Skip To Main Content
Phone mobile icon
  • Grande Colonial is a historic hotel with an incredible story to tell. Book today to be a part of it!

    Past & Present

1913 - Present

1913: The Grande Colonial Is Born
The Colonial Apartments and Hotel, later to become the Grande Colonial, opens its doors to become the talk of the town and a foundation for the community.  The original owners were A.B. Harlan and George Bane.
Owner George Bane commissions architect Frank Stevenson to design a hotel that would “rival anything in the West.” The existing building was moved to the rear of the property and a new, four-story, concrete, mixed-use building was erected in its place.
Putnam's Legacy Begins. The La Jolla Drugstore, next door to the Colonial, was purchased by Kansas native Silas O. Putnam.
The “new” Colonial was completed, boasting 28 apartments and 25 single hotel rooms. It also had the first sprinkler system west of the Mississippi; solid, unsupported, reinforced cement stairways and fire doors that still exist in the structure. The La Jolla Drugstore was moved inside the Colonial’s main building. An ice cream parlor was added on the sidewalk that served up chocolate sodas and banana splits. The drugstore became a prime location for locals to gather, talk and watch the few passersby. Well loved by the townspeople, the pharmacist was the father of Gregory Peck, who grew up in La Jolla but eventually left for Hollywood and became a movie star.
Bane leases the entire property to a “Hollywood man” named W. S. Beard. Unhappy with the way Beard was running things, Bane reorganized the business and R.C. Bugler was brought in as the manager. One year later, a more solid financial plan was drawn for the hotel and the rest of La Jolla grew up around this community cornerstone.
During World War II, the Colonial became home to many of the “top brass” from nearby Camp Callan. While the men were at Camp during the day, their wives volunteered for the local Red Cross. At night, the hotel’s sunroom was partitioned to create accommodations for single servicemen.
Hollywood meets the Grande Colonial. Following the war, the Colonial became a temporary home to some of Hollywood’s up and coming stars that were performing at the La Jolla Playhouse, founded in 1947 by Peck and fellow actors, Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire. Charlton Heston, Groucho Marx, Jane Wyatt, Eve Arden, Pat O’Brien, David Niven and many other celebrities occupied the hotel well into the late 1950s and continue today.
The drugstore needed more space, so Putnam’s son, “Putty” moved the establishment to new quarters, much to the chagrin of the community.
The Colonial Inn receives the “People in Preservation” award from the Save Our Heritage Organization. It was said that, “the Colonial Inn... brings the very best from La Jolla’s past tastefully into the present. Elegance, continental service, graceful design and décor, all embraced in the ambience of a small European hotel.”
1976: Selling the Colonial
Three local partners purchased the Colonial for approximately $1 million. The Colonial’s name was changed to the Colonial Inn. Over the next four years the hotel underwent a $3 million restoration that brought back its original grandeur. The 75-room property was designed “like an elegant, European hotel” by San Diego’s Robert Carlisle.
1978: New Additions
The hotel adds a swimming pool to its list of on-site amenities.
1980: Tradition Continues
The space once occupied by Putnam’s drugstore became Putnam’s Grille. Reflecting the La Jolla of the 1920s, the restaurant was redesigned to feature dark wood paneling, wrought iron chandeliers and ceiling fans, oak dining sets and large picture windows that created an open, fluid environment. The original soda fountain was replaced with a mirrored back bar and alcoholic beverages were served instead of ice cream sodas. The restaurant also stayed true to its heritage by offering diners sidewalk seating, continuing the tradition of the past 65 years.
1988: $13.85 Million
The hotel was sold for an estimated $13.85 million to a Japanese-based investment firm, Tokyo Masuiwaya California.
1998: A New Partnership
Franklin Croft LLC and Fargo Hotel investors LLC joined forces to create Fargo Colonial LLC and purchased the hotel.
1999: The Fargo Era
Fargo Colonial LLC brings aboard hotel veteran Terry Underwood as general manager. Under Terry's leadership, the Grande Colonial undergoes an extensive $5 million renovation. As a result, all 75 guest rooms, lobby and restaurant were dramatically upgraded.
2001: Nine-Ten "Extraordinary to Perfection"
Putnam’s Grille closed its doors and the Grande Colonial opened what has become one of the region’s finest dining experiences, NINE-TEN Restaurant. The new restaurant opened in July and, since opening, has garnered numerous awards and accolades including an “extraordinary to perfection” rating by ZAGAT.
2007: Strides Forward
The Grande Colonial takes another stride forward unveiling the completion of an $8 million restoration project. The project included the preservation of two adjacent historic landmarks, the Little Hotel by the Sea and the Garden Terraces, adding 18 new suites to the hotel’s inventory. The eight-suite Little Hotel by the Sea and the ten-suite Garden Terraces had operated as residential apartment complexes for the past 30 years and had now been restored to their original glory for the community to enjoy for years to come. To recognize their historical significance in the development of La Jolla, both properties were designated as historic sites in 1984 and 1990 respectively.
2011: Challenger- Chef Knibb
Executive Chef Jason Knibb appears on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, challenging the legendary Bobby Flay to