U. S. Grant Hotel

U. S. Grant Hotel 1915 from SDHS

Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., came to San Diego in 1893 seeking a climate that would improve the failing health of his wife, Fannie Josephine Chaffee Grant. He had made and lost a fortune on Wall street with his father, the former Civil War general and President of the United States, but his father had died in 1885 and the son looked to San Diego for his future. He purchased the original Horton House hotel in downtown San Diego that was built by Alonzo Horton in 1870, kept it operating for several years with his father's photograph in the lobby, but finally decided to tear it down and build a grand new hotel on the same site at Third and Broadway. On July 12, 1905, the first bricks were removed from the old structure by 91-year old Alonzo Horton. Architect Harrison Allbright designed the new hotel but construction was delayed by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and a shortage of lumber. It was finally completed in 1910, the same year Irving Gill finished his renovation of Horton Plaza across the street with a new fountain. On opening day October 15, 1910, the hotel offered 437 rooms, many with private bathrooms, and a striking interior of marble and walnut that featured a great staircase leading upstairs to the Grand Ballroom accommodating 500 people. It also included a roof garden, a palm tree court, and a soon-to-be famous grill.

U. S. Grant Hotel 2004
Sadly, Grant's wife Fannie had died in 1909, but Ulysses Grant, Jr. continued to live in San Diego with his five children in the Havermale mansion on Prospect Hill at Eighth and Ash Streets. This mansion was torn down and replaced with the El Cortez Hotel in 1927. After Grant's death in 1929, the Hotel continued to operate and was listed in 1979 on the National Register of Historic Sites. The Grant Grill has long been rated as one of San Diego's best restaurants, and made headlines in 1969 when a women's protest caused the Grill to start admitting women before 3 pm.

Map by L. L. Locking 1867
Horton House hotel 1870
Union newspaper Jan. 1, 1909


revised 9/23/04 by Schoenherr | USD History Faculty at the Grant 11/15/03 | Local History