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If walls could speak: San Diego's Historic Casa de Bandini.

From the far side of the historic plaza, the restored, two-story Cosmopolitan Hotel with turned wooden columns and baluster railings stands in the soft morning light--a sentinel to times gone by. Originally built in 1827-29 as the family residence of Juan Bandini and forty years later converted into Old Town's principal hotel and stage office, it is one of the most noteworthy historic buildings in the state. (1)

Few buildings in California rival its scale of size (8,000 sq. ft.) of blending of nineteenth-century Mexican adobe and American wood-framing construction techniques. It boasts a rich and storied past--one that has been buried in the material fabric and hidden in written and oral accounts left behind by previous generations.

Over its 182-year history, this San Diego landmark changed and evolved to accommodate new uses, new construction methods and materials, and new cultural values and tastes. Like history, it is not a museum piece. As Juan Bandini's single-story adobe home, its construction depended largely on local materials and the availability of Kumeyaay Indian labor from nearby Mission San Diego de Alcala. Its very size, advanced design, zaguan (central entranceway), and elevated position on the plaza represented the elite status and patriarchal values of a man who envisioned his home as the center of family life and pueblo activities. It also signified something less tangible or obvious: Bandini's resolve to stay and make San Diego his patria (homeland).

In 1869, when Albert Lewis Seeley, the Texas stage master, converted Bandini's adobe into the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Old Town was already losing much of its Mexican orientation and part of its Californio character--a way of life that was largely seasonal, task-oriented, and oral. The hotel, the pride of an American frontier society in transition, personified this cultural shift. It incorporated new building materials, architectural elements, and interior furnishings and features, as well as such amenities as clocks, newspapers, printed fees, and schedules. It offered a multiplicity of relatively new commercial services, including a post office and barbershop, along with its operation as a hotel, bar, restaurant, and stage office. In a word, the hotel embodied what society was becoming: more mobile in terms of distance and speed and more disciplined and exacting in time. It also reflected the differentiation between public and private space that was less sharply delineated in the earlier Mexican era.

Beginning in 1930, three successive remodels transformed the building into an upscale tourist attraction. The first, undertaken by Bandini's grandson Cave J. Couts Jr., was the most important because it signified a cultural redirection by a struggling community hoping to capture a portion of the heavy auto-tourist traffic en route to the city's acclaimed California Pacific International Exposition. Historical myths celebrating southern California's Spanish origins arose out of nostalgia for an idealized past shattered by the sudden rise of a modern, urban-industrial society. Future operators, attracted by potential profits from Old Town's identity with a Spanish past, converted the building into a luxurious Spanish Colonial hacienda that not only misrepresented its history and those associated with it, but also ignored the nineteenth-century Mexican California heritage.


The preservation of historic buildings, structures, and landscapes provides tangible links to an otherwise physically vanished past. They are part of a "living tradition"--voices from the past that help tell us how those who came before us once lived and worked. They narrow the "space of experience" that separates us from them. This is why California State Parks, with invaluable assistance from local preservation organizations, decided to restore this historic landmark to its appearance as the Cosmopolitan Hotel. (2)

Historic preservations and restorations are important for another less tangible but equally compelling reason. They ate places that hold collective memories, multiple stories. (3) They offer us a coherent identity. The question of challenge is which cultural memories, stories, or identities can or will be remembered. The Cosmopolitan Hotel is a case in point. Recently, the San Diego Reader published an article arguing that its restoration as an American hotel ignores by necessity or choice its Mexican origins and heritage. (4) The implication is clear: either the building should have been left alone, unrestored in its nonhistoric state, or it should have been restored as the Casa de Bandini, requiring the removal of the entire second floor in violation of preservation standards and law. Neither of these options is acceptable. The solution, if one exists, is to provide tours, a documentary film or commemoration, or nonintrusive exhibits that address the building's multiple layers of history and those cultural memories associated with it.


Juan Bandini would become one of the most prominent men of his day in California. Born in Arica, Peru, on October 4, 1800, he was the son of Captain Jose Maria Bandini, a Spanish-born naval officer stationed near Lima, and Ysidora Blancas, a native Peruvian of Spanish descent. The only surviving child of that marriage, Bandini, like his father, was the product of the Old and New Worlds. In his youth they sailed together to Europe, where Bandini completed his schooling in Spain and Italy with a focus on law. (5) During the second decade of the nineteenth century, Spain's New World territories were in the throes of rebellion against Spanish rule. Captain Bandini, who had returned to a politically unstable Lima, spent much of his time on the open sea, stopping and trading at Latin American and Mexican ports. In 1819 and 1821, he sailed up the Pacific coast from San Blas to deliver supplies and troops to the presidios at San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Ayear later, by then retired, a widower, and a loyal citizen of Mexico, he decided to resettle in San Diego, lured by the promise of a new beginning. His twenty-two-year-old son Juan, who admired his father and had no lasting ties to Lima, accompanied him. (6)

In 1827, Governor Jose Maria Echeandia granted Juan Bandini and Jose Antonio Estudillo, his brother-in-law, adjoining house lots on the plaza, measuring "100 varas square [277.5 x 277.5 ft.] in common." (7) Through his marriage to Dolores Estudillo and after her death in 1833 to Refugio Arguello, the daughter of another influential Spanish Californio family, Bandini carved out an illustrious career as a politician, civic leader, and rancher. He allied his large family with influential American immigrants and welcomed American statehood. His American sons-in-law included Abel Stearns, the wealthy Los Angeles trader and cattle baron, Colonel Cave J. Couts, a prominent San Diego rancher, and Charles Robinson Johnson, a Los Angeles business associate. (8)

Bandini's one-story adobe home was originally U-shaped, with two wings extending away from the plaza parallel to present-day Juan and Calhoun Streets. (9) It featured built-in, adobe-layered cornices and unexposed roof rafters--Spanish Colonial elements usually found only in the designs of California's missions. According to Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo's drawing from memory, (10) the house had eight rooms, (11) a zaguan, a kitchen attached to the wing on Calhoun Street, (12) and two patios in the rear, (13) along with a corral and shed for rigging and harnessing horses. Water was available from two hand-dug wells. The drawing reveals that no exterior doorways opened onto the main streets or plaza, probably because the building stood on a level cobblestone foundation well above the street grade, making access difficult. (14) At the southwest corner directly across from the plaza, archaeologists have uncovered sections of the original foundation. It rises 4 1/2 ft. from the original street grade to the adobe block. The building literally sat on a pedestal dominating the plaza. (15)

Alfred Robinson, the New England shipping agent for the trading agency Bryant, Sturgis & Co., described the stately whitewashed adobe in 1829 as a "mansion," which "when completed [will] surpass any other in the country." (16) Built at the same time as the Estudillo adobe, the Casa de Bandini would take nearly two years to finish. The rooms had 3- to 3 1/2-ft.-thick adobe walls and deep-seated windows with wooden shutters. Cobalt blue floral patterns were painted on the finished lime-painted plaster of some of the interior walls. The ceilings were heavily beamed and covered with muslin to trap insects and dirt. The roof was covered with thatch and later clay tile. Materials such as the tiles, wood beams, and lintels probably were salvaged from the hilltop presidio, already in a state of deterioration. In 1828, Bandini ordered palos colorados (redwood posts) from the American merchant John Cooper in Monterey. The posts, which measured 1/3 vara (II in.) in diameter and 4.5-5 varas (12.5-13.9 ft.) in length, probably were used for the veranda facing the lower patio. (17)

The household maintained rigid hygienic standards, according to Arcadia Bandini Brennan, Juan Bandini's great-granddaughter. One interesting practice carried out by Indian servants was hauling the household's "slops" to the beach, where they were buried in holes and braced or enclosed with logs. The logs were then removed and the human wastes were carried out to sea by sand swept in by the waves. Adobe walls were either painted with lime (whitewash) or plastered with slaked lime mixed with sand because the high acidic (Ph) levels in the lime kept the walls free of fungus and other bacteria. (18)

The front sala (parlor room) was the hub of "social gaiety" in old San Diego. Here, Bandini, a superb dancer, hosted lavish parties, including the weddings of two of his five daughters, Dolores and Ysidora, and met with representatives from the Mexican Republic and the United States. Measuring 33 x 16 ft., the large room was the only one in the house with a wooden (white pine) floor, and it was well worn by years of dancing. Brennan recalled a family tradition of placing "little gold dollars" in painted cascarones (eggshells), which were tossed to the guests by Indian servants during the parties. By the late 1840s, the room sported a huge Yankee clock case, several English fox hunting paintings, a picture of George Washington, and an American flag, according to U.S.A. Major Samuel P. Heintzelman. (19)

Most of the other rooms had compact earthen floors. In her memoir, Brennan noted an interesting household practice as described by her grandaunt. "She told me that ... the floors were fixed by having the ground in each room well swept, then wet down by buckets of water. When dry, green grasses or soft leafy branches were put all over, evenly laid and the beautiful rugs were rolled out." (20)

Alfred Robinson wrote an evocative account of the festivities surrounding the blessing of the newly constructed home on December 28, 1829. The ceremony began at noon, attended by the governor (then in residence in San Diego), presidio officers, family, and friends. A priest from the nearby mission walked from room to room, beginning with the sala, sprinkling holy water on the walls. Guests then sat down to a sumptuous afternoon dinner. That evening, men, women, and children from the entire community, "without waiting for the formality of an invitation," Robinson recalled, crowded into the grand home. In the candlelit sala, a graceful couple performed el jarabe (Mexico's national dance) amid "shouts of approbation": "The female dancer ... cast her eyes to the floor, whilst her hands gracefully held the skirts of her dress, suspending it above the ankle so as to expose to the company the execution of her feet. Her partner ... was under the full speed of locomotion, and rattled away with his feet with wonderful dexterity. His arms were thrown carelessly behind his back, and secured, as they crossed, the points of his serape, that still held its place upon his shoulders. Neither had he doffed his 'sombrero,' but just as he stood when gazing from the crowd, he had placed himself upon the floor." (21)

Bandini envisioned his home as a gathering place for family and friends. He was deeply fond of his daughters Arcadia and Ysidora, who had moved to Los Angeles in 1841 when fourteen-year-old Arcadia married Abel Stearns. Twelve-year-old Ysidora was sent as a companion to her older sister. (22) In 1846, he set about refurbishing the casa and grounds in hopes of tempting them to visit Refugio and him on a more regular basis. He ordered fifty pieces of glass, all 8 x 10 in., for the installation of paned, wood-framed windows. The following year, he replanted the gardens with "pretty flowers," remodeled the lower patio with clay brick, and built a detached wooden bathhouse for the comfort and privacy of his daughters when they visited. "I think they are going to like it very much," he wrote to Stearns. (23)

As time passed and the family grew, more rooms were added to both wings. By the late Mexican period, there were between twelve and fourteen rooms, according to contemporaries. William Kip, California's first Episcopal bishop, who stayed at the casa in January 1854, described it as "built in the Spanish style, around the sides of a quadrangle into which most of the windows open." (24)

To Bandini, a man driven by an exacting sense of duty, caring for the home meant caring for his family. The casa was the pride of the sparsely populated Mexican community, a symbol of the family's patrimony and elite social position. He built it to last, to put down roots. San Diego had become his patria. (25)

In 1831, Bandini helped launch a successful revolt against Governor Manuel Victoria and an abortive uprising in 1836-38 against Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado. (26) Like his father, he saw tremendous potential in a resource-rich Aha California, provided it could free itself from the yoke of political dominance by Monterey and Mexico City. The "great Mexican Federal Republic," he concluded in his Historic, de la Alta California, had deprived Californios of reaping the "advantages and benefits" of their territory. It had failed to promote colonization, to protect citizens against Indian unrest, to support institutions of civil government, and to capitalize on a global hide-and-tallow trade by waiving import duties on foreign goods. "It is California that has suffered the most from the misfortunes that afflict us," he wrote his close friend Mariano Vallejo in 1836. (27)

