In downtown San Diego at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Ash Street you’ll find a very mysterious building. At first glance it appears to be a Gothic manor, or the corner of an impenetrable stone castle. Stranger still, a small shield on the building’s exterior includes the word GAS. Is this the castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, from which gas is expelled in your general direction? No–it’s a power substation of San Diego Gas and Electric!
The secure little building was designed by prominent architect Richard Requa in 1922, who would go on to become Master Architect for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.
My imagination is always electrified when I walk past this unusual sight. Is a Frankenstein monster being assembled behind those dark walls?
Here are some photos!
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The 2015 Sun and Sea Festival at Imperial Beach today had almost everything. Lots of good food, live music, happy people, the beautiful ocean, and, of course, a whole bunch of awesome sand sculptures. What it didn’t have was sun. Monsoon conditions in San Diego have produced dark skies, frequent showers, even thunder and lightning this weekend.
But nothing could stop the crowds from enjoying this great annual tradition.
My walks through downtown often take me past a large, dilapidated building with a giant faded castle painted on its side. This now sad sight was once the splendid Hotel Churchill, the destination of tourists visiting San Diego a hundred years ago.
The Hotel Churchill was built to accommodate visitors to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in nearby Balboa Park. The Arthurian theme made visitors feel like they’d entered Camelot, much like the Excalibur Hotel does in Las Vegas today. The building has been abandoned for many years. I remember watching the San Diego Fire Department using the tall edifice for practice, breaking through one window from the top of a firetruck’s ladder.
In 2003 the city designated the Hotel Churchill a local historical landmark. There are plans afoot to restore the old building and convert it into affordable housing.
Here’s a pic I took in February 2015. The old hotel has been fenced off, awaiting restoration…
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