Restoring One of California’s Most Historic Elevators
After serving generations of travelers, California’s famed Hotel del Coronado is undergoing a major restoration and renovation project, ensuring the ability to welcome guests for generations to come.
In addition to the restoration of the hotel’s once glorious front porch and lobby, the master-planned renovation will include the preservation of buildings dating to the late 1800s.
The front porch of the hotel has greeted celebrities, discerning travelers, and vacationing families for generations. The list of famous people who have graced the iconic porch and lobby area is a glimpse into history.
“Just trying to imagine all the people who ever walked across this porch, lingered in this lobby, and rode up this elevator, is amazing,” said Bill Schassberger, on a recent tour of the project. “You’re talking Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mae West, Marilyn Monroe…presidents … politicians…and regular families here on summer vacation.”
The front porch, complete with its original second set of stairs, and lobby, with its historic oak wood columns and ceilings, are being restored to their original grandeur – and also modernized for posterity. The wood beams will be carefully reinforced with steel beams to provide structural safety while preserving the original aesthetic. “These are the first impressions guests will see,” Schassberger muses. “It’s important that we do justice to the historical significance of this beautiful property.”
Bill is part of the team responsible for the restoration and modernization of the hotel’s main lobby elevator, an ornate, “birdcage” elevator that was hand-operated up until restoration work started in December of 2020. (Check out this backstory on Hotel Del’s legendary elevator operator, Andrew Lounsbury.)
Like all aspects of the massive restoration and upgrade project at Hotel del Coronado, the elevator renovation involves a careful combination of meticulous craftsmanship (making sure the elevator aesthetics are true to the original), and new technology (making sure the elevator is fully modernized for future guests). It’s a challenge Bill’s team at 24 Hour Elevator in San Diego is handling, armed with tons of research, knowledge, and experience.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have been chosen for this project,” says Schassberger, a long-time fixture of the San Diego elevator industry. “We have been involved in hundreds of elevator modernizations and dozens of historical preservation projects over the years, but this one is very special.”
In preparing to restore and modernize the “beautiful antique” elevator located in the main lobby, Bill and the 24 Hour Elevator team completed multiple site visits, reviewed years’ worth of elevator maintenance records, studied photos of the original elevator’s appearance, and carefully devised a plan to modernize and renovate the equipment and cab. All components of the original system have been inspected, cleaned, refurbished, repaired, or where necessary, replaced or upgraded. “Some of the original wood surfaces have been replaced by steel panels that have been meticulously hand-painted to match the original wood,” Schassberger points out. A work-in progress, the elevator restoration will be completed in the summer of 2021.
Modernizing with Meaning
Elevator modernization is a unique aspect of building renovation that serves a variety of purposes: first and foremost, to ensure safe and reliable vertical transportation. When completed, the Hotel del Coronado’s elevator modernization project will save energy through more efficient operation and ensure compliance with federal ADA laws and local seismic and fire codes.
“Here in San Diego, we have a diverse set of machinery at work in our buildings today, with some dating back to early 1900s – or in the case of Hotel del Coronado, the late 1880s. Each one of these machines is unique, and they really were built to last,” says Schassberger. “We provide many ways to update the function and aesthetics of these historic elevators, while maintaining the machine’s quality of character that is already present.”
For the team at 24 Hour Elevator, it’s a source of pride to be chosen for such a historically significant project.
“Everyone involved in the Hotel del Coronado restoration has been fantastic to work with, and all of the teams involved are amazing in terms of architectural design, engineering, and craft skills, says Ken Dixon, General Manager of 24 Hour Elevator. “It’s special for all of us to be part of this important project, and to preserve this historic hotel for generations to come.”
About Hotel del Coronado
Set on one of America’s most iconic beaches, the legendary Hotel del Coronado and Beach Village at The Del have welcomed discerning travelers for more than 133 years to experience the Southern California coastal lifestyle at its best. Here, the magic and nostalgia of the property’s storied past blend seamlessly with contemporary luxury, where a new vision for The Del is coming to life. Hotel del Coronado offers five distinct neighborhood experiences, including Shore House at The Del, the hotel’s newly announced residential-style villas, which complement the luxurious Beach Village; The Cabanas, where refined coastal design complements the newly refreshed pool, serving as the social center of the hotel; The Victorian neighborhood, where guests find stunning Victorian architecture and experiences to match, and The Views, the hotel’s soon-to-be home-base for coastal adventure experiences and activities. Known for creating memories that last a lifetime, with an award-wining spa, iconic oceanfront dining and unparalleled location, the world-renowned Hotel del Coronado seamlessly connects her storied past with the future of hospitality. For more information please visit www.hoteldel.com.
About 24 Hour Elevator
24 Hour Elevator, Inc., is part of the Specialized Elevator Services company – a group of independent, local elevator companies dedicated to providing outstanding service. As an independently operated elevator contractor, 24 Hour Elevator offers outstanding elevator service, repair, and modernization for most makes and models of elevator equipment, serving customers throughout the San Diego area with a commitment to delivering the best customer experience. Visit 24hourelevator.com.