Prior to the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-48), Bandini had coordinated the sale and shipment of provisions to the U.S. military by boat through the American consul Thomas Larkin of Monterey. (28) Ongoing business dealings with American traders, especially his ranching activities with his son-in-law and business partner Abel Stearns and son-in-law Cave J. touts, had convinced him that California's future lay with the United States, not Mexico. (29)

During the war, Bandini forged close relations with U.S. military officers stationed in San Diego, including Commander Samuel F. Dupont, Lt. Colonel John C. Fremont of the California Battalion, and later Commodore Robert F. Stockton, who had arrived in San Diego in November 1846 on the frigate USS Congress. Stockton's mission was to fortify and garrison the pueblo and thereby protect U.S. access to the bay, the only real harbor south of San Francisco, and Bandini's home became his headquarters. "Don Juan Bandini and family received the Commodore elegantly at their mansion and entertained him sumptuously," recalled the jurist Benjamin Hayes. (30)

San Diego remained an armed camp, its residents uneasy in the wake of continued skirmishes and cattle rustling. Stockton had fortified the abandoned hilltop presidio with gun emplacements and U.S. dragoons drilled on the plaza, renamed Washington Square. In early December 1846, messengers from General Stephen Watts Kearny's Army of the West arrived at Bandini's home to inform Stockton that hostile forces had surrounded Kearny's troops in the San Pasqual Valley. (31) Stockton sent out a large force to rescue the battered column and escort it back to San Diego. On December 12, a wounded Kearny and his exhausted men arrived at the plaza, greeted by the strains of "Hail, Columbia" from Stockton's band. (32)

After the war, the pueblo became a welcome stopover for thousands of miners en route to the Sierra goldfields. A brisk commerce developed as hotels, restaurants, billiard halls, tobacco shops, and hardware, dry goods, and clothing stores sprang up around the plaza, soon to be named Old Town, to cater to the throngs of male fortune seekers. In 1850, Bandini opened a store in his home. Its profits and loans enabled him to make improvements to the casa and the following year erect a magnificent, two-story, wood-framed lodging house east of the plaza, which he named Gila House. (33)

Bandini's extravagant lifestyle and penchant for entertaining continued. Dona Refugio recalled the Gold Rush as "the reign of prosperity and plenty": "How often did we spend half the night at a tertulia [salon]--till 2 o'clock in the morning--in the most agreeable and distinguished society. Our house would be full of company; thirty or forty persons at a table; it would have to be set twice. A single fiesta might cost a thousand dollars. But, in those days, receipts at my husband's store might pass $18,000 a month." (34)

With his grand home and extravagant ways, Bandini embodied the manners and bearing of a transplanted Spanish aristocrat. In later years and after his death, he was often referred to as a don, the signature title of Old World origins and rank. The American author Richard Henry Dana Jr., who had met Bandini in 1836, described him as "accomplished and proud, and without any office or occupation, to lead the life of most young men of the better families--dissolute and extravagant when the means were at hand.... He had a slight and elegant figure, moved gracefully, and waltzed beautifully, spoke the best of Castilian, with a pleasant and refined voice and accent, and had throughout the bearing of a man of high birth and figure." (35)

However, Bandini's letters to Mariano Vallejo and Abel Stearns during the late Mexican period reveal a far different man--a hardworking rancher beset by chronic illness, periodic hardship, worry over his family and property, and uncertainty about the future of his "native land," California. He frequently asked for assistance unavailable to him in the form of food or medicines, like quinine and castor oil, to relieve his coughing, asthma, and headaches and to treat assorted illnesses afflicting his family and his workers. After a poor harvest in 1836, he wrote Vallejo in the "name of friendship," confessing that he and his family were in "great need." He asked his close friend if he could spare "a little bit of wheat and other things whose use will be adequate to sustain life." Continuing, he explained, "Feeding my family is all I yearn for, since misfortune has reached its utmost, I lose sleep, I work incessantly to obtain sustenance, but oh my friend, even this doesn't suffice, this is an unfortunate time.... I beg you not to miss the opportunity if you can send me something to eat." (36)

William H. Thomes, a crew member of the Admittance who met Bandini in 1843, described him as "prematurely old" with heavy-set eyes, deep wrinkles around the temples, and a decided stoop to his shoulders--an indication that hardship and worry had taken a toll on his health. "This was only five years after Mr. Dana had seen him," noted a surprised Thomes, "and the change must have been great in that short time." (37)

By the summer of 1847, Bandini's initial optimism about American rule had given way to growing disillusionment. He decried the coarseness of American manners, the breakdown of civil order as a result of the Gold Rush, and passage of the U.S. Land Act in 1851 allowing U.S. claimants to challenge the validity of Spanish and Mexican land grants in court. "One sees in the towns nothing but drunkenness, gaming, sloth, and public manhandling of the opposite sex," he despaired in a letter to Abel Stearns. (38)

Forced to abandon several ranchos due to Indian attacks and to defend others in costly court proceedings, Bandini became an outspoken critic of American policies and legal jurisprudence. He condemned the Land Act as a land grab. "We are wronged, reviled and insulted," he wrote in the Southern Californian, a Los Angeles-based Spanish-English newspaper. The law, he correctly noted, required landholders to present evidence in the form of surveys to support their claims rather than disenos (hand-drawn maps), as was the custom under Mexican rule. "The modes of procedure were strange to us, everything was foreign, even our manner of speech," he explained. "Our inheritance is turned to strangers--our houses to aliens." (39)

Once the placer (or surface) gold had run out, the miners stopped coming through San Diego en route to the goldfields, and many businesses, including the Gila House, folded overnight. With no profits from his store, falling cattle prices, and wasteful investments, Bandini mortgaged his family home and other properties in April 1851 to a French gambler, Adolfo Savin, for $12,822.90 to cover the loan plus interest that he owed this creditor. Disaster was only averted when Bandini's son-in-law Charles Johnson, who recently had married Bandini's daughter Dolores, asked Stearns to help. "They are awfully cast down about this affair," he wrote to Stearns the following month. Stearns interceded and repaid Savin's loan and interest in late 1851. (40)

That year, a debt-ridden and disheartened Bandini renounced his U.S. citizenship and returned to Baja California. Expelled for inciting political unrest, he moved back to Old Town by April 1854 and opened a tienda barata (cheap goods store), in the front sala of his casa. The effort failed, however, and by August he had leased part of the house to county treasurer Joseph Reiner, who opened a hardware and dry goods store. (41)

The following year, Bandini attempted unsuccessfully to sell his properties. On August 19, 1859, he transferred ownership of his home and ranchos in Tecate and Guadalupe to Stearns, to whom he owed $32,000. He died less than three months later on November 1, 1859, at Stearns's home in Los Angeles. (42)

Over the next decade, the old mansion, reflecting Old Town's decline, fell into disrepair. By 1860, it was unoccupied, a forgotten epitaph to Bandini's death. In 1862, an earthquake cracked the adobe wails in several rooms and collapsed one of the end walls. Clearly frustrated by his inability to maintain or lease "the old house in San Diego," Stearns wrote to Couts in 1864 that "it would be well to nail up the doors and encharge some one there to look after it." (43)


In 1869, Stearns at last found a buyer in Albert Seeley, a thirty-seven-year-old stage driver from Texas, who bought the ruin for $2,000 in gold coin. A driver since the age of seventeen, the 5 ft. 10 in. ruddy-faced Illinoisan had arrived in Old Town from Los Angeles in 1867 with his English-born wife, Emily, and their children. Shortly afterward, he was awarded a government contract to carry mail and passengers between Los Angeles and San Diego. (44)

Seeley and his partner, Charles Wright, remodeled and refurnished the Franklin House on the south side of the plaza. Their new operation, the U.S. Mail Stage Line, faced multiple difficulties. The mail never arrived on time (three times weekly) due to poor road conditions, especially during winter when rainstorms washed out entire sections of the coastal route to San Juan Capistrano. River crossings were particularly dangerous, and holdups, although infrequent, did occur. (45)

The purchase of Bandini's house and adjoining lots provided Seeley with an opportunity to build the necessary facilities for his stage operation and to house his passengers in what he called a "first-class hotel." With Emily's recent inheritance of $8,000, he hired the contractors Henry F. and Samuel H. Parsons to renovate the deteriorating adobe and add a wood-framed second story and new balcony. (46)

The Cosmopolitan Hotel, or Seeley House as it was nicknamed, was an imposing vernacular-style Greek Revival building. Eight thousand square feet in size, it represented a fusion of nineteenth-century Mexican adobe and American wood-flaming construction techniques.

The siding on the second story was mill-sawn, old-growth redwood clapboard. The first-floor veranda featured turned wooden columns, and the second-story balcony was enclosed with turned baluster railings. The doorways had full-height pilasters, and the windows were framed by large wooden shutters. Bandini's clay tile roof was replaced with a wood-shingled hip roof featuring a wide, level overhang covering the balcony. The lime-plastered adobe walls on the first floor were scored or lined to resemble mortared stone--a common practice employed to beautify commercial buildings. A large sign on the rooftop read Cosmpolitan Hotel. Another sign painted on the first-floor adobe facade next to the entrance read Los Angeles Stage Office. An exterior stairway in the back and an interior stairway from the entrance hallway provided access to the second-story guest rooms. (47) "The new hotel of Mr. A. L. Seeley ... is truly an elegant building," opined the San Diego Union. "Its broad verandahs above and below extending on three sides of the whole building give the place a comfortable southern air." (48)

The Cosmopolitan Hotel opened in September 1869, serving also as a post office and stage office for Seeley's stage line from 1871 to 1887. Advertisements in the San Diego Union billed it as a "first-class hotel" whose "large and commodious hotel" featured "large, well ventilated, and finely furnished" rooms and a well-stocked table and bar boasting "the choicest wines, liquors and cigars." (49)

Contrary to Seeley's self-promotional efforts, the hotel was not a first-class establishment. It did not have gas lighting, plumbing, or private suites. Like many frontier institutions, it was multifunctional, serving as a telegraph and post office, stage depot, and hotel with a bar, billiard room, and barbershop operated by a "gentleman of color." (50)

Except for the corner suite overlooking the plaza, the second-story guest rooms were small, indicating that private space, unlike today, was not a highly valued commodity. The rooms facing the street were about 14 ft. deep x 11 ft. wide, while those overlooking the rear courtyard, occupied by single boarders, were 10 x 11 ft. (51) The rooms probably had window shades or possibly blinds, one or two mahogany bedsteads with straw or woolen mattresses, a washstand, lamp, and a table with bowl, pitcher, and mirror. The large corner room overlooking the plaza featured a red brick fireplace and sliding pocket doors with an oak faux finish. (52)

The Seeley House catered to visitors traveling by stage and to residents of the sparsely settled outlying areas with family and business connections in Old Town. These included Miguel de Pedrorena Jr. of Jamul Valley, whose married sister Isabel lived in Old Town; William J. Gatewood, the recently hired editor of the San Diego Union; and Andrew Cassidy, an Irish-born Soledad Valley rancher and county supervisor. Interestingly, members of Bandini's immediate family--Refugio, daughters Arcadia and Dolores, and sons Jose Maria and Juan Bautista--stayed at the hotel when visiting relatives. Unfortunately, none of them left a written record of what it was like to revisit their former home. (53)

