The face of Avalon was forever changed on November 29, 1915 when a fire destroyed a large portion of town, including the Metropole and many other hotels, the Tuna Club, Pilgrim Club, main bathhouse, waterfront shops, and all other city structures within its path. More than half the town was burned. Amazingly there were no injuries or fatalities reported. Faced with enormous financial losses, the Bannings took a trust deed in the amount of $850,000 to pay off debts and build a major new tourist hotel — the Saint Catherine.
Hotels lost in the fire include: Avalon Inn; Bay View Hotel; Catalina House; Central Hotel; Dew Drop Inn; Eddy’s Terrace; Glenmore; Grand View Hotel; Island Villa; Marilla Cottage; Metropole; Miramar; Sea Beach Hotel and the Rose Hotel where the fire is thought to have started.
In the News~
November 29, 1915 [LAH]: “$1,500,000 fire sweeps Avalon. Flames raze half of island resort; blame incendiary. Avalon, Catalina, Nov. 29.—Fully one-half of Avalon has been destroyed. The damage is $1,500,000. The fire is believed to have been of incendiary origin. Sweeping over the western half of the picturesque city of Avalon, Catalina Island, a fire which started shortly before dawn today burned more than half of Avalon to the ground. The Metropole Hotel, a landmark of Southern California, and five other hotels were completely destroyed by the flames. More than half of the town was destroyed. All of the better residence section on the right of the landing is in ashes. Guests of the hotels rushed screaming from the blazing buildings, fleeing in their nightclothes. The damage is estimated at between $500,000 and $1,000,000. The fire is believed to have originated in the kitchen of the Rose Hotel between 2 and 3 o'clock this morning. Within half an hour it had swept half across the island, in spite of the instantaneous rush of inhabitants and hotel guests to fight the flames. Men and women in night clothes carried water and worked hose, assisting the volunteer fire company of the island. nearly all of the waterfront section was completely wiped out by the blaze. The Metropole, which, it is said, was insured for $100,000 and which was probably the oldest structure at Avalon, was entirely demolished. There were no tourists at the Metropole, as the hotel had long been closed since October 6. The Bay View, the Rose, the Grand View, the Miramar and the Central hotels were burned to the ground.”
November 30, 1915 [SBMP]: “Avalon, beauty of the sea, is burned. Half the town of Avalon, on Santa Catalina Island, was destroyed by fire today… The steamer Hermosa arrived at San Pedro Harbor shortly before noon with guests from one of the hotels destroyed at Avalon. The vessel left immediately with provisions and supplies for the island. It was stated that many of the 500 people from Avalon were homeless.”