133 San Ysidro Blvd. — San Ysidro Hotel
This two story building is the oldest extant structure in San Ysidro, and as such, is perhaps the most significant building within the neighborhood.
From 1909 to the present, the building has served as a hotel; housing at first prospective settlers of the Little Landers community and the growing tourist market.
Prior to 1909, it was the private home of George Belcher family; owners of the property from 1901-1909. B
Between 1874 and 1901 this area was owned by L. Judkins (1901), Stern/Bowman (1888), J. Quinn (1887), W.B. Spence (1882), Dranga (1882) and J. Platt (1874).
Although no mention of an existing structure is mentioned on any of the earlier deeds and no buildings are shown on early maps, there exists the possibility that the house predates the 1901 Belcher purchase of the acreage. The building may have originally been associated with the 1888 settlement of Tia Juana, a community of at least 21 buildings promoted by the real estate firm of Hart and Stern. Although the town of Tia Juana, destroyed in the flood of 1891, was located further south than the Little Landers Subdivision, local homesteads are noted as occurring along the railroad line that passed directly in front of this building.
By 1907, there was a concentrated effort to bring people to Southern California, resulting in thousands of tourists and colonists taking advantage of low fares into the area. The promoters of the Little Landers Colony #1 selected the Belcher farmstead as the site of their development.
An “ideal location had been selected at the site of the old Belcher Ranch in Tia Juana River Valley where fertile soil was combined with ample sources of water and proximity to the city.” At the time only two families were living on the tract. “The old ranch adobe was converted to headquarters and the Belcher homestead became the San Ysidro Inn. Five floored tents were erected to serve as dormitories while homes were built.” During the early teens, J. Thomas and M. Dalley served as the hotel keepers for the Little Landers Corporation. By the 1920s, C.A. Schultz had taken over the hotel.
Like other reformers of the era, the Little Landers founders sought to meld what was perceived as the best qualities of town and country into their new community. The Belcher home was a typical rural vernacular building. “The traditional American farmhouse represents plenty, simplicity, virtue, and beauty; qualities some reformers suddenly found lacking in the homes of urban dwellers.” Converting the home into an inn did not alter this visual effect. To the prospective colonists arriving by train, the building maintained its rural character, reflecting a traditional value system, the re-establishment of pre-industrial values.
“Pioneer and farm families had long built symmetrical, white painted houses as soon as circumstances permitted. Such houses announced the triumph of humanity over forest and prairie wilderness… the attachment to such stand-out buildings survived long after the pioneers…”
Pictorial evidence of the structure suggests that although the exterior is deteriorated and in need of immediate care, the facade of the Hotel has changed little since 1909. The only known historic photograph shows the building alone, facing the railroad tracks. The structure represents San Ysidro’s rural past; over time, infilling as occurred has the commercial strip of San Ysidro Boulevard developed in response to the growing population of the town.
Cited From: San Ysidro Historic Resources Survey, Conducted for: City of San Diego Planning Department, Conducted by: Roth and Associates, Linda Roth & Judy Berryman, 14 August 1989.
(Thanks goes to Michael Freedman for lending me the survey.)