Local News

Fullerton Heritage Presents Local Landmark #14: California Hotel

The California Hotel, now Villa del Sol (305 N Harbor Blvd), opened as a Class A hotel on January 15, 1922, with 22 apartments, 55 guest rooms, 10 first floor storefronts, two kitchens, a dining room, and a large elaborate dining room.  The three-story, U-shaped stucco on brick Spanish Colonial Revival building included a landscaped courtyard area, something not found in other downtown developments.  The modern hotel was one of only a few buildings constructed with funds raised by public subscription.  It was also the only one built as a replacement for a public comfort station.  The building was designed by notable Anaheim architect M. Eugene Durfee, who also developed plans for the adjacent Chapman Building.  The hotel soon became the social center of Fullerton, quickly becoming the place to stay when visiting the area.

California Hotel in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of Fullerton Heritage.

In 1964, the owners made plans to demolish the hotel and construct a car wash.  After serious opposition to that plan from the community, in 1965 the hotel was instead redeveloped into a series of small shops, restaurants, and offices.  The building lost some of its visual effect when it was converted to the commercial uses, especially when a new two-story addition was added across the front, enclosing the courtyard.

New owners in 1995 agreed to construct the necessary seismic structural improvements in a way that would not visually impact the building, thus preserving one of Fullerton’s major historic buildings.  While the building is a designated Local Landmark, the addition across the front makes it ineligible for National Register listing.

The current owners are caring for the property and are no doubt proud that it turned 100 on January 15, 2022.

Villa Del Sol Plaza today. Photo courtesy of Fullerton Heritage.

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