Santa Monica’s most historic hotel is the Fairmont Miramar, which boasts an impressive guest list over the years. The hotel gets its name from the Miramar house built by Senator John Percival Jones, one of the founders of Santa Monica, in 1889. The huge fig tree that stands in the hotel courtyard today was planted by the Senator’s wife — it was said to be given to her gardener by a bartender who claimed the sapling was given to him by an Australian sailor as payment for a drink.
The Senator entertained some heavy hitters at the Miramar including Mark Twain, Susan B Anthony, and John Muir.
Mrs. Jones sold the home to King Gillette, of the razor fame, in 1912 but it eventually fell into the hands of a hotelier named Gilbert Stevenson, who transformed the lot overlooking Santa Monica Bay into a hotel. He added the Miramar Apartments to the home (now known as the Palisades Wing) for long term guests. One of these long-term guests was Great Garbo, who lived there for four years.
In the 1930’s they added the bungalows that are the only such accommodation of this type in Santa Monica. They provided a ton of privacy for those who had a hard time finding it – Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charles Lindbergh all hid from the world in the exclusive hideaways.
Not only has the hotel played host to the entertainment elite; it has been the temporary home of many political figures as well. John F. Kennedy visited frequently in the 1960s and Bill Clinton stayed here while running for President in 1992.
The hotel is about to undergo a significant renovation designed by the same architect who designed Shutters by the Beach just down the street as well as star architect Cesar Pelli. It will include a 20-story tower and will cost $255 million.
If you’re interested in seeing the hotel before these changes, you may want to get over there soon – plans have been submitted and are under consideration right now!
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The Kozars, Lethbridge, Canada
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