The Daneri Block/Lincoln Hotel
536 Fifth Avenue
Architectural Style: Victorian with Elements of Art Nouveau
Architect: Perley B. Hale
Although the lot on the north half of Horton’s Lot I, Block 95 is very small, its subsequent properties have been very busy and have many tales to tell. As early as 1868, a tin shop was on the property run by Archibald H. Julian. Mr. Julian, and his partner, David Stutsman, purchased the property from Alonzo Horton for $1,000. Fortunately, the partners did well and prospered, as the price for the lot was considered unusually high for such a small piece of land. By 1874, the tin shop had expanded to include hardware, stoves, pumps and kitchen furniture. On this happy note, Stutsman retired, leaving Julian to run the business. An extremely busy fellow, Julian also was elected treasurer of the Hook and Ladder Company, treasurer of the I.O.O.F., delegate to the Republican State Convention and Vice-President of the Citizen’s Railroad Committee.
In October of 1878, a fire on the west side of the block badly damaged the property, but most of the stock and fixtures were saved. At the end of November, Stutsman had had enough, and sold his half of the business and the lot to Julian for $300. Mr. Julian, not to be deterred, immediately built a one-story brick building and celebrated its opening with a grand social. Until 1893, the Pioneer Hardware Store, as the business was now known, was run by Mr. Julian and his sons William, G.A. and Charles. Charles was also known as an excellent marksman, specializing in trap shooting. An accident deprived him of the use of his right hand, but he learned to shoot with his left!
Now that he had help, Julian became a member of the Board of Public Works, and later became the Sewer Inspector. In 1893, he sold the lot to George H. Mansfield. The hardware store was replaced by a wholesale wine and liquor store run by E.P. Raether until 1900, when Mr. Raether passed it on to Albert Euke. Euke called the business the Our Family Wine Store, and remained its proprietor until 1903. In 1903, Mansfield deeded the property to Emmanuel and John Daneri and Guiseppe Mosto for $10. Emmanel Daneri was a local farmer who grew onions and potatoes, in addition to owning a vineyard in Otay. The Daneri brothers operated the Otay Winery and Distillery Depot on the property until 1912.
In 1913, John Daneri apparently felt that the time for expansion had come, and he took out building permits with a contractor, H.C. Sparks, the California Iron Works and the Woodstove Manufacturing Company. It was his intent to build a four-story brick and tile building with forty-eight rooms and a storefront on the first floor. The San Diego Union predicted that the new edifice would be one of the prettiest and most ornate buildings in the business district. The entire front was to be white terra cotta tile with the cornices and window borders of green tile. Each window frame would have an upper stationary sash of art glass in copper, and the balcony doors on each floor were to be finished in art glass. The balcony doors would be bordered in green tile and the balcony railings were to be ornamentally designed with plants and jardinieres. It would also have seven skylights. The construction would be steel frame with brick and tile walls.
The most unique feature of this new building was to be an enclosed fire escape in the front. It was to be inside the front wall with openings into the halls and onto the balconies. An iron stairway would be concealed in a fireproof tile casement extending from the street level to the roof. The rear of the building would have a conventional exterior fire escape. The first floor was to be built around the old building with steel beams in the brick walls and the concrete foundation pillars on all four sides. The entire project was projected to cost about $30,000.
The Otay Wine business continued until 1916, and then became the Otay Winery and Saloon under new proprietors Joseph, Frank, John and Battison Filippi. It remained until 1919. The upper floors were furnished rooms, and beginning in 1916, the address was known as the Lincoln Hotel. Upon the departure of the Filippis, the winery became a secondhand goods store until 1923. In 1921, John Daneri sold the property to Anton Bochardo for $35,000. In the ensuing years, the first floor became a barber shop, a shoeshine business and a series of pool halls. Meanwhile the upstairs rooms were catering to a different type of clientele.
In June of 1942, the City of San Diego filed charges against the owners of the Lincoln Hotel for Abatement of Nuisance, which included “prostitution, assignments, and lewdness.” The owners were ordered to close the establishment for a year and a half and sell all the furniture and musical instruments to satisfy a chattel mortgage on the property. It later reopened as the Hotel Rio, and in 1976, became the Pacific Hotel. In 1986, an earthquake caused a heavy ornamental lion’s head to tumble from the roof onto the roof of the hotel manager’s car. The car was ruined, but the lion’s head survived and was quickly picked up by a local transient. The gentleman, realizing his good fortune at being in the right place at the right time, quickly sold the lion’s head to an artist for $45. It has never been recovered.
After restoration of the building in 1997, it once more became the Lincoln Hotel, providing low-income housing. The original leaded glass windows were restored, as well as the interior oak stairwell. Replicas of the original hotel balconies were additionally added. The Philippine Museum and Library occupied the basement until 2019, and there is additional retail space on the street level.
Sandee is the historian and lead tour guide for the Gaslamp Historical Foundation. She can be reached at [email protected]