Grander and larger than the upstairs guest rooms, the bar and sitting rooms on opposite sides of the entry hall were the hotel's public show places. The tongue-and-groove Douglas fir floors were stained a deep red-brown finish. Most of the original woodwork, including the redwood-beaded wainscoting, window wells, and trim, has remained intact. The bar itself was probably a front-back bar counter, made of either mahogany or black walnut with recessed panels. (54)

Along with wine, champagne, and assorted liquors, the bar sold its male clientele imported Havana cigars for twenty and twenty-five cents each; fresh lager beer by the glass, bottle, or gallon; all choice brands of liquor; and the "Uncle Toby" brandy-rum punch, five for twenty-five cents. (55) Ice was available, as were "all the newspapers of the day." Although no known record of the bar's furnishings exists, it most likely included an iron safe, a key rack, wall clock, hanging lights with ceiling medallions, armchairs and tables, and such conventional items as ten- and twenty-gallon kegs and spittoons. (56)

Seeley enlarged Bandini's sala into a "spacious sitting room with a fire." Like the bar, it provided a gathering place where female guests and their children, boarders, and visitors could take their meals and relax. By the early 1870s, as Emily and Albert's social standing rose, the large room with the red-brick fireplace's warming glow had evolved into the town's community center. It was the scene of raffles, family reunions, dances, Christmas parties, evening balls, and weddings. (57)

The hotel's upstairs balcony was literally the town's grandstand where guests and locals could observe an array of activities on the plaza--from holiday celebrations and circus performances to mule team races and bullfights. Rufus Porter, the correspondent for the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, left a detailed account of one such bullfight in December 1869: "Last week Old San Diego was in all its ancient and pristine glory--the Plaza fenced in and scores of poor bulls driven round by the Hijos del Pays [Pais, Sons of the Country] on horseback, care having been taken first to saw off the animals' horns.... The saloon, store and hotel-keepers seemed to enjoy the whole thing hugely. American ladies as well as gentlemen being among the lookers-on, from the balcony of the Franklin and Cosmopolitan." (58)

The stage line was the modus operandi for the hotel's existence. By 1871, Seeley had purchased the adjoining lot, rebuilt a large barn to house his coaches and mud wagons, bought the Blackhawk Livery Stable, and put up corral fencing and a windmill for pumping water from a red-brick, lime-mortared well. The windmill, erected in 1870 and designed and built by William I. Tustin of Vallejo, featured wide horizontal blades, a turntable beneath the main shaft, and a self-regulating, 360-degree turning wheel that could shut itself off by turning out of the wind during dangerous high-wind conditions. It represented mechanical technology far ahead of its time. In 1872, Seeley purchased the two remaining block lots, built another Tustin-designed windmill outside the yard, rebuilt or replaced several sheds, and planted eucalyptus trees along Juan Street as a windbreaker. In 1873-74, the improved hotel lot was valued at $2,000. (59)

Seeley's profit margin was based on delivering the U.S. mail, not passengers. By 1871, his Los Angeles-San Diego stage service was running every day except Sundays in order to service the increasing volume of mail. With an overnight stop at San Juan Capistrano, the trip took thirty-five hours and cost ten dollars, plus meals. A year later, it was cut to twenty-three hours. Passengers made the trek in sturdy canvas-roofed Concord coaches, while the mail was hauled in lighter mud wagons. Over the next several years, Seeley and Wright extended their operation into more remote areas where mining and farming were developing. In 1874, they contracted with Wells Fargo and Co. to run coaches to local mountain mines and deliver mail and passengers to the gold-mining town of Julian. Four years later, the U.S. Postmaster General granted Seeley contracts from San Bernardino to Los Angeles, Anaheim to San Diego, and San Diego to Julian. (60)

The great fire of 1872 devastated the historic plaza and without sea or rail connection, the community languished. "Old Town is a heap of adobe ruins with a few scattering habitable dwellings," wrote the historian Hubert Howe Bancroft after a visit to Benjamin Hayes in early 1874. The number of guests at the Cosmopolitan Hotel steadily dropped. As of 1882, it was "without a guest," noted the travel writer William Henry Bishop. (61)

The arrival of the railroad to Los Angeles in 1878 and New San Diego in 1885 signified the end of an era in Old Town. By 1887, Seeley had ceased running stages, except for a local line between San Diego and Ocean Beach. The following year, he sold his hotel and stables to Israel Cohnreich from San Francisco for $15,000 in gold coin. (62)


In the decade that followed, the hotel became a rooming house. In 1896, the English entrepreneurs Edward Akerman and Robert Tuffley leased the building, including Seeley's large barn, from Josephine Newman, who had purchased it from Cohnreich earlier that year. They converted the barn and, a few years later, the downstairs of the hotel into olive-pickling and -packing rooms. Bandini's beloved sala became their office. The Old Mission Olive Works won many national and international awards for their olive products, in part because the building's thick adobe walls provided a cool, year-round "even temperature." The Akerman and Tuffley families, along with a few of their employees and friends, lived in the upstairs guest rooms. (63)

In her memoir of her years growing up in Bandini's casa, Susan Davis Tiffany, a family friend of the Akermans, recalled many of the physical details of the house during the early 1900s. "The Bandini house had neither plumbing nor electricity when I went there [in 1898], but both were installed later.... There was a large fireplace in a big room downstairs which had presumably been the Bandini parlor, and two small grates were in upstairs rooms. None of these supplied adequate warmth and we supplemented them with portable kerosene-burning heaters.... Small kerosene hand lamps were our only lighting." Cooking was performed on a wood-burning iron stove. As in days past, water was kept cool in ollas (earthenware jars). There was no telephone, no gas and no refrigeration. (64)

The house and grounds, however, had been significantly altered since the Cosmopolitan Hotel's heyday. The second-story rooms were divided up and rented out to boarders, including the Tiffany family. Eucalyptus and pepper trees shaded the house and morning glory and honeysuckle vines grew in profusion on the porches. There were also outdoor tennis and croquet courts. The two old wells dating to Bandini's time--one located at the end of a wing and the other in the horse corral--were boarded up. (65)

The Tiffany memoir provides insight into the boarding house experience in early twentieth-century America. The household was multiethnic and multigenerational. Along with Mexican and Indian servants who lived nearby, the residents included the Akermans and Tuffleys; the Altamiranos, an old Californio family related to the Pedrorenas and Estudillos; and Susan, her sister Elizabeth, and their great aunt, Rebecca Davis from North Carolina. The children were the household's bonds. "We grew up together like sisters and brothers," recalled Susan. "There were usually twelve or more regular residents in the house, and sometimes visitors for a short period.... So in the Historic Bandini house were several generations and a variety of national and genealogical lines." (66)

Akerman and Tuffley operated the olive works at the hotel until 1915, when construction of their new plant, a large Mission-style building a block away, was completed. (67) The Casa de Bandini's association with an industry dating to the Franciscan missionaries "seems to remind one of the days 'before the Gringo' came when black-eyed senoritas would sit in the evening thrumming the guitar and gossiping over the last Fandango," noted a San Diego Union reporter in 1902. (68)

Nostalgia, though, did not halt the historic building's deterioration. Photographs from the 1920s show huge chunks of plaster broken off from the adobe walls, railings missing, and a badly rotting porch deck. By 1920, only four boarders--Edward Akerman, his wife Ysabel Altamirano, his sister Ellen, and Robert Tuffley--remained. The following year, the building's assessed value dropped to a mere $300 from $1,250 in 1900. By 1928, it stood vacant, abandoned by the misfortune of time. (69)


On July 21, 1928, Bandini's grandson Cave J. Couts Jr. bought the entire block on which the old hotel stood for $12,500. Two years later, he transformed the dilapidated family home into a hotel and restaurant remodeled in the then-popular Steamboat Revival style. The establishment was called the Miramar Hotel. (70)

The first-floor porch was plastered and trimmed with a balustrade railing of "cast stone," or concrete. Decorative white lath curved screens embellished the tops of the porch and balcony on all sides. The cement stucco walls were painted yellow, the window sashes white, and the porch trim green and brown. The wide, horizontally extended overhang that graced the roof of the Cosmopolitan Hotel was removed. The wooden shingles of the old hotel were replaced with asphalt shingles. Junipers, century plants, and other exotic shrubbery lined the garden beds along Mason and Calhoun Streets. For the first time, the building was equipped with plumbing to provide hot and cold running water for the bathrooms and kitchen and gas lines for modern appliances, such as a three-burner gas-plate range. The electrical system, installed in the century's first decade, was upgraded. (71)


The development of the auto-tourist industry and the public's captivation with the state's Spanish origins had convinced Couts, who envisioned himself as "the last of the dons," to market the hotel as an upscale tourist destination that celebrated a Spanish heritage rich in pageantry and refinement. His decision was influenced by the city's transformation into a tourist Mecca noted for its Mediterranean-like climate and gay festive spirit and by efforts to promote the historic community's Spanish heritage.

In 1908, sugar magnate and investor John D. Spreckels had extended his downtown streetcar line to Old Town and hired local architect Hazel W. Waterman to restore the Casa de Estudillo, by then a ruin, adjacent to the Casa de Bandini. It was restored "as a typical old Spanish California dwelling," she explained, not "as it was originally, nor as it developed thru changes and alterations." Completed in 1910 on the eve of the Panama-California Exposition, the restoration launched one of California's earliest historic tourist attractions and helped engender a mythical fascination with the state's early Spanish heritage. Under showman Tommy Getz's management, the historic adobe was promoted as "Ramona's Marriage Place," attracting a steady stream of sightseers who believed that the chapel in the casa was the real setting of a marriage between the two principal characters in the bestselling 1884 novel, Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson. Couts, who had consulted on the restoration, admittedly dismissed the novel as a "greatly distorted" romance, but as he confessed to Mrs. S. I. Harritt of the Pioneers Society of San Diego, "I certainly would hesitate in doing anything that would detract from 'Ramona's Marriage Place' at Old Town" out of friendship to Getz and appreciation of Spreckels. (72)

Other changes followed. The 37-acre Presidio Park, overlooking Old Town, opened on July 16, 1929, the 160th anniversary of the founding of California's first mission. The park's terraced grassy expanses, groves of trees, and strikingly beautiful white stucco Junipero Serra Museum, with its 70-ft.-high domed tower, recast the historical memory of San Diego's Spanish origins. Its development under civic leader George Marston and completion of the new Pacific Highway spurred Couts and others to reinvent Old Town's historic identity. (73)

Couts's hotel, however, never prospered during the Great Depression and World War II. Few tourists visited. Rent money often was directed back into maintenance. Rooms sometimes were crowded with local transients to reduce expenses, and finding responsible or reliable lessees was an ongoing problem. Mrs. J. W. Fisher, who managed the leasing contracts and took a personal interest in the building, complained in one of her letters to Couts that "poor old men from the county [are] sleeping two, three & four in a room, two in the cantina between the dining room & scullery and all the other rooms similarly filled. Of course that makes it [the casa] not an apartment house, club or rooming house or hotel. It is just a rest home." (74)

In March 1935, Couts leased the building to Margaret Adams Faulconer, who operated the business as a cultural venue under the name Casa de Bandini. The timing seemed opportune. The California Pacific International Exposition would open that summer at San Diego's Balboa Park. Couts hoped to attract visitors from the fair by linking the Casa de Bandini with the cultural traditions of Old Spain as exemplified by his grandfather. (75)

Faulconer ran full-page advertisements in the San Diego Union featuring images of gaily dressed dancers and guitar-strumming caballeros (gentlemen) posing in the courtyard garden. One advertisement proclaimed: "In all California there is no more romantic building than the Casa de Bandini, located in Old Town San Diego. Here, where once the dashing Dons and lovely senoritas recreated the social grace of aristocratic Castille, in this one-time province of Spain, has endured for nearly a century and a quarter the tradition of a great family. Out of the pages of the past onto the stage of the present comes a restored and brilliant Casa de Bandini. In this transition from yesterday to today, nothing of its former charm or beauty has been lost. Much of California's history has centered in this truly magnificent specimen of real California architecture.... It was the home of Don Juan Bandini, noted caballero. Today it is still owned by the Bandini family, in the person of Cave Couts, grandson of Don Juan. On May 25, a few days previous to the opening of the California Pacific International [Exposition], the Casa de Bandini once again will assume its traditional place as the center of California's social gaiety." (76)

During this time, the Casa de Bandini hosted a full repertoire of theatrical, literary, and historical events, including evening historical lectures and slide shows and workshops by the San Diego State Teachers College on "early California plays." The Daughters of the American Revolution and other organizations held dinners and meetings, usually in the old sala, now a dining area. There was even a Spanish costume ball. Theatrical performances often focused on the rich pageantry of events associated with the region's early history. Evening performances of Heart's Desire, a play about the Bandinis set at the casa in 1846 during the U.S.-Mexican War, were staged on the rear patio and balcony, glowing with footlights.

