February 04, 2020

Photo Essay: The Spreckels Mansion at Coronado Island's Glorietta Bay

John D. Spreckels may not have founded San Diego per se, but he contributed to its prosperity more than probably any other investor.

And without Spreckels, Coronado Island may have never come to be the tourist destination it is today.

With a mere $500,000, Spreckels bankrolled the Coronado Beach Company's development of the Hotel del Coronado. By the turn of the last century, he owned all but five parcels of Coronado Island (including the parcel that would become the Naval Air Station).

And it was across from the Hotel del Coronado that Spreckels chose to build his own family home—or, rather, mansion—in 1906. He'd been shaken up by the San Francisco earthquake (and fires) that year and was looking for a little stability.

Two years later, architect Harrison Albright's six-bedroom, three-bath design was completed.

Just $35,000 also got the Spreckels family a parlor, dining room, and library...

...and an 800-square-foot, horseshoe-shaped music room, which was added in 1913 (and once housed a 41-rank pipe organ).

Fortunately, it was all constructed in earthquake-resistant reinforced steel and concrete...

 ...ornamented by a marble staircase and floors.

Instead of taking the stairs, the Spreckels family could've taken a brass cage elevator upstairs.

The Spreckels Mansion was sold a couple of times and, around 1950, it was converted into a bed and breakfast. In 1975, after some renovations and additions, it became the Glorietta Bay Inn.

Now, there's still an elevator—but it's reserved only for penthouse suite guests (and can only fit two people at a time).

The former mansion part of the inn now has a total of 11 guest rooms...

...including Mrs. Spreckels's master suite, now called the Sugar Baron Suite, once attached to the Spreckels Suite.

The entire hotel now reflects the legacy of Spreckels—as a sugar baron, railroad magnate, real estate developer, and even pianist.

It also pays tribute to the history of the island it sits on—including the adjacent "Tent City" camping attraction that provided a cheaper alternative to the Hotel del Coronado.

The Glorietta Bay Inn might be the lesser of the two attractions in terms of scale or number of visitors annually, but its Spreckels history is fascinating—and fortunately, they don't mind at all when you ask to look around.

Related Posts:
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Photo Essay: The World's Largest Outdoor Pipe Organ

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