The Grande Colonial officially celebrates its 100 year anniversary as a cornerstone of the La Jolla and San Diego community.
In preparation of its Centennial, the hotel unveils a $500,000 renovation of its entry and foyer, lobby and surrounding public spaces and two adjacent meeting rooms. The sophisticated new décor carefully preserved the Grande Colonial’s enduring historic appeal, infusing a classic European ambiance and a refined, contemporary sophistication. In this spirit, the result showcases the fine architectural details – such as original Georgian style arches, original cast plaster crown moldings, lead glass windows and intricate hand-stenciled ceilings.
Executive Chef Jason Knibb appears on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, challenging the legendary Bobby Flay to a seafood showdown. Knibb remains the first and only San Diego chef to be invited to appear on Iron Chef.
The Grande Colonial takes another stride forward unveiling the completion of an $8 million restoration project. The project included the preservation of two adjacent historic landmarks, the Little Hotel by the Sea and the Garden Terraces, adding 18 new suites to the hotel’s inventory. The eight-suite Little Hotel by the Sea and the ten-suite Garden Terraces had operated as residential apartment complexes for the past 30 years and had now been restored to their original glory for the community to enjoy for years to come. To recognize their historical significance in the development of La Jolla, both properties were designated as historic sites in 1984 and 1990 respectively.
Putnam’s Grille closed its doors and the Grande Colonial opened what has become one of the region’s finest dining experiences, NINE-TEN Restaurant. The new restaurant opened in July and, since opening, has garnered numerous awards and accolades including an “extraordinary to perfection” rating by ZAGAT.
Fargo Colonial LLC brings aboard hotel veteran Terry Underwood as general manager. Under Terry's leadership, the Grande Colonial undergoes an extensive $5 million renovation. As a result, all 75 guest rooms, lobby and restaurant were dramatically upgraded.
Franklin Croft LLC and Fargo Hotel investors LLC joined forces to create Fargo Colonial LLC and purchased the hotel.
The hotel was sold for an estimated $13.85 million to a Japanese-based investment firm, Tokyo Masuiwaya California.
The space once occupied by Putnam’s drugstore became Putnam’s Grille. Reflecting the La Jolla of the 1920s, the restaurant was redesigned to feature dark wood paneling, wrought iron chandeliers and ceiling fans, oak dining sets and large picture windows that created an open, fluid environment. The original soda fountain was replaced with a mirrored back bar and alcoholic beverages were served instead of ice cream sodas. The restaurant also stayed true to its heritage by offering diners sidewalk seating, continuing the tradition of the past 65 years.
The hotel adds a swimming pool to its list of on-site amenities.
Three local partners purchased the Colonial for approximately $1 million. The Colonial’s name was changed to the Colonial Inn. Over the next four years the hotel underwent a $3 million restoration that brought back its original grandeur. The 75-room property was designed “like an elegant, European hotel” by San Diego’s Robert Carlisle.
The Colonial Inn receives the “People in Preservation” award from the Save Our Heritage Organization. It was said that, “the Colonial Inn... brings the very best from La Jolla’s past tastefully into the present. Elegance, continental service, graceful design and décor, all embraced in the ambience of a small European hotel.”
The drugstore needed more space, so Putnam’s son, “Putty” moved the establishment to new quarters, much to the chagrin of the community.
Hollywood meets the Grande Colonial. Following the war, the Colonial became a temporary home to some of Hollywood’s up and coming stars that were performing at the La Jolla Playhouse, founded in 1947 by Peck and fellow actors, Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire. Charlton Heston, Groucho Marx, Jane Wyatt, Eve Arden, Pat O’Brien, David Niven and many other celebrities occupied the hotel well into the late 1950s and continue today.
During World War II, the Colonial became home to many of the “top brass” from nearby Camp Callan. While the men were at Camp during the day, their wives volunteered for the local Red Cross. At night, the hotel’s sunroom was partitioned to create accommodations for single servicemen.
Bane leases the entire property to a “Hollywood man” named W. S. Beard. Unhappy with the way Beard was running things, Bane reorganized the business and R.C. Bugler was brought in as the manager. One year later, a more solid financial plan was drawn for the hotel and the rest of La Jolla grew up around this community cornerstone.
The “new” Colonial was completed, boasting 28 apartments and 25 single hotel rooms. It also had the first sprinkler system west of the Mississippi; solid, unsupported, reinforced cement stairways and fire doors that still exist in the structure. The La Jolla Drugstore was moved inside the Colonial’s main building. An ice cream parlor was added on the sidewalk that served up chocolate sodas and banana splits. The drugstore became a prime location for locals to gather, talk and watch the few passersby. Well loved by the townspeople, the pharmacist was the father of Gregory Peck, who grew up in La Jolla but eventually left for Hollywood and became a movie star.
Putnam's Legacy Begins. The La Jolla Drugstore, next door to the Colonial, was purchased by Kansas native Silas O. Putnam.
Owner George Bane commissions architect Frank Stevenson to design a hotel that would “rival anything in the West.” The existing building was moved to the rear of the property and a new, four-story, concrete, mixed-use building was erected in its place.
The Colonial Apartments and Hotel, later to become the Grande Colonial, opens its doors to become the talk of the town and a foundation for the community.