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History of Gaslamp Plaza Suites

As you enter the subtle elegance of the Gaslamp Plaza Suites lobby, you step back in time. In 1913 this nationally registered historic site was erected by Nathan Watts to be the city's first "skyscraper" - 11 stories of marble, brass, mosaic tile, and Australian gumwood. This excellence was extended into the banking offices of the financial institution that was to become San Diego Trust & Savings. This organization occupied the tile, marble and gumwood splendor until 1927, when the offices were moved to their present location at the corner of Broadway and Sixth Street.

In 1926 the building had its first change of owners. Mrs. Pauline Watts Settle became the owner at the death of her brother and kept the building for eighteen years. With the upsurge of the economy in 1937, Mrs. Settle authorized the first major remodeling of the Watts Building with new elevator and hall lighting systems.

The business use of the building took a decided change in 1944 when ownership was transferred to the Teacher family. One was a jeweler from Illinois and soon the jewelry trade became prominent among tenants.

When ownership was transferred to Joseph H. Norman in 1951, the building was described as having "125 offices, a beneath-the-street basement where the bank had been and a sub-basement", needed for the machinery, such as the boiler, vacuum cleaning system, compressed air plant and the elevator apparatus.

The ownership and the name of the building changed in 1952. For the next 25 years the Robinson building housed a variety of businesses. It remained an important address for doctors, lawyers, jewelers, photographers, and importers.

Most recently before its transformation into a small luxury hotel, the building was known as the Jewelers' Exchange. The marble corridors were filled with gemologists and jewelers, buyers and sellers, wholesalers and retailers, importers and exporters.

In 1988 Gaslamp Plaza Suites opened as a 60-suite hotel, exuding the quiet elegance befitting an historic structure of its stature. Many of the original architectural aspects are still evident such as original marble on walls and stairways, coiffured ceilings, brass elevator doors, and Australian gumwood carpentry around the etched glass windows and doors. All are preserved meticulously in keeping with our status of being listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


Gaslamp Plaza Suites
520 E. Street San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-232-9500 | Fax: 619-238-9945