Western Trips

Western Trips

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Oldest Building in San Diego / The Cosmopolitan Hotel

The Cosmopolitan Hotel in historic Old Town San Diego is believed to be the oldest building in San Diego, CA. Today, the Cosmopolitan is a piece of history and a hotel with vintage luxury ambiance within the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.California State Parks owns and operates a number of original and reconstructed buildings as part of Old Town State Historic Park.

Cosmopolitan Hotel
Stay and Dine at the Cosmopolitan

Old Town recreates the setting of California life during the Mexican and early American periods, 1821-1872. This is where San Diego began. If you're looking for an historic and unique hotel, the Cosmopolitan Hotel is it. The structure received a three year renovation in 2010.

 The Cosmopolitan features a full-service restaurant and bar, open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. The hotel is also a ten room B&B. All rooms are beautifully furnished with 1870's antiques and have private baths.

The History of San Diego's Earliest Building

What is today the Cosmopolitan Hotel was once a one story adobe structure and home to Don A. Bandini built during the early 1800's.Bandini arrived in California from Peru with his father who has a ship captain.  The adobe home was at one time headquarters for Commodore Robert F. Stockton in 1846.

In 1869, after the American Civil War, the structure was purchased by Alfred Seeley who operated the Seeley Stables. The building needed a lot of repair. It was Seeley who decided to built a second story in wood frame and opened the building as the Cosmopolitan Hotel. The hotel had a barber shop, a billiards room

Alfred Seeley eventually sold the hotel in 1888. After that time the building served many purposes. This included being a canning facility for olives. The building had become rundown but was purchased by a grandson of Bandini. The grandson renovated the building with new decor and installed modern conveniences such as electricity and gas.

During the 1950's the building operated as an upscale motel. The state of California purchased the property in 1969 when the state historic park was founded.

San Diego's Old Town State Historic Park

As mentioned above, the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park was registered in 1969. Admission to the park is free. There are five original adobe structures in the park including museums, restaurants and shops.

The site of Old Town San Diego was the center of town into the 1860's. The center of town started to switch to the site of present downtown San Diego. This new site was promoted by Alonzo Horton who pointed out his sites close proximity to the harbor area. Straight west of the present day downtown area is the Embarcadero with restaurants, shops and floating museums such as the USS Midway aircraft carrier.

old town san diego dining
Dining room
 You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below...

Visit the San Diego Automobile Museum in Balboa Park

Hiking in California's Joshua Tree National Park

Tour the Historic Menger Hotel / San Antonio, TX 



Our references and excellent books regarding Old Town San Diego State Historic Park includes... Old Town State Historic Park by author Alex Engstrand.....Old Town San Diego 1821-1874 by authors Iris W. and Ray Brandes Engstrand.


Old Town San Diego is often referred to as the birthplace of California. It was the first settlement in Alto California after Father Junipero Serra, traveling from today's Mexico in 1769, founded his mission. Discover Ol also see a working blacksmith shop, enjoy music, see or touch the park's burros, and take part in activities that represent early San Diego. A trips to Old Town makes a great family activity.
old town san diego attractions
Cosmopolitan's outdoor restaurant

Old Town San Diego features a lively, authentic atmosphere that boasts 17 museums and historical sites. San Diego tourist websites offer four tips to help with your visit to Old Town. 
  • Parking in Old Town can be a challenge, but there are a number of paid parking lots and many hotels offer visitor parking.
  • The Old Town Transit Center offers both Trolley and Coaster service for easy access around the county.
  • During Charger Games and morning and evening drive times, traffic in the Mission Valley area can become congested.  
  • Old Town offers seven hotels to choose from all within walking distance from the Trolley. 
The park is located on San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street in San Diego, and is conveniently adjacent to the Old Town Transit Center, with Coaster, Trolley, and MTS Bus service. Also, website www.parks.ca.gov/

San Diego has many fine attractions. Old Town is one of these connecting you to the city's historic past. We know you'll enjoy spending time there.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

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