San Diego

Iconic Don Diego Clock Tower to be Demolished

The Don Diego Clock Tower was built 1953 and opened a year later

An iconic landmark at the Del Mar Fairgrounds will soon be demolished.

The Don Diego Clock Tower was built 1953 and opened a year later, just in time for the Southern California Exposition.

According to the Del Mar Fairgrounds website, the clock tower was based on Don Diego Alvarado known for throwing lavish parties and "regarded as the local symbol of a gracious host."

“I think it was special back then but we certainly didn't have many buildings on the fairgrounds back then, so it really did stand out, much more than it does today,” said Shawn Feisst, spokesperson for the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

At the time, it was a modern and unique architectural design. The character was even brought to life by actor Tom Hernandez, who portrayed Don Diego during the annual fair for 37 years.

In 1985, a 16-foot statue of Hernandez as Don Diego was unveiled at the main entrance to the fairgrounds.

But 63 years later, the tower is falling apart—bathrooms have not been working for more than 10 years and the clock is without any hands.

“It's been around a very long time and its really crumbling, it's really only being held together by termites holding hands at this point,” Feisst said.

The agricultural district, which oversees the Del Mar fairgrounds, made the decision to tear it down.

But there will be an effort to preserve some parts of the tower.

“We're going to replace those, someplace else on the fairgrounds and the clock as well, so we hope we can retain some of that,” Feisst told NBC 7.

There is no set date from the demolition but it's expected to be taken down before the fair in June, 2017.

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