A reviewer characterized "Don Juan Bandini" as "a man of culture and refinement" and observed that "Bandini, his wife Dolores, and his three beautiful daughters, Ysidora, Arcadia and Josefa, were the center of social activities in San Diego." He noted that "each night scores of their friends and acquaintances gathered to dance and enjoy the beauty of the Bandini home and garden." Such plays and the promotional literature of the day helped popularize a legendary Bandini who was celebrated and remembered for his Old World gentility and rank--the "Prince of Hosts," in the words of historian and San Diego Union columnist Winifred Davidson. (77)

Of course, Couts's remodel played upon the refrain of an imagined past. The building was not a "magnificent specimen of real California architecture" but the Cosmopolitan Hotel remodeled in a Steamboat Revival architectural style. The casa's historic adobe walls and other features were concealed beneath cement stucco facades. Balconies and porches that had never existed in Bandini's time were decorated with white vertical lath. (78)

Couts's work crews salvaged and reused nearly everything from Seeley's hotel. They covered the massive adobe walls with chicken wire and then applied a thick lime plaster over them. This not only served as a bonding agent for the stucco, but also insulated the adobe from the stucco, allowing it to breathe and wick away moisture. The hotel's original door and window openings on the second story were boarded up with roof decking. These sections stand out from the redwood clapboard siding, providing a perfect blueprint of the locations and dimensions of the doors and windows of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. In addition, the stucco layered over chicken wire and tarpaper protected the clapboard and square-top iron-cut nails.

With the country then mired in the Great Depression, it was both costly and impractical for contractors to replace existing building materials with goods shipped by boat or train. As a result, the building is a veritable museum of historic fabric, layer upon layer revealing the secrets of lost crafts and building practices. In some areas of construction, such as the brass pipe for the water lines and tongue-and-groove Douglas fir flooring on the second floor, Couts did not scrimp on money.

Nonetheless, there was a concerted effort to reuse existing material. As a result, much of the historic fabric and many architectural features were concealed and preserved on-site. Such firsthand evidence is the single most important source of information about the building's history. Nothing--historic photographs, drawings, written records, or off-site salvaged materials--can replace it. Unknowingly, Bandini's grandson helped save a family historic landmark for future restoration. (79)


In 1945, the proprietors James H. and Nora Cardwell bought the Casa de Bandini from the Couts estate for $25,000. (80) With their financial backing, their son Frank renovated it into an upscale motel in the image of a Spanish Colonial hacienda. The Cardwells hired local architect Lloyd Ruocco, an associate of the noted San Diego architect, Richard Requa, for the redesign. (81)

Undertaken during 1947-50, when the building stood vacant, the renovation was extensive. Prominent Steamboat Revival features such as the lath, railing, and posts were removed. The building assumed a quasi-Spanish Colonial appearance with its stucco columns, decorative wrought-iron trim, rustic wooden posts and railings on the balcony, and ceramic and stone tiles.

Tropical plants such as palms, banana trees, and birds of paradise decorated the courtyard, and succulents bordered a large lawn. City directories listed the property as the Casa de Bandini Hotel under James H. Cardwell's management from 1950 to 1965. Cardwell claimed that the remodel, which included soundproofing the rooms and overhauling the electrical and water systems, cost $100,000. (82)

Cardwell portrayed his hotel as representative of early Old Town's Spanish period even though it had no association with either the historic building or the community. Tourist brochures described the "lavish restoration" as the embodiment of "the charm of the early Spanish atmosphere." Images of costumed dancers and musicians with guitars and Caribbean drums graced many of the pages. (83)


In 1968, the 12.5 acres surrounding the historic plaza became Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. On December 18 of that year, the state of California acquired the Casa de Bandini and other Old Town properties from the Cardwells for $898,176. (84) Over the next decade, the Casa de Bandini stood empty, except for two years, 1974-76, during which it operated as the park's visitor center. In 1978, it was leased to Diane Powers, a talented interior designer who had successfully launched her stylish Bazaar del Mundo in the park's historic Casa de Pico Motor Hotel in 1971. (85)

Over the next two years, Powers altered the rear courtyard and first floor to accommodate indoor and outdoor dining. Decorated with her unique and bright decor, the dining ambiance was more South American, especially Peruvian, than Spanish or Mexican. Powers installed new lighting and doors, timbered false beams, glass panels in wall partitions, and stone and ceramic tiles and regraded and raised the courtyard outdoor dining area around a large fountain. She expanded and upgraded kitchen facilities in the adobe end room of the Calhoun Street wing, adding a food-preparation area and a separate freezer space. Much of the building's facade, especially along Mason Street, was concealed beneath a tangle of tropical shrubbery. (86) The second-story guest rooms were converted into offices and storage spaces. (87)

The state's long-term plan to restore the building to its appearance as the Cosmopolitan Hotel triggered internal divisions and disagreements over the state's preservation standards. Apparently, local staff had allowed Powers to remove portions of historic interior walls in the first-floor dining area, dating to Seeley's or possibly Akerman's time, without the knowledge or approval of the Resource Preservation and Interpretation Division (RPID) of Parks and Recreation. (88)

On May 23, 1979, the issue reached a head when RPID head James p. Tuner sent a memo to Richard A. May, chief of the Development Division, stating that "this project must be stopped immediately" to prevent further "destruction of historic interior walls that are composed of full-dimension timbers, square nails, and other material aspects indicating a 19th-century date." In subsequent correspondence, Tuner and Dr. Knox Mellon, the State Historic Preservation Officer, explained that the removal of historic fabric should be kept to a minimum, or if that was not possible, properly documented, marked, and stored. On June 18, May wrote Tuner that the rear partition wall in the proposed dining area, already altered with a door opening, "will be completely removed." (89)

Historians, archaeologists, and other preservation-minded individuals argued that Powers's remodel of the Casa de Bandini was but another example of a park run amuck by commercialism. State Senator James Mills, who helped spearhead the park's creation, told the state Park and Recreation Commission in 1980 that "Old Town ... has taken on the theme of a shopping center." He accused the state of allowing Powers to take a 150-year-old building "with an unhistoric appearance and make it much more unhistoric than it was before." Writer-historian Richard W. Amero called the Bazaar del Mundo and Casa de Bandini remodels a "garish intrusion into a historic state park" and blamed the Department of Parks and Recreation for allowing it to occur. Others, such as park concessionaire Geoffrey Mogilner, argued that the building should have been restored under the state plan as the Cosmopolitan Hotel rather than remodeled as an exotic contemporary restaurant. (90)

Public sentiment, however, sided with Powers. Under her management, the Casa de Bandini Restaurant became an immediate success and extremely popular with local San Diegans. The San Diego Union described its opening in 1980 as the dawn of a "new era": "Every effort has been made to create the house that thrived 100 years ago. Intricacies of California's history and memorabilia are scattered throughout, as well as the tile and paint artistry of Craftsmen from Mexico and Southern California. Furnishings and statuary of rich wood and brass make every corner a source of charm; woven upholstery and wall hangings, from the looms of Mexico and Guatemala grace every room. Outside the sunny patio surrounds a romantic fountain on the very site of Juan Bandini's original structure. Patrons dine in an environment of lush gardens, colorful umbrellas, shrubbery and trees that closely duplicate the surroundings that Juan Bandini himself enjoyed. An extensive menu incorporates the best of Spanish Mexican and Early California cuisine. A sampling; Especial de San German, Red Snapper, Taco Feast, (and) Crab Enchiladas." (91)

Powers, like Couts and Cardwell before her, promoted the casa's history as a fanciful recreation of a past that had never existed in early San Diego. Over this fifty-year period, the building's historic identity and meaning became a masquerade concealed by imposing stucco columns and walls, wrought iron grillwork, ceramic and stone tiles, and exotic gardens. By the 1980s, it had taken on the appearance of a luxurious quasi-Spanish Colonial hacienda that in no way resembled either Bandini's original home or Seeley's hotel.

Why had this happened? Historic architect Ione Stiegler argues that the alterations were "commercially motivated ... always conducted under the claim of authentic restoration representing California's romantic Spanish past." This raises several questions: Why did Couts, Cardwell, Powers, and so many others embrace what the social reformer and journalist Carey McWilliams has called the "Spanish heritage fantasy?" What explains the nostalgia for an idealized Spanish heritage that seemed to grip southern California in general and San Diego in particular? (92)

San Diego, like much of southern California, was an instant creation that had evolved over several decades into a modern, sophisticated, and progressive city, despite its limited size. Its civic leaders and boosters were aware that its bayside location, warm and health-inducing climate, unspoiled beauty, and Spanish origins made it a unique and inviting place, a harbinger of an urban future designed as much for leisure as for work. This period of cultural transformation was framed by the 1915-16 Panama-California and 1935-36 California Pacific International Expositions. Internationally acclaimed, the fairs showcased the city's prominence and introduced millions to Spanish Colonial architectural styles and the region's identity with a romantic Spanish past. During its 377 days of operation, the second exposition attracted 7.2 million visitors. "The world," remarked board chairman G. Aubrey Davidson, had become "San Diego conscious." (93)

Newcomers and tourists, largely white and middle class, came to San Diego with the expectation of finding what historian Phoebe S. Kropp has called "the Spanish-inspired good life." Developers, entrepreneurs, publicists, architects, artists, and writers promoted this Anglo-American version of the past not only to further commerce and growth, but also to instill a regional identity and pride. As historian Kevin Starr points out, its allure stemmed in part from the fact that it "had behind it the force of history, in that California began as part of the Spanish Empire." (94)

At the heart of the Spanish fantasy in Old Town is the man Juan Bandini. In the words of his grandson Cave J. Couts Jr., he was a "noted caballero" who embodied the grace and elegance of Old Spain. (95) In this remote frontier society, his proud bearing, education, flamboyant dress, and extravagant ways set him apart. He was the epitome of a Spanish don, "the aristocracy of the country," according to Dana. (96) Bandini, in short, became an American invention, a caricature of his real self.

