There are few people that remember the name Hotel Del Rey. Built 100 years ago by pioneer woman Ida B. Frazier, it may be the most historic surviving building of Corona history, though now in a state of disassembly.
It was the first building in Corona to have a telephone installed. It even housed and fed the crew that placed the first telephones throughout town. And the crew that built the Prado Dam. And railroad crews. At the time of its disassembly, it was the second longest continuously operating establishment in Riverside County.
Circa 1904 photo courtesy Corona Public Library Heritage Room
Far more than just Corona’s only boarding house, the hotel was the center of social activity. If there was to be a banquet for the Chamber of Commerce, a Fire Department fundraiser or any important affair, it was held at the Del Rey. Though not opulent by any stretch of the imagination, it was a great improvement over tents where most immigrants spent their first nights.
In the 20’s, new owners changed the name from the “Del Rey” (of the king), to the “President,” then to the “Californian,” the “Centennial,” finally becoming the “Victoria” in the 40’s. The Victoria Hotel survived until 1998 becoming infamous as a seedy haven for drugs and prostitution. The building had become so unpopular that when the Corona Historic Preservation Society asked the community for help in moving the structure, they were often offered matches to burn it down rather than help to save it.
The land was bought by the Bank of America for use to expand their parking. There was no hope of keeping the building in place. Long negotiations ensued, finally persuading the bank and the city to deed the structure to the preservation society along with financial help to move it, though there was no appropriate place. However, the Corona Heritage Foundation was just forming with the intention of creating a hertitage park. A restoration company was discovered that could harmlessly disassemble the structure. It was decided that the entire hotel would be stored until it could be reasembled in the future at the park.
Though there are obviously no architectural comparisions between Corona’s Hotel Del Rey and Riverside's Mission Inn or San Diego's Del Coronado, the historical aspects to their cities are as important. The hotel is planned to once again be the prime spot in town to hold a fancy banquet or a stylish wedding reception.