Press Room

Hotel Del’s New History Book Honors Landmark’s 125th Birthday

Coronado, CA– Hotel del Coronado has published a new history book to commemorate its 125th birthday in 2013. The 208-page coffee-table book, Hotel del Coronado History, contains more than 400 photos, most of them never-before-published.

According to hotel historian, Christine Donovan, who researched and wrote the book, new information and images have come from a variety of sources, including the hotel’s own archives, “We are always uncovering new memorabilia and photos, and it’s wonderful to be able to share our latest finds.”

Other entries were donated by individuals whose ancestors visited or worked at The Del. Adds Donovan, “The Del is fortunate to be the recipient of so many personal photos and reminiscences dating back to the first days of the hotel.”

Descendants of Edward Vincent Surr, who was employed by The Del in 1893, donated photos of their Del ancestor, along with information from Surr’s 1924 memoir, in which he detailed his days at the hotel. Surr began employment as a bootblack (and had the opportunity to observe visiting Vice President Adlai Stevenson having his hair cut). Later, he served on the boards of directors of a number of enterprises owned by hotel owner John D. Spreckels. In 1896, Surr’s sister, artist Jane Morin Surr Krause, visited Coronado, and her impressionist rendering of The Del is also included in the hotel’s new book.

The book features many full-page photos and includes chapters detailing the hotel’s 125-year chronology. Other sections focus on specific subjects such as presidential visits, guest activities and Tent City. Vintage photos also document The Del’s ever-changing décor, from guestrooms to the famed Crown Room. There is even a chapter on the hotel’s ghost, Kate Morgan.

“The photos are wonderful,” adds Donovan, “but what really makes them special are the stories that go along with them.” Some of the author’s favorite stories feature the hotel’s “resident guests,” long-term tenants who lived at The Del (according to Donovan, hotel residencies were a fairly common practice for America’s mid-century elite). One guest, Pauline Friedman, enjoyed an especially long tenure with her terrier Thrifty, who was served special room service dinners. Donovan points to 1950s for being an especially rich reservoir: “At that time, the hotel employed a fulltime photographer, and everything was documented – from vacationing guests to celebrity visitors and even convention activities.”

Guests’ impromptu snapshots are equally revealing, as family photos donated by Michael Margolin illustrate. His father was able to capture four shots of Marilyn Monroe during the 1958 filming of Some Like It Hot. Rhonda Fullam Welch’s family photo album includes the beautiful debutante in party costume alongside socialite Wallis Warfield Spencer (the future Duchess of Windsor), who is also included in a photo of Welch’s bridal party along with her then-husband, Lieutenant Commander Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr.

The new history book showcases many of the resort’s brochures and other promotional pieces, and vintage menus document more than changes in the hotel’s culinary history. For instance, early menus always included the day’s noontime temperature, a nod the hotel’s mostly East Coast guests. During World War II, menus referenced “Meatless Day for Victory” in support of the nationwide effort to conserve meat for the troops.

“There are definitely a lot of ‘famous’ highlights associated with the Hotel del Coronado,” concludes Donovan, “but our everyday history is the most engaging, and it’s wonderful to be able to step back in time and experience the daily life of a long-ago Del.”

Hotel del Coronado History is available for $39.95 in The Del’s gift shops, online or via phone at 888.236.1357.

Hotel del Coronado
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118

Reservations: 1.800.468.3533
Resort Information: 1 619 435 6611

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