This is the cultural memory enshrined in San Diego's folk annals and traditions. Bandini is remembered, as one writer recently put it, as a "legendary renaissance Californio" who entertained "legions of notables." (97) His home in Old Town likewise has become fused with the memory of him as a don whose life embodied the traditions of Old Spain. Even the building itself, despite multiple uses, alterations, and changes in name, is registered on the California State Historical Landmarks as the Casa de Bandini. (98)


In April 2010, California State Parks completed a three-year, $6.5 million rehabilitation and restoration of the historic landmark, returning it to its appearance as the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Roughly 80 percent of the original fabric and features have been preserved or accurately reconstructed, including the hotel's redwood clapboard siding, turned wooden columns and baluster railings, wood-shingled hip roof, chimneys, tongue-and-groove wainscoting and flooring, and doors, door fenestrations, windows, and trim. In addition, much of the adobe brick, remnants of whitewashed walls, most of the original cobblestone footprint, and hand-hewn lintels dating to Bandini's time were preserved.

This was an unprecedented historic restoration, arguably the most important one currently in the state. Few other buildings rival its scale or size, blending of adobe and wood-flaming construction, association with significant people and events, and retention of historic fabric. (99)

The building is important for another, perhaps more compelling reason: It allows us the opportunity to ask how we should interpret it and those connected to it. As an adobe mason who worked on the building, I am still haunted by what I saw and felt. I remember seeing a fragment of a smooth, white-plaster medallion buried in debris, patches of fading lime paint and plaster on interior walls, and always the long red-brown adobe bricks with their deep X-grooved, Mission-era scratch marks. They are part of a living tradition, but whose tradition? We will never know the answer. Those workers--Indian, Californio, Mexican, immigrant, or American; men, women, or children--are gone, missing from our cultural memory, but their legacy survives in their toil, in what they left behind. (100)


The recently renovated Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego stands once again on the historic plaza, resplendent in its original nineteenth-century glory. It is, as one current observer put it, "a resurrection of the past," when many envisioned the hotel's opening in 1869 as a sign of a new and more prosperous era for the tiny frontier community. This historic landmark--initially the home of Juan Bandini, one of Mexican California's most prominent citizens, and today a hotel, restaurant, and bar--fulfills the long-term goal of many San Diegans to recognize and preserve a part of their cultural and architectural heritage.



In 1856, the artist Henry Miller traveled throughout Alta California along the El Camino Real, from San Francisco to San Diego, sketching cities, towns, missions, and landscapes. "For one view of San Diego," the jurist Benjamin Hayes wrote, "Mr. Miller received the beggarly sum of $10. An artist here cannot make enough to pay his bill at the hotel for four days." Despite this obstacle, Miller completed a sketch illustrating the pueblo, a detail of which shows Juan Bandini's adobe and the adjacent Casa de Estudillo, the pueblo's two largest homes.



California State Parks' Restoration


The three-year renovation of the Cosmopolitan Hotel by California State Parks, with support from local preservation organizations and companies, began in 2007. In this photograph, archaeologists patiently uncover the original cobblestone foundation of the north wing of the Casa de Bandini, which collapsed during an earthquake in 1862 and was never rebuilt. Cobbles were stacked in multiple layers to support the weight of the former adobe brick wall. Measuring as much as 7 ft. in width, the foundation extends outward with a cobble skirt sloping downward beyond the wall in order to deflect water runoff from the roof.



During the Mexican era, Juan Lorenzo Bruno Bandini (18001859) served as secretary to Governor Pro Pico, congressional delegate, assembly member, town council member, customs collector, mayor, and San Gabriel Mission administrator. During the American transition period, he was a San Diego district superior judge and city treasurer. His home, Casa de Bandini, was at the center of San Diego's social and political life during the 1830s-50s. Despite documentation of burdensome financial failures and political disillusionment, it is Bandini's reputation as a wealthy, Spanish-bred gentleman steeped in romantic, cultural, and literary pursuits that remains in the forefront of our cultural memory.



An experienced stage driver, Albert Lewis Seeley (18321898) arrived in 1867 in Old Town, where he operated the U.S. Mail Stage Line between San Diego and Los Angeles from the Franklin House. Two years later, he erected the Cosmopolitan Hotel with money from his wife Emily's inheritance. As his business and investments grew, the fashionable hotel became the town's social hub, noted for its "delightful festivity." Seeley was an effective self-promoter, given to exaggeration and fanfare. In 1874, he purchased "the largest and most splendid stagecoach in San Diego County [and] gave everyone in Old Town a free ride."



"The very best Concord stages run on this line," boasted proprietors Albert Seeley and Charles Wright in an advertisement for their stage line between San Diego and Los Angeles, which departed from the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego. Though billed as mail coaches, the Concord stagecoaches also transported passengers, gold, and currency throughout the western United States. In an interview, Don Luis Serrano, a Seeley stage driver, reflected on the twelve-hour trip on a coach with "tough mustangs, about half-broken .... I drove two years without an accident, due no doubt to the efficacy of prayer."


California State Parks' Restoration


As the cement stucco, chicken wire, and tar paper on the second story were removed--remnants from a 1930s remodel by Bandini's grandson, Cave J. Couts Jr.--workers discovered that the hotel's original door and window opening had been boarded up with roof decking, providing a perfect blueprint of their locations and dimensions. Nearly all of the original mill-sawn redwood clapboard remained intact. To see the knot free, smooth-grained, old-growth redwood is to connect with a forgotten past when Old Town was a struggling, dust-ridden frontier hamlet.



Guests of Albert Seeley's Cosmopolitan Hotel enjoyed a grand view of the plaza's activities--both unique and mundane--from the building's newly constructed second story. The artist of this 1887 drawing, originally printed in Harper's Weekly, preferred to capture the romantic notions of the plaza's Californio past, with caballero, bird, and mission bell singing the virtues of an earlier time.


Among the watercolor sketches of California's adobes by Eva Scott Fenyes (1849-1930)--initiated at the urging of Charles Fletcher Lummis "as a means to record an imperiled landscape"--is this 1907 painting of Juan Bandini's renovated Cosmopolitan Hotel during the Akerman-Tuffley era. Fenyes overlooked the building's worn condition to create an idealized image of the old hotel-adjacent to the Casa de Estudillo--that promoted her romantic vision of the state's Spanish and Mexican heritage.



In the early 1930s, Cave J. Couts Jr. (1856-1943)--the self-described "Last of the Dons" (opposite, inset)--remodeled his grandfather Juan Bandini's former residence in the fashionable Steamboat Revival architectural style. He stuccoed the entire building, covered the roof with asphalt shingles, and embellished the tops of the porch and balcony with white lath screens. Despite adding modern conveniences, Couts publicly associated his new hotel with the cultural traditions of a festive and romantic Spanish past. In later years, he spearheaded efforts to restore the Pala Mission, beautify Old Town's plaza, and repair the County Courthouse. His final project, a plan to create El Pueblito Centro Internacional on the historic community's plaza, never bore fruition.




The image of Spanish dancers illustrating the cover of the official guide to San Diego's California Pacific International Exposition (1935-36) reinforced the city's focus on "its glorious past dedicated to a glorious future." "Here in southern California," wrote exposition President Frank Belcher, "we have a rich heritage from the gracious days of the Spanish dons. Hospitality has always been a keynote in our lives."



Cave J. Couts Jr. promoted the casa's proximity to the enormously popular exposition in Balboa Park--"6 Minutes from the Exposition"--in this tourist brochure. Inviting visitors to "Live as the Dons did," he appealed to the public's fascination with "Old Spain." "Your stay within its walls," he promised potential hotel guests, "will become an exquisite memory." Couts's description of a residence that was "preserved intact as it was in the days of the Dons, and changed only by the addition of all modern conveniences" may have appealed to popular taste for Spanish romance, but it misrepresented his significant changes to the adobe's original architectural elements.



California State Parks' Restoration


In 1930, Cave Couts Jr.'s work crews covered the massive exterior walls of the Casa de Bandini with cement stucco. This photograph documents the surprise discovery by renovation crews of the intact adobe brick on the first floor, with traces of lime paint dating to the Seeley period. The patch of thick lime plaster in the upper corner was applied in 1930. The adobe's walls--some 12 ft. high and 3 1/2 ft. thick--are an enduring testament to the grueling ordeal of nineteenth-century hand labor.



Completed in 1950, Frank and Nora Cardwell's three-year, $100,000 renovation transformed the historic building into a lavish vernacular Spanish Colonial hacienda. The massive stucco columns, wide arcade, decorative wrought-iron fixtures, and stone front steps created a false sense of history and perpetuated old San Diego's association with the then-popular Spanish heritage fantasy.



The author wishes to thank Shelly Kale for reviewing the manuscript and pointing out the important conceptual link between cultural memory and historic preservation; Ellen Sweet, an independent historian, for her extensive research; California State Parks senior interpreter Mary Helmich for comments on the Seeley stage operation; California State Parks archaeologist Nicole Turner for assistance with images; and Nena Reid and Cynthia Hernandez for transcriptions and translations of Spanish-language documents.

Caption sources: Victor Walsh, "The Cosmopolitan: A Resurrection of the Past," Save Our Heritage Organisation Magazine 41, no. 1 (2010); Benjamin Ignatius Hayes, Pioneer Notes from the Diaries of Judge Benjamin Hayes, 1849-1875 (Los Angeles: M. T. Wolcott, 1929); "That Delightful Dance, Seeley's Place a Treasury of Delight Tuesday Night," The Daily World, Sept. 26, 1872; "A. L. Seeley's Personal Story," typescript, n.d., Document Vertical File, San Diego Coast District Library (hereafter cited as SDCDL); James Mills, "Journalistic Remarks on the Los Angeles and Tucson Mails," San Diego Historical Society Quarterly 3, no. 3 (July 1957); "Historical Miscellany," San Diego Historical Society Quarterly 4, no. 1 (Jan. 1958); Virginia Scharff and Carolyn Brucken, "The House of the Three Women: A Family Legacy in the American Southwest," California History 86, no. 4 (September 2009); Ellen L. Sweet, "A Landmark Saved: Couts Preservation Work," Cosmopolitan Chronicle 3, no. 14 (June 12, 2009); California Pacific International Exposition: Official guide, program and souvenir picture book (San Diego, CA: G. R. Wolcott, 1935); Arthur Conan Doyle, The Boscombe Valley Mystery (Strand Magazine, 1891).

(1) A. P. Nasatir and Lionel U. Ridout, "Report to the Mayor and City Council and Historical Site Board on Historical Survey of Old Town Plaza" (typescript, 1967), 11.

(2) They include Save Our Heritage Organization (San Diego), IS Architecture (La Jolla), Heritage Architecture and Planning (San Diego), and ASM Affiliates Inc. (Carlsbad). Soltek Pacific Construction (San Diego) was the general contractor. Funding was provided by the California Cultural and Historic Endowment, California State Parks, and previous concessionaire Delaware North Companies.

(3) The French historian Pierre Nora has argued that memory is attached to places or "sites" that are concrete and physical--such as battlefields, cathedrals, buildings, or burial places that embody tangible notions of the past--as well as nonmaterial--such as spectacles, rituals, and public displays or commemorations that impart an aura of the past. He calls such places of collective significance "sites of memory."' See Steven Hoelscher and Derek H. Alderman, "Memory and Place: Geographies of a Critical Relationship," Social and Cultural Geography 5, no. 3 (Sept. 2004): 347-55; Greg Hise, "Sixty Stories in Search of a City," California History 83, no. 3 (2006): 8-26.

(4) Bill Manson, "Who's Looking Out for These Ladies?" San Diego Reader 39, no. 39 (Sept. 30, 2010): 24-41.

