San Diego’s Historic Lafayette Hotel Turns 70

San Diego’s cool vintage hotel, The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows (2223 El Cajon Blvd.), is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The North Park landmark rang in the milestone with a party Friday night.

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The Lafayette Hotel
San Diego’s cool vintage hotel, The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows (2223 El Cajon Blvd.), is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The North Park landmark rang in the milestone with a party Friday night.
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The Lafayette Hotel
The bash featured three areas: “The City Within a City,” a throwback to the days when the hotel included more than 20 different shops, stores and services; “Home Away From Home,” a cocktail lounge with a 1950s-themed USO show; “The Soda Jerk,” an old school soda fountain and diner offering treats from the past.
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The Lafayette Hotel
The 70th anniversary celebration also included live music (a Beatles tribute band and more), and the closing of a time capsule meant to be opened in 30 years – on The Lafayette’s 100th anniversary. Attendees were encouraged to bring a small item to place inside the time capsule and to dress in retro attire from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
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The Lafayette Hotel
Built in grand colonial style by Larry Imig, the Lafayette opened in 1946 as a Hollywood escape for celebrities. From the 1940s through 1950s, the property spanned 2.5 acres and boasted 24 shops, four restaurants, a nightclub, 250 guest rooms, suites, and apartments. Way back when, the hotel was a legacy vacation resort and hideaway to glamorous Hollywood stars like Ava Gardner and Bob Hope.
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The Lafayette Hotel
In the 1950s, hotelier Conrad Hilton bought the Lafayette. He had several parts of the property demolished and relocated. The building’s brick façade was painted, and Imig’s signature from the large terrazzo star in the Conservatory floor was removed.
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The Lafayette Hotel
As the decades passed, the Lafayette saw a shift in both ownership and appearance at the hands of many trying to restore the historic hotel to its former glory. In 2011, a $6 million renovation on the hotel was completed.
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The Lafayette Hotel
Today, the hotel hosts a long lineup of poolside events at its famed Weissmuller Pool, which was designed by former Tarzan and five-time gold medal winner Johnny Weissmuller in 1946. San Diego native Florence Chadwick trained at the pool in the 1940s for her then record-breaking swim across the English Channel.
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The Lafayette Hotel
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