AKA: Commodore Hotel, San Diego, CA; Lyceum Theatre, San Diego, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Dean, Willis J., Architect (firm); Willis J. Dean (architect)

Dates: constructed 1912-1913

4 stories

815 3rd Avenue
Downtown, San Diego, CA 92101

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Addresses of the Robert E. Lee Hotel included 815 3rd Avenue and 314 F Street.


A number of hotels were built in San Diego in preparation for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915. The Robert E. Lee Hotel, named for the leading general of the Confederacy, was completed about three years after the U.S. Grant Hotel in 1910, financed by the Union general's son, US Grant, Jr., and Louis J. Wilde. "Lost Cause" revisionism was very strong in American culture at this period, and its is possible that this desire to honor both leaders of the Civil War in San Diego by naming hotels for them may have been seen as appropriate by some.

Building History

The United Investment Company named the hotel the "Robert E. Lee Hotel" shortly before its opening in 1913. A former stable owner, Samuel Wood Grier (born c. 1876 in PA), served as President of the United Investment Company in 1912. Grier was born in PA, but lived in KS before relocating to San Diego, CA, by at least 1906. He worked in partnership with G.F. Millner in running a livery service during 1907-1908, and then seems to have made a transition into real estate investments. He operated the S.W. Grier Company, a real estate firm, by 1912.

Foundation excavation for this combined hotel/theatre building began in 05/1912, with the Chaffey Construction Company serving as the building contractor. The San Diego engineer, Willis J. Dean, produced the design.

Margaret A. Allan owned the hotel in 1979.

Building Notes

A German-born man, Robert H. Schops (born c. 1875), managed the Robert E. Lee Hotel from at least 1920 until 1922. He arrived in New York on 06/17/1898 from Hamburg, Germany, aboard the S.S. Pennsylvania. He worked as a waiter in Germany, and would go on to manage hotels in the US.

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, added 1980, Building #80000844. Placing the building on the National Register did not prove significant enough to prevent the hotel's demolition.


The Robert E. Lee Hotel was torn down to make way for the Horton Plaza shopping mall in the 1980s.

National Register of Historic Places: 80000844 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 4470