Inspiring Revivals:The Cosmopolitan Hotel

May 5, 2010 | Photo by Nelvin C. Cepeda

This week, I came across news of the upcoming reopening of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in San Diego’s Old Town State Historic Park. While I haven’t had a chance to see it in person, what I have seen online is quite impressive. It’s clear that a great deal of effort went in to researching and uncovering many layers of long-hidden features.  Amazingly, despite the extensive multi-year restoration work, the Cosmopolitan Hotel is estimated to retain 80% of its original fabric.

Here in California, buildings this old are as rare as hens teeth. Being so rare, they’ve typically been set aside as museums; Interesting relics from an almost unimaginably rustic, distant time, understandably well protected behind velvet ropes.  Here in Los Angeles, the oldest buildings I work on are from the 1880s.

Almost unheard of in California are buildings this old, an 1820s adobe remodeled in the 1860s.  Even rarer are such buildings which continue to be a living, breathing part of the world; in this case, a historic hotel that is (once again) taking paying guests.

Old Town San Diego SHP has always been one of my favorite places. As evocative as individual historic buildings can be, its quite a different experience to be able to see an entire streetscape of period buildings and signange.     Old Town Sacramento and Harpers Ferry are two additional examples of entire districts  turning back the clock through the restoration, recreation and selective demolition of buildings.

I wonder if this month’s hotel guests will be allowed to soak in the the ambiance from the balcony with a cigar and a glass of punch?  I’m guessing not.   As much as the caretakers might appreciate authenticity, today’s carefully restored incarnation of the Cosmopolitan Hotel is probably non-smoking.

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