The Cosmopolitan’s history goes back to a man named Juan Lorenzo Bandini, one of San Diego’s pioneers who settled here in the 1800s and a colorful and important player in San Diego's early development. He designed and constructed his grand residence, the largest in Old Town at the time, between 1827 and 1829. The single-story home was built around False Bay, later named Mission Bay circa 1944.
Bandini’s goal for the home was to make sure his wife and two daughters were most comfortable. The home had seven rooms, an entrance hall, an enclosed courtyard, a corral, and several sheds and barns. It was designed with Spanish Colonial architectural features such as thick adobe walls, muslin ceilings, pane-glass windows, and a brick-lined patio. The Bandinis lived in their home until 1859.
After Bandini’s death, Emily and Albert Seeley, a stage master, took over the building to create a place where travelers could have comfort, style and entertainment at the same time. In the fall of 1869, they celebrated the grand opening of The Cosmopolitan Hotel, having added a second level to the adobe structure. The architectural theme was Greek Revival. Some of the amenities of The Cosmopolitan Hotel were a bar, sitting and billiards room, a barber shop, and a local post office. The hotel’s main attraction was its grand balcony that wrapped around the second story, where guests to San Diego enjoyed seeing the crowd and activities in the town square below.
The 1870s brought fires to Old Town and growth in other areas of San Diego. In 1888 Seeley sold The Cosmopolitan; the building became a canning facility for an olive factory in 1900. Throughout the years the building lost its value, due to lack of maintenance. Fortunately, in 1928 Cave J. Couts Jr. took over the property. A grandson of Bandini, Couts turned the broken-down building into a hotel and restaurant with added amenities such as wired electricity, gas, and a new style of decor.
||During the 1950s the hotel and restaurant became an upscale tourist motel owned by James H. and Nora Cardwell. In 1968 the property was sold to the state of California; the same year the original buildings in Old Town San Diego evolved into Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
For more information, visit the California State Parks website.