A Mere Whisper…..

Tuftco Building


744 Sixth Street

Architect: Unknown

Architectural Style: Turn-of-the-Century Commercial

Some historic landmarks are recognized because of their architectural style or uniqueness, others for events that occurred there, and yet others for famous personages attached to the site. The Tuftco building, also known as the Haines and Brandis building, was one of the latter.

The site, known as Lot J of Block 093/70 was , of course, first associated with Alonzo Horton. The next important name in this parade of notable citizens of San Diego was William Starke Rosecrans. After the Civil War, General Rosecrans resigned from the Union Army, and came to San Diego in 1869 to pursue his interest in railroads. This led him to Alonzo Horton, whose dream was to build a cross country rail line ending in San Diego – a match made in heaven! Mr. Horton practically gifted General Rosecrans with nearly an entire block of New Town property, which the general promptly sold back to Horton for $2,000 and two other lots. One was Block 70/093 or Lot J.

Several more transactions among various buyers ensued until finally, in 1874, the south side of Lot J was transferred to James W. Pierce. Pierce arrived in San Diego in 1869 from San Francisco, where he was a successful businessman,. He was elected to the State Assembly from this

county, served on the Board of Supervisors, and as a City Trustee. He, additionally, was one of the founders of San Diego’s first bank – the Bank of San Diego – and became vice-president of the County Savings Bank. He died in 1887, while actively supervising the construction of his iconic landmark, the Pierce-Morse Building.

The south side of Lot J housed the Haines & Brandis Saloon from 1887 until 1890. In the early years, the structure on the property was, as most early structures were throughout the area, a simple one-story wooden building, with a composition roof and a tile chimney. Nothing fancy, but it served the purpose until the proprietor, Thomas Tighe, moved up the street, where he opened the better known, Magnolia Saloon.

The north side of the lot changed hands several times before it was acquired by Dr. Peter and Sophia Remondino in 1901. Dr. Remondino, a graduate of the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, had been an Army surgeon, served for France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), and had a private practice in Minnesota. He moved to California in 1873 when poor health forced him to leave the harsh climate in Minnesota.

After opening an office with Dr. R.J. Gregg, a former classmate, Dr. Remondino became the City Physician and then County Physician. He was also surgeon for the California Southern Railroad, the Marine Hospital and the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. He additionally was named first president of the San Diego Board of Health, president of the San Diego Medical Society, president of the Southern California Medical Society and vice-president of the California Medical Association. He also served on the

State Board of Health. He went on to chair the medical history department of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Los Angeles, now the University of Southern California.

In conjunction with Dr. Thomas C. Stockton (of the Davis-Horton House), Dr. Remondino built a large, 50-bed hospital, the first private hospital in the area, on Colombia and F Streets. Unfortunately, it was later abandoned, as they could not compete with the county hospital. The building later became the Arlington Hotel.

During his busy life, Dr. Remondino ventured into additional real estate, and built the St. James Hotel in 1886. The hotel, a luxurious edifice was, at the time, the tallest building in San Diego. It also housed his medical library of over 15,000 volumes – the largest and finest medical library in the state. Upon his death, the library was purchased by John Scripps, who donated it to Loma Linda University. It contains texts dating back to the 1600s. A noted bibliophile, author, lecturer and patron of the arts, Dr. Remondino and his wife, Sophia, hosted two annual aficionados.

Dr. Remondino retired from his medical practice in his late 60s, but resumed practicing during the flu pandemic of 1918. Although he used lot J as strictly a rental property and never built on it, he kept it until 1921. He died in 1926 just two months short of his 81st birthday.

By 1924, Hyman and Annie Effron owned the property, and began construction on a two-story plus basement, brick structure with a composition roof. It had no chimney nor light wells. There were four windows on the second floor and commercial type windows on the first.

The first tenants were a sign painter and a furniture dealer. In 1938, the furniture dealer was still at the site, and a furniture dealer appeared again on a fire map from 1956. By 1978, the property was owned by Union Title Trust company. No additional business listings could be found, but one can assume that during the 1980s some type of rug cleaning or industrial cleaning business occupied the property, as it acquired the name “Tuftco.” Tuftco is a leading manufacturer of carpet, tile, artificial flooring and cleaning devices for these surfaces.

Lot J now serves as the rear entrance to the new Marriott Ac1 Hotel, as the hotel goes through from 5th to 6th. Continuing in its tradition, Marriott is a well known name in San Diego and worldwide. So – one could say that a whisper of lot J and its storied owners remains!

Sandee is the Historian/Lead Tour Guide at the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. She can be reached at [email protected].