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Coronado Hotels Gets New Owner

September 13, 1996|JENNIFER OLDHAM

Renowned for its seaside setting, its architecture and its legendary guests, the 108-year-old Hotel del Coronado- sold Thursday to Travelers Group of New York- has witnessed history in the making. A few highlights from its storied past:

* The Victorian palace, known simply as the "Del" by locals or "the castle" by employees, has hosted 14 presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

* Legend has it that Thomas Edison supervised installation of the hotel's original lighting system- making the Del the first hotel west of the Mississippi to use electric lights.

* In 1988, previous owner M. Larry Lawrence spent $3 million on a lavish three- day Centennial birthday party for the hotel, which was built in 1888 at a cost of $ 1 million.

* L. Frank Baum, author of the "Oz" books, is said to have based the Emerald City on the hotel's red turrets and gingerbread architecture.

* One of the 691- room hotel's most famous visitors, the prince of Wales, is said to have met Wallis Simpson-then the wife of U.S. Navy Lt. Winfield Spencer-in 1920 during his state dinner. Seventeen years later, as King Edward, he abdicated the British crown to marry her.

* More than 80 movies have been filmed at the hotel since 1901, including "Some Like It Hot,"starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, "The Stunt Man" with Peter O'Toole and "Mr. Wrong" with Ellen DeGeneres.

* Aviator Charles Lindbergh was honored at the hotel banquet after his 1927 transatlantic solo flight.

* The hotel, designated by Congress as a National Historic Landmark in 1977, has been a hot spot for countless Hollywood stars, including Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Liberace, Desi Arnaz, Judy Garland and Esther Williams.

* Because it is one of the world's largest wooden structures, many developers, including Disney, have copied its architecture.

Sources: Hotel del Coronado staff; Times staff and wire reports.

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