(5) Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California, vol. 2 (San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft & Company, 1885), 708-9; Margaret Gaffey Kilroy, historical and biographical notes regarding Juan Bandini manuscript and typescript (1985), box 1, folder 7, Bandini Family Papers, MSS Coll. 101, Special Collections, Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles (hereafter cited as Bandini Family Papers); Jose Bandini, A Description of California in 1828, trans. Doris Marion Wright (Berkeley, CA: Friends of the Bancroft Library, 1951), vi-vii; Arcadia Bandini Brennan, Arcadian Memories of California, 32 (typescript, 1952), box 1, folder 5, MSS C-D 5206, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. This source is also available at the San Diego History Center, San Diego. The Bancroft collection also contains photographs and additional folders on the family, including copies of the Bandini crest and shield. The crest, entitled Laus Dio Bandini, features two snakes coiled around a cross; the shield, entitled Bandini Giustiniani--Prince of Rome, the double-headed eagle.

(6) Bancroft, History, 2:261, 440, 708; Bandini, A Description of California, vii; Brennan, Arcadian Memories, 12. Sometime after Ysidora's death in 1801, Jose Bandini married Manuela Masuelos y Capaz of Arequipa, Peru, by whom he fathered six children. The fifth child, Manuel Antonio, born on June 13, 1814, became the twenty-fourth archbishop of Lima.

(7) Bancroft, History, 2:546-47. One vara is 33.3 in.

(8) See Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California, vol. 3 (San Francisco: The History Company, 1885), 136, 189, 612, 633; Katherine L. Wagner, "Native of Arica: Requiem for a Don," The Journal of San Diego History 17, no. 2 (Spring 1971): 3-4; H. D. Barrows, "Juan Bandini," Historical Society of Southern California 4 (1899): 243-44; William E. Smythe, History of San Diego, 1542-1908, vol. 1 (San Diego: The History Company, 1908), 164-67; Patricia Baker, "The Bandini Family," The Journal of San Diego History 15, no. 1 (Winter 1969): 26-27; Daily Alta California, Aug. 23, 1849; San Diego Herald, Apr. 22, 1854; Los Angeles Times, Sept. 24, 1944, in Brennan, Arcadian Memories, 63-64.

(9) Bancroft states that Jose Bandini built the house; Bancroft, History, 2:708. It is more likely that it was a joint effort, given the scope of construction, the fact that the older Bandini suffered from gout, and that the house lot was owned by Juan Bandini.

(10) Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, "Plano de la Casa Havitacion de Don Juan Bandini en San Diego," n.d., box 1, folder 211, Alviso Family Papers, MSS C-B 66, Bancroft Library. Vallejo visited the house in 1829, but the date of his drawing, apparently from memory, is unknown. The drawing shows two doorways on opposite sides of the zaguan (entrance hall) facing the side street. Four other doorways opened out onto the inner patios. One interior doorway opened into the sala. See also "Juan Bandini," (typescript, n.d.), Bandini I, Documents Vertical File, Department of Parks and Recreation, San Diego Coast District Library, San Diego (hereafter cited as "Juan Bandini" SDCDL).

(11) One of the rooms facing Calhoun Street had a tabique (thin partition wall) that did not support the weight of the structure.

(12) The kitchen may not have been constructed with ceiling-high adobe walls. ASM Affiliates archaeologists, hired to assist in archaeological excavations, uncovered a brick-lined, sandstone-block drainage system beneath the earthen floor from the rear or upper courtyard that cut across the room emptying onto the Calhoun St. side; Jerry Schaefer, draft report, 2010 (hereafter cited as Schaefer 2010). It most likely dates back to the late 1840s or early 1850s, since the bricks are American. Bandini may have hired a skilled Mormon mason in 1847 to build a brick-lined well on the patio. The drain may have been part of that job. Judging from the ash and charcoal deposits, open hearths were used for cooking.

(13) The traspatio (rear patio) occupied higher ground above the lower patio. ASM Affiliates archaeologists uncovered the cobblestone foundation of an adobe wall dividing the two patios, whose purpose was to reduce sediment runoff onto the lower patio during rainstorms.

(14) The absence of doorways and steps may also indicate that this socially elevated family sought privacy from the din of public activities on the plaza. ASM Affiliates archaeologists uncovered remnants of a cobblestone foundation within the footprint of the original 1829 south wing along Calhoun Street. There is a remnant lintel embedded in the adobe wall. The foundation below the lintel drops more than a foot, suggesting that a doorway may have existed here. The original street grade at this location is about 1 1/2 ft. below the adobe base, making it feasible to build a doorway here. Stephen Van Wormer (ASM Affiliates archaeologist), in discussion with the author, Apr. 25, 2008; Schaefer 2010.

(15) For an informed discussion of the pedestal-type design at the corner and south and west sides of the building, see Nini Minovi, David Felton, and Karen Hildebrand, Historic Structural Investigations at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (Sacramento, CA: Department of Parks and Recreation, Archaeology, History and Museum Division, 2007), 58.

(16) Alfred Robinson, Life in California (Oak land, CA: Biobooks, 1947), 12.

(17) See Ione R. Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report for the Casa de Bandini (La Jolla, CA: Department of Parks and Recreation, 2004), 15, 19-20, 28; Fred A. Tinker, "Casa Bandini: Its Owner and His Days of Intrigue, Joy and Despair," in La Campana de Escuela ... Old School House Historians, ed. Dr. James R. Moriarty, 55 {n.p.: Old Town San Diego, 1974); Brennan, Arcadian Memoirs, 34; Merle Clayton, "The Bandinis: Grandees in an Era of Grandeur," San Diego Magazine 21, no. 6 (Apr. 1969): 155-56; Bandini to John M. Cooper, 7 de Julio de 1828, 7 de Agosto de 5829, 7 de Octubre de 1829, 7 de Noviembre de 1829, 21 de Matzo de 1831, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo Papers, MSS X-X 2 Film, Bancroft Library (hereafter cited as Vallejo Papers).

(18) The practice of removing human wastes and nonburnable trash to the beach helps explain why archaeologists before and during the restoration discovered only a few shallow trash sites on the property dating to Bandini's time. On-site inspections also revealed remnants of lime wash and plaster on the first-floor adobe walls, including an entire section of lime plaster underneath the stairway in the entrance hall leading to the second story when the building operated as the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Lime wash or paint was commonly used in nineteenth-century hospitals because of its hygienic properties. Scott Wolf, Associate Archaeologist, ASM Affiliates, Inc., in correspondence with the author, June 13, 2011; Brennan, Arcadian Memories, 34; Bandini Era Finishes, draft report, n.d., 1-6.

(19) Symthe, History of San Diego, 133; Daily Alta California, Feb. 27 and May 17, 1851; Stiegler et al, Historic Structures, 21; Tinker, "Casa Bandini," 55-57; John S. Griffin, A Doctor Comes to California (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1943), 76; Brennan, Arcadian Memories, 23; Walter Gifford Smith, The Story of San Diego (San Diego: City Printing Co., 1892), 50; William Heath Davis, Seventy-five Years in California, ed. Harold A. Small (San Francisco: John Howell Books, 1967), 215; John L. White, "Founder of Fort Yuma; Excerpts from the Diary of Major Samuel P. Heintzelman, U.S.A., 1849-1852" (master's thesis, University of San Diego, 1975), 14-15.

(20) Brennan, Arcadian Memories, 34-35.

(21) Robinson, Life in California, 33-34; Hubert Howe Bancroft, California Pastoral (San Francisco: The History Company, 1888), 412, 416.

(22) Bandini often mailed presents to his daughters and, in his correspondence to Stearns, frequently sent them unsolicited advice about how to behave. In one letter, he wrote: "I beg you to tell Ysidorita to change the clothes of her brothers, to mend them so they are not raggedy, to arise early and clean her room and the room of her sister, to make the coffee, to sweep early, and to dust, for this exercise is good for the health and is beneficial to the interest and to the good education as well" and Bandini to Stearns, 16 de Septiembre de 1842, box 1, folder 1, Bandini Family Papers. See also Bandini to Stearns, 8 de Diciembre de 1841, SG box 5, Abel Stearns Coll., Huntington Library, San Marino, CA (hereafter cited as Stearns Coll.).

(23) Bandini to Stearns, 29 de Mayo de 1846, Bandini to Stearns, 23 de Junio de 1846, SG box 6, Stearns Coll.

(24) William Ingraham Kip, The Early Days of My Episcopate (New York: T. Whittaker, 1892), 59 (quote).

(25) See Richard L. Kagan, Urban Images of the Hispanic World, 1493-2793 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 129-32.

(26) Bandini was the "leading spirit" of insurrection against Alvarado, despite the fact that he had been appointed administrator of San Gabriel Mission by the governor. On Christmas night in 1838, Alvarado sent troops to Bandini's casa to arrest him. The house was packed with guests, including Pio and Andres Pico, who were watching a performance of the traditional Pastorela in the sala. Bandini was not present and thus escaped arrest. The Picos, who supported the revolt, were taken prisoners. See Smythe, History of San Diego, 164-65.

(27) Juan Bandini, Apuntes Para la Historia de la Alta California Desde el ano de su fundacion en 1769 hasta ano de 1845, 6, 264-84, 283 (quote), MSS C-D, Bancroft Library; Bandini to Mariano G. Vallejo, 21 de Marzo de 1836, Vallejo Papers; "Abel Stearns Correspondence and Legal Papers, 1832-1868," box 2, folder 1, Bandini Family Papers; Bancroft, History, 3:188-89, 200-10, 247, 367, 372-75, 419-20, 478-99, 515-21, 556-66, 613; Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California, vol. 5 (San Francisco: The History Company, 1886), esp. 282-83; Ray Brandes and James Robert Moriarty III, History and Archaeological Report, Master Plan Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (Sacramento, CA: Department of Parks and Recreation Archives, 1974), 315; Baker, "The Bandini Family," 23-24; Tinker, "Casa Bandini," 56-57.

(28) See Bandini to Larkin, 28 de Junio de 1844, no. 127, MSS C-B 38, pt. 1, and Bandini to Larkin, 26 de Febrero de 1845, no. 41, MSS C-B 39, pt. 3, Documents for the History of California, Bancroft Library.

(29) See box 5, folder 18 (Juan Bandini), Joseph Mesmer Papers, MSS Coll. 539, Special Collections, Young Research Library, UCLA; Carolina Lokrautz, "Maria Arcadia Bandini, First Century Families" (typescript, 1962), 6, box 6, California Ephemera Collection, MSS Coll. 200, Special Collections, Young Research Library, UCLA; Cave J. Couts to Abel Stearns, Feb. 8, 1852, box 2, folder 3, Bandini Family Papers.

(30) See John Charles Fr4mont, Memoirs of My Life (New York: Cooper Square Press, 2001), 564; Extracts from Private Journal-Letters of Captain S. F. DuPont, while in command of the Cyane, during the war with Mexico, 1846-1848 (Wilmington, DE: Ferris Bros., 1885), 98; Bancroft, History, 5:326-28, 330, 356, 433; Benjamin Hayes, Emigrant Notes, 456, 459, MSS C-E 62, Bancroft Library; Mark J. Denger, "Historic California Posts, Forts DuPont and Stockton," http://www. html; Bandini to Vallejo, 29 de Enero de 1847, Vallejo Papers; Smith, The Story of San Diego, 89; Baker, "The Bandini Family," 24; Tinker, "Casa Bandini," 58-59.

(31) In one of the few battles fought in California, Kearny's column suffered 31 casualties, including 19 killed, while the Californios under General Andres Pico lost one soldier.

(32) For a general discussion of San Diego during the war, see Smythe, History of San Diego, 200-27; Richard Griswold del Castillo, "The U.S.-Mexican War in San Diego, 1846-1847: Loyalty and Resistance," The Journal of San Diego History 49, no. 1 (2003): 21-41; Hayes, Emigrant Notes, 459.

(33) Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 23-24; Daily Alta California, Jan. 1, 1853; Hayes, Emigrant Notes, 229; "Keen Memory of Angelo Smith, Who Lived in the Day of the Bandinis, Pedrorenas, and Other Noted Spanish Families" (news clipping, San Diego Union), box 68, Old Town History Subject Vertical File, San Diego Historical Center (hereafter cited as Subject Vertical File, SDHC). According to "Letter from San Diego" published in the Daily Alta California, Mar. 28, 1869, Bandini built a balcony to provide seating "for the judges who resided over those taurine tournaments" of not long ago. The balcony was accessible by either a trap door or possibly a stairway. Benjamin Hayes (Emigrant Notes, 319) notes the discovery of the trap door.

(34) Hayes, Emigrant Notes, 591.

(35) Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast (New York: Penguin Books, 1964), 222-23; see also Lokrantz, "Maria Arcadia Bandini," 4.

(36) Hayes, Emigrant Notes, 226; Bandini to Vallejo, 21 de Agosto de 1836, 21 de Marzo de 1836, Vallejo Papers; Bandini to Stearns, 23 de Junio de 1846, SG box 6, Stearns Coll.

(37) William H. Thomes, On Land and Sea: California in Years 1843-1845 (Chicago: Laird & Lee, Publishers, 1892), 257.

(38) Bandini to Steams, 7 de Junio de 1847, SG box 6, Stearns Coll., as quoted in Wagner, "Native of Arica," 5.

(39) "Law Report," Daily Alta California, Oct. 16, 1854; Juan Bandini, "Los titulos de los terrenos en California," Southern Californian, 11 de Abril de 1855; see also Southern Californian, 23 de Mayo de 1855, reprinted in Benjamin Hayes, Scrupbooks, California Notes and Incidents, vol. 4, 488-91, The Bancroft Library.

(40) Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 24-25; Pitt, Decline of the Californios (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1966), III; Charles R. Johnson to Abel Stearns, May 26, 1851, SG box 36, Stearns Coll.; Wagner, "Native of Arica," 5-7.

(41) See business advertisements in the San Diego Herald, Aug. 26, Sept. 16, 1854, Feb. 3, 1855; Brandes and Moriarty, History and Archaeological Report, 320; Henry Miller's 1856 sketch of San Diego in California Mission Sketches by Henry Miller, Bancroft Library.

(42) See sales advertisements in Spanish and English in the San Diego Herald, Dec. 15, 1855. Other property listed in the transfer included 2,000 head of cattle, 300 horses, and 300 sheep of "all classes, ages, and descriptions" in California and Lower California, as well as Rancho Jurupa, the Gila House site (destroyed in an 1858 windstorm), and Bandini's mark and cattle brand. See Wagner, "Native of Arica," 10; Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 26.

(43) Stearns to Cave J. Couts, Nov. 16, 1864, SG box 37, CT 2223, Stearns Coll.; Benjamin Hayes, Notes on California Affairs, 490-93, box 1, folder 9, MSS C-E 81, Bancroft Library. The earthquake also cracked Thomas Whaley's sturdy brick home in several places. Other damaged buildings included the Pico and Wrightington adobes and the Colorado House, a three-story woodframe hotel.

(44) See "Seeley Stable" (brochure), 1, box 68, Subject Vertical File, SDHC; Richard B. Yale, "Albert Lewis Seeley, Stage Line Operator, U.S. Mail Contractor, Innkeeper" (Sacramento: Department of Beaches and Parks, Jan. 1973), 3, 21-23, 34-35, Dick Yale Papers, SDCDL; Barbara Palmer, "Albert Seeley," Old Town Character Studies: Sketches and Sources (San Diego: San Diego Coast District, Department of Parks and Recreation, 2001), n.p., SDCDL. On Seeley's residence, see City of San Diego, Population Manuscript Census Schedule, 1870, and County of San Diego, Tax Assessment List (1873-1874), box 6, item 28, Public Records Coll., SDHC (hereafter cited as Tax Assessment List, SDHC).

(45) Franklin House advertisement, San Diego Union, Oct. 10, 1868; letter to the editor in defense of Seeley, San Diego Union, Apr. 14, 1869; "How The Mails Are Not Carried to San Diego," San Diego Union, Mar. 24, 1869, and "The Mails Again," San Diego Union, Apr. 7, 1869; "Letter from San Diego (From Our Own Correspondent)," San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, June 6 and 15, 1868.

(46) For Seeley's use of inheritance money to build the hotel, see Daniel Cleveland, "Pioneer Tells of Romance of San Diego," San Diego Union, Dec. 13, 1925. American businessmen often converted single-story Mexican adobes into commercial operations by adding wooden second stories. The Exchange Hotel, Franklin House, and American Hotel in Old Town followed this construction pattern.

(47) See William H. Godfrey, Apr. 1872, photographs 15519, 20203-2, 20203-3, 20203-4, and Parker, 1874, photograph OP 16391-38, Photograph Coll., SDHC; Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 30-33; San Diego Union, June 22, 1873.

(48) San Diego Union, Sept. 8, 1869.

(49) See, for example, San Diego Union, Jan. 6, Mar. 3, Oct. 20, and Nov. 17, 1870.

(50) San Diego Union, July 20, 1873 (quote).

(51) These measurements are based on the witness marks of the original rooms and discovery of toe-nosed studs with iron-cut, square-head nails.

(52) In 1930, Cave J. Couts Jr. completely rehabilitated the hotel guest rooms on the second floor, including refinishing them with lath and lime plaster and installing bathrooms in the smaller box-size rooms overlooking the rear courtyard. On-site inspections have uncovered remnants of first-floor ceiling lath and 2" x 3" studs toe nailed to floor plates with iron-cut, square-head nails in several second-story rooms, indicating that Seeley, most likely, had used lath and lime plaster to cover interior walls. On room furnishings, see Inventory of Effects of Franklin House, Old Town, Tyler Curtis & Co. vs. James w. Cullen and Manuel Tortes, 17th District Court, Case 435, October 1870, box 13, file 1, Public Records Coll., SDHC (hereafter cited as Inventory of Effects, SDHC).

(53) See Cosmopolitan Hotel Register, Apr. 21, 1870-July 1, 1887, California State Library, Sacramento (CSL); Ellen L. Sweet, Cosmopolitan Register Names (typescript, Mar. 27, 2008), SDCDL. The latter source provides a list of all registered guests whose names are legible from 1870 to 1874, the dates of their stay, and a brief biographical vignette of each individual. After that year, the names were seldom recorded in the register.

(54) Bruce Coons (historical consultant) in discussion with the author, Aug. 29 and Sept. 9, 2008; Susan L. Buck, Cross-Section Paint Microscopy Report, Cosmopolitan Hotel, San Diego, California, unpublished draft (La Jolla, CA: IS Architecture, 2008), 128-31. An advertisement in the Cosmopolitan Hotel Register refers to a billiard room.

(55) This popular punch was a blend of lemon juice and pulp, sugar, boiling water, brandy, rum, and sometimes porter. See Jerry Thomas, The Bar-Tenders Guide or How to Mix Drinks (New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1887).

(56) San Diego Union, June 9, 1870 (quote), July 20, 1873, Aug. 24, 1876; Inventory of Effects, SDHC.

(57) Buck, Cross-Section Paint Microscopy Report, 104-6; San Diego Union, June 9, 1870 (quote), July 27, 1873, "The Ball at Old Town," Jan. 8 and 25, 1874, July 1, 1874, June 1, 1875; "Christmas Social Patty, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Thursday Evening, Dec. 24, 1874," Invitations, Documents Vertical File, SDHC.

(58) "Letter from San Diego," San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, Dec. 21, 1869. In his opinion, Porter considered the bullfight a spectacle of torment more akin to bull baiting than bull fighting: "When a poor terrorstricken bull could not be made to face any kind of an enemy, not even by fire crackers, the muchachos [boys] would fasten a tin can to his tail and then his gyrations caused immense applause. One would frequently break through the barrier and escape outside in a vain endeavor to fly from his tormenters; but he was speedily captured by the hijos [sons] on horseback, and dragged to the scene of his suffering again."

(59) Richard Pourade, The Glory Years (San Diego: Union-Tribune Publishing Company, 1964), 46-47; Mary A. Helmich and Richard D. Clark, Interpretive Program, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, vol. 2 (Sacramento: Department of Parks and Recreation, 1991), n.p.; Kevin Moore, Historic Information Design Report, Historic Windmill Reconstruction Project, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (Cloverdale, CA: Rock Ridge Windmills, LLC, 2008), esp. 3-4; San Diego Union, June 23, 1870, Jan. 18, 1874; Tax Assessment List (1873-74), 28, SDHC; see also Schiller, 1869, photograph 3861-A and Godfrey, 1872, photograph 80:3286, Photograph Coll., SDHC.

(60) San Diego Union, Mar. 24, 1869, June 23 and July 4, 1874; "Information Sheet Seeley Stable," 3-4, Seeley Documents Vertical File, SDCDL; Yale, "Albert Lewis Seeley," II; James D. Sleeper, "The Best Parts of California as Seen from a Seeley & Wright Stage," Butterfield Express 5, no. 3 (Jan. 1967): 1; San Diego Daily World, Dec. 1, 1871.

(61) Hubert Howe Bancroft, Personal Observations, MSS C-E 113, 19, Bancroft Library; "Who Was Albert Seeley?" (brochure, n.d.), Seeley Documents Vertical File, SDCDL; San Diego Union, Jan. 6, 1876; William Henry Bishop, "Southern California," Harper's New Monthly Magazine 66, no. 391 (Dec. 1882): 62. Bancroft came to Old Town to arrange to buy Hayes's vast collection of scrapbooks, manuscripts, and papers on Southern California--"the most valuable in the state," according to this distinguished historian, with the exception of his own.

(62) Railroad development out of Los Angeles had affected Seeley's business by the late 1870s. The run from San Diego to Los Angeles, for instance, was shortened to San Diego to Anaheim, where the railroad could pick up the mail. It reduced the run from 23 to 17 hours. Winifred Davidson, "Tales of the Old Southwest," San Diego Union, Sept. 24, 1939; "Who Was Albert Seeley?", San Diego Union, May 3, 1887; Abstract of Titles: Old Town, Block 451, Public Records Coll., SDHC.

(63) Susan Davis Tiffany, "Memory Like the Ivy Clings": Reminiscences of One Who Lived in the Bandini House 1898-1911 (unpublished manuscript, 1973), 42-43, 45, 51, SDHC; Los Angeles Times, Dec. 17, 1899; "California Olive Oil," San Diego Union, Apr. 22, 1902; "Medals Received from Two Expositions,"

San Diego Union, Sept. 6, 1902, "Akerman & Tuffley, San Diego Manufacturers Win Gold Medal for Olive Oil," San Diego Union, Oct. 7, 1900; "San Diego Olive Off Gets First Prize at London," San Diego Union, Nov. 22, 1902; Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 34-35.

(64) Tiffany, "Memory Like the Ivy Clings," 11-12.

(65) Ibid., 1-5.

(66) Ibid., 49-50.

(67) Nancy Carol Carter, "San Diego Olives: Origins of a California Industry," The Journal of San Diego History 54, no. 3 (Summer 2008): 150-51; "Akerman & Tuffley to Have Big Modern Pickling and Oil Factory," San Diego Union, Apr. 9, 1911.

(68) "California Olive Oil" (quote).

(69) Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 37-40; Casa de Bandini, 1928, photograph S-442 and Passmore, Jan. 4, 1930, photograph 1136B, Photograph Coll., SDHC.

(70) See Ellen L. Sweet, "A Landmark Saved: Bandini-Couts Family, 1924-1930," Cosmopolitan Chronicle 3, no. 13 (June 5, 2009); deed of title to Cave Couts Jr., July 21, 1928, box 79, folder 10, Cave Johnson Couts Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA (hereafter cited as Couts Papers).

(71) Invoice from Ingle Manufacturing Company, June 25, 1930, box 79, folder 10, Couts Papers; Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 41; William F. Mennell, "Bathrooms," Part II, Cosmopolitan Chronicle 2, no. 17 (Jan. 2, 2009); "Home of Don Juan Bandini," Old Town San Diego, San Diego County, California, Historic American Buildings Surve7, HABS Survey CAL.46 and Index Cal.37-Olto 2-1 (1937), Library of Congress. See also Guy J. Giffen, 1935, photographs 17076 and 17155, Braun Research Library, Autry National Center, Los Angeles, CA.

(72) Phoebe S. Kropp, California Vieja: Culture and Memory in a Modern American Place (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 44; Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 42-43; Victor A. Walsh, "Una Casa del Pueblo--A Town House of Old San Diego," The Journal of San Diego History 50, no. I & 2 (Winter/Spring 2004): 1-16; Hazel W. Waterman, "Restoration of Typical Spanish California Dwelling Known as 'Marriage Place of Ramona,'" 6 (quote), Hazel Waterman Papers, MSS-226, box 1, folder 12, SDHC; "Bandini Home, Old Town," n.d., box 79, folder 13, Couts Papers; Los Angeles Times, June 12, 1932; Cave J. Couts to Mrs. S. I. Harritt, July 24, 1924 (quote), box 45, Couts Papers; Robert G. Wright, Interview with Elaine Sweet (June 17, 1973), 7, SDHC.

(73) Gregg P. Hennessey, "Creating a Monument, Re-Creating History: Junipero Serra Museum and Presidio Park," The Journal of San Diego History 45, no. 3 (Summer 1999): 136-65; George W. Marston, "History of San Diego City Parks, 1936," 11-13, George W. Marston Papers, MSS-35, box 2, folder 37, item 3b, SDHC; Victor A. Walsh, "A History of the Old Town Plaza," (unpublished typescript, 2006), 4, SDCDL.

(74) Winifred Davidson (San Diego Historical Society) to Couts, Nov. 14, 1934, box 46, folder 2, Faulconer to Couts, July 18, 1935, box 79, folder 11, Mrs. Fisher to Couts, Apr. 8, 1940, box 79, folder 13, Couts Papers.

(75) The exposition's popularity further convinced long-time civic leader George Marston, along with Richard Requa, the fair's chief architect, that the historic community could be turned around by focusing on its Spanish heritage. In 1937, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce hired the architect to design the area around the plaza into a popular Mexican Mart, modeled after Los Angeles's then popular Olvera Street. The first step in Marston's revitalization effort was the Casa de Pico Motor Hotel, an upscale Spanish Colonial auto court that opened in 1940 on Calhoun Street. Unlike Olvera Street, Old Town, Requa argued, should be set aside as an historic district without modern buildings interspersed among historic ones. His plan did not materialize due, in part, to his unexpected death in 1941. See "Mexican Village Plan Outlined to Chamber Chiefs," San Diego Union, Nov. 13, 1936; "Requa Outlines Plan to Create Old Mexico Town," San Diego Union, Feb. 19, 1937; "Mexican Mart Plan at Old Town Is Explained," San Diego Union, Feb. 26, 1937; Mary Taschner, Richard Requa: Southern California Architect, 1881-1941 (master's thesis, University of San Diego, 1982), 164-69.

(76) "Lease between Cave J. Couts, Lesser and Margaret Adams Faulconer, Lessee," box 79, folder 11, Couts Papers; "The Casa de Bandini, Social Center of Old California, Restored to Former Brilliance," San Diego Union, Apr. 28, 1935 (quote) .

(77) "Where Flag Was Made Setting of D.A.R. Event," "Historic Casa To Be Scene of Lecture; Show," "College to Offer Early California Play Course," "Bandini Home in Old San Diego Scene of Stirring Drama of City's Early History, Back in Year 1846," "Long Ago in San Diego, Don Juan Was Prince of Hosts" (news clippings, 1930s), San Diego Union and San Diego Tribune, Old Town, Casa de Bandini, box 67, Subject Vertical File, SDHC.

(78) Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 45.

(79) For a discussion of the Cosmopolitan Hotel restoration, see Minovi et al, Historic Structural Investigations at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, esp. 10-16, 57; Victor A. Walsh, "The Art of Historic Detection," Parts I and II, Cosmopolitan Chronicle 1, no. 5 (Apr. 11, 2008), no. 6 (Apr. 18, 2008) and "The Challenge of Historic Preservation," no. 8 (May 2, 2008).

(80) Couts died in July 1943.

(81) Requa passed away in June 1941 and thus played no role in the design.

(82) Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 48, 50, "Historic Residence at Old Town to Be Remodeled Soon," San Diego Tribune Sun, June 20, 1945; "Casa de Bandini," Old San Diego (San Diego: San Diego County Historical Days, 1950), 10, Old Town Documents Vertical File, SDCDL; Casa de Bandini Motel, circa 1955, photographs 1742 and 12423-1355, Old Town Buildings, box 128, Photograph Coll., SDHC; Casa de Bandini, ca. 1960, photograph OTSD-46 and ca. 1968, photograph OTSD-7, Photograph Coll, SDCDL.

(83) Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 49; "Casa de Bandini," Old Town San Diego, 10; Mary Lloyd, Saludos Amigos: The Birth. place of California (Potrero, CA: Mary Lloyd, 1950), 24.

(84) Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 55; Architectural Survey and Report, Bandini House (June 15, 1971), 4, Department of Parks and Recreation, Unit File Archives, Northern Service Center (NCS), Sacramento, CA.

(85) "Diane and Bob Powers," Los Angeles Times, June 22, 1980; Betty Quale, Interview with Diane Powers (July 29, 1993), esp. 11-13, SDHC. According to Powers, "the real inspiration" for the creation of the bazaar was her visit to the Bazaar Sabado outside of Mexico City.

(86) Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 55-56; Bandini House Development Plan, Apr. 26, 1979, sheet 1, Department of Parks and Recreation, San Diego Coast District.

(87) Wall alterations consisted of blocking up interconnecting doorways between Couts's bathrooms and guest rooms; Bandini House Development Plan, sheet 2.

(88) In the 1880s, round or wire iron nails were beginning to be used instead of square-head, iron-cut naris in the construction trade in the United States. By 1898, when Akerman converted the old hotel into a boardinghouse, round iron naris were widely used, but given Old Town's dismal economic situation and the condition of the building, Akerman's work crews may have also reused iron-cut nails from Seeley's time.

(89) Kenneth W. McClellan (Development Division, Department of Parks and Recreation) to Alice A. Huffman (Deputy Director, DPR), May 29, 1980; James P. Tryner (Resource Preservation and Interpretation Division, DPR) to Richard May (Development Division, DPR) May 23, 1979; Tryner and Dr. Knox Mellon (State Historic Preservation Officer) to John H. Knight (Associate Director of Operations, DPR) June 1, 1979; Mellon to Knight, June 5, 1979; May to Tryner, June 18, 1979, NSC.

(90) George Frank, "Business Blamed for 'Historic Lie' in Old Town Park," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 13, 1980 (quote); Robert Montemayor, "New History for Old Town Park, Rebuilding of Historic Homes Favored," Los Angeles Times, Apr. II, 1981; Richard C. Paddock, "The Saga of Diane Powers and Her Old Town Bonanza," Los Angeles Times, June 21, 1981; Richard W. Amero, "Old Town Buff Yearns for Fidelity," San Diego Evening Tribune, Mar. 19, 1981 (quote). See also Harriet Kimbro, "Bazaar del Mundo--Old Town Cinderella or Her Pumpkin," unpublished paper delivered at the 17th Annual Institute of History, San Diego (1985), SDHC.

(91) San Diego Union, May 25, 1980, as quoted in Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 55.

(92) Stiegler et al, Historic Structures Report, 45; Carey McWilliams, Southern California Country: An Island on the Land (New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1946), 70-83; Victor A. Walsh, "Stop the Old Town Myths," Voice of San Diego, Dec. 27, 2005; Matthew F. Bokovoy, The San Diego World Fairs and Southwestern Memory, 1880-1940 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005), xvi-xx.

(93) See Uldis Ports, "Geraniums vs. Smoke stacks, San Diego's Mayoralty Campaign of 1917," The Journal of San Diego History 21, no. 3 (Summer 1975): 51-56; Kropp, California Vieja, asp. 103-32; Roger M. Showley, Perfecting Paradise (Carlsbad, CA: Heritage Media Corp., 1999), 80-87; Bokovoy, The San Diego World Fairs and Southwestern Memory, esp. xvi-xvii, 50-55, 80-86, 114, 141-64; Richard W. Amero, "The Making of the Panama-California Exposition, 1909-1915," The Journal of San Diego History 36, no. 1 (Winter 1990): 1-47; David Marshall and Iris Engstrand, "San Diego's 1935-1936 Exposition, A Pictorial Essay," The Journal of San Diego History 55, no. 4 (Fall 2009): 177-90; Richard S. Requa, Inside Lights on the Buildings of San Diego's Exposition, 1935 (San Diego: n.p., 1937), 5 (quote).

(94) Kropp, California Vieja, 261-69; Kevin Start, Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915 (Santa Barbara/Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1981), 390, 396-97.

(95) "The Casa de Bandini," San Diego Union, Apr. 28, 1935.

(96) Dana, Two Years Before the Mast, 222.

(97) Vonn Marie May, "Old Town: Whose History Is It Anyway?" Voice of San Diego, Nov. 28, 2005.

(98) It was listed on Dec. 6, 1932. The text reads: "This adobe house was constructed about 1827 by Jose and Juan Bandini. As headquarters of Commodore Robert F. Stockton in 1846, it was the place where Kit Carson and Edward Beale delivered their urgent message of December 9, 1846, calling for reinforcements to be rushed to the aid of General Kearny." See California Historical Resources, Office of Historic Preservation, State of California; http://www. asp?num=72.

(99) See Victor A. Walsh, "The Cosmopolitan Hotel: A Resurrection of the Past," Save Our Heritage Organisation Magazine 41, no. 1 (2010): 2-11. See also Minovi et al, Historic Structure Investigations at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, asp. 10-16, 102-5. As of May 1, 2011, this restoration project has won California State Parks and Recreation's William Penn Mott Award (2010), Old Town Chamber of Commerce's Certificate of Excellence (2010), Save Our Heritage Organisation's People in Preservation Award (2010), and the City of San Diego's Excellence in Historic Preservation Award (2011).

(100) Except for the jehus (stage drivers), virtually nothing was found in the historic record about servants and other workers at the Casa de Bandini and Cosmopolitan Hotel, not even references to their names.

VICTOR A. WALSH is a historian and adobe conservator with the San Diego Coast District of California State Parks. He earned a Ph.D. in American history, with a focus on nineteenth-century ethnicity and race, from the University of Pittsburgh in 1984 and taught as a lecturer at San Francisco State University, the University of San Francisco, and College of San Mateo. In 1991, he won the Carlton C. Qualey Award for his article on Irish drinking customs (published in the Journal of American Ethnic History), followed in 2004 by the Institute of History Preservation Award for his article on the Casa de Estudillo of Old Town San Diego (published in The Journal of San Diego History). In 2008, he published an article in California History on Torrey Pines State Reserve, another one of his parks.
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Title Annotation:San Diego, California
Author:Walsh, Victor A.
Publication:California History
Article Type:Cover story
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Sep 1, 2011
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