Metropole Hotel, Avalon, Santa Catalina Island

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Shatto's Hotel Metropole, c. 1887
Santa Catalina Island

Metropole Hotel, Avalon, Santa Catalina Island (Hotel Metropole) (1888-1915) was begun by George Shatto in 1888. After the Bannings purchased the island in 1892, a number of additions and improvements were made:

  • 1892 first cupola
  • 1893 east wing
  • 1896 west wing
  • 1897 ballroom annex
  • 1898-1902 second cupola
  • 1902 sea wall
  • 1902-1903 glass sun-parlor
  • 1913 barber shop
  • 1915 shoe-shining

November 29, 1915 the hotel burned in the Avalon fire. Today’s Hotel Metropole is on the site of the original Metropole.

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In the News~

June 25, 1892 [SPT]: “The Hotel Metropole at Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, was opened on the 15th, under new management of Messrs. Auld and Scott, who have newly furnished it throughout, and added a new billiard room, dining room and kitchen.”

August 28, 1895 [SFCall]: “Justinian Caire, owner of the Santa Cruz Island in the Santa Barbara Channel, and a resident of San Francisco, is at the Metropole accompanied by his wife and daughter. Mr. Caire is not here solely for recreation, it is rumored, but he is quietly taking notes of this famous island resort with a view to establishing a similar watering-place on his own island. While Mr. Caire is very reserved in regard to his future plans, it is currently understood that he intends to compete for custom[ers] with other coast resorts. It is said that the other parties are interested in the enterprise with Mr. Caire, and all necessary money is at their command. A magnificent hotel will be erected and the island made a first-class resort. Santa Cruz Island is situated some twenty-five miles out at sea from Santa Barbara, and comprises about 60,000 acres of land. It is, like Catalina, of mountainous formation.”

September 26, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Manager H. E. Fletcher has given notice to his guests that Hotel Metropole will be closed next Friday and no guests will be received after that date until further notice. It is the plan of the management to make extensive improvements in the hotel, but just to what extent the improvements will be carried has not been decided upon. The entire building will be repainted and renovated, steam heat will be introduced into all the rooms, some of the stairways will be altered and changes in the lobby and music room, which will add grace and beauty to the interior, and possibly a radical changing of the central portion with the addition of elevators, may be undertaken. The hotel will be closed for two months, and the improvements may require even more time, so that it may not be reopened until about the holidays.”

January 12, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. H. E. Fletcher, the new manager of the Metropole, arrived today, accompanied by his wife. Mr. Fletcher for a number of years was manager of the Lake Hotel in Yellowstone Park and lately was chief clerk at the Westminster, Los Angeles.”

April 12, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Captain McKinistry, in charge of the harbor work at San Pedro for the government, was a guest of Hancock Banning at Hotel Metropole on Sunday.”

October 1, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The Metropole closed its doors today for repairs and improvements…”

August 17, 1906 [LAH]: “Hotel Metropole — American plan, strictly first-class.”

August 3, 1908 [LAH]: “Pasadena, August 2. …Another book which Prof. Holder has in preparation, to be published some time this winter, is The Channel Islands. This will cover a field which has hardly been touched by writers. It is already half written. ‘For the last few years I have been particularly engaged in archaeological researches in these islands,’ said Prof. Holder to The Herald correspondent this afternoon. ‘I have secured hundreds of photographs and much new data. Few people realize that these islands, now many of them entirely unpopulated, were once the homes of thousands of Indians. When I first visited San Nicolas Island, twenty-five years ago, there was a pile of abalone shells ten feet high and at least a mile long, the refuse from the Indians’ cooking operations. The site of the Hotel Metropole at Avalon, when I first saw it, was as black as ink from the fires, which had burned there during generations. Traces can still be seen by crawling under the porches there...’”

January 12, 1915 [TI/Avalon]: “With the streets brilliantly lighted and the Hotel Metropole again open, Avalon begins to lose the ‘graveyard’ appearance which has prevailed for the past few months.”

January 19, 1915 [TI/Avalon]: “The lawn in front of the Hotel Metropole is being beautified with palm trees.”

May 9, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “In the excavations now going on at the site of the famous hotel Metropole recently destroyed by fire and for ten feet beneath the surface, are found portions of human bones estimated to be 300 years old…”

September 4, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “Several heavy blasts at the new hotel site near Sugar Loaf last week moved tons of rock and gravel. It is estimated that about 9000 cubic yards have yet to be moved before the site will be ready for the foundations of the new hotel building.”

September 18, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “Approximately 7000 yards of rock and gravel remain to be removed to bring down to its proper level the site for the new Hotel Metropole, located near Sugar Loaf, on the north side of Avalon Bay… There is a possibility that the hotel may be completed for next season…”

October 2, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “On the site of the new proposed Hotel Metropole, near Sugar Loaf, a huge blast yesterday morning sent tons of rock and gravel hundreds of feet into the air. As the broken mass fell into the water a series of beautiful splashes followed. Over thirty-five tons of blasting powder have been used by the Santa Catalina Island Company in the work of removing the hill to prepare a suitable site for the projected hostelty. The work is progressing rapidly. Monday’s upheaval was probably the last large one that will be required in completing the leveling of the ground.”

December 18, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “Captain George B. Johnson passed away Tuesday morning, at his winter residence in Banning, Cal. He was 41 years of age… During the past ten years he has been Master of the different vessels operated by the Meteor Boat Company, and last summer was compelled to resign his position as Master of the Emperor, (the largest glass-bottomed power boat in the world) owing to ill health. Six years ago he made a trip to Lower California as navigator of the yacht Comfort.”

January 1, 1918 [LAT]: “Avalon… The Catalina Hotel was rebuilt during the year and the excavation and foundation for the palatial new Metropole completed. Work on this pile is now being pushed and it is expected that the building will be ready for the reception of guests by the first of next June. This will give Catalina one of the best hotels in the state, where every comfort and luxury will be provided for the guest, who come from every land and clime. The hotel will cost between $300,000 and $400,000.”