preserved with its front parapet and clerestory windows. It has operated continuously from 1920 to 2018. In the early days, residents of Coronado had their laundry done there and then delivered from the fleet of five trucks until 1940. Structural and seismic upgrades will be completed, as well as removing the non-historic paint to expose the original red brick façade. The windows, rooftop monitor and louvered vents will also be restored.

Oxford Building moving
Moving The Oxford in 1983

The Oxford Building, located at Orange Avenue and First Street, was actually the first major hotel and one of the first commercial buildings in Coronado, opening in July 1887. It served as a warehouse from 1890-1911, when it was moved to Ynez Place, between Adella and B Avenues. The building housed the female Hotel Del employees, and was a boarding house from about 1960-1975. It was purchased by Larry Lawrence in 1983 and moved to the Hotel Del site and renovated for administrative offices. An ADA access ramp will be added, as well as interior renovations. It will be revived again with painting back to the original antique gold walls, with trim and pilasters, and black window sashes and doors.  The Laundry Building and Oxford Building renovations have been designed by OBR Architecture, with input from David Marshall of Heritage Architecture & Planning who took paint scraping from the Oxford Building to uncover the original color scheme.

The Oxford Building rendering
The Oxford Building rendering

Some of the non-historical ancillary buildings will be removed, including the shingled two-story structure between the Ice House and the Laundry Building, as well as the carpenter and paint shop, located behind the Ice House, and the garage/warehouse behind the Oxford building.

All the changes in these buildings will help pave the way to restore the grand entrance to the The Del, which will once again be showcased by its famous front porch.

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Related:  Del Master Plan: Fences Signal Progress for Hotel del Coronado’s Future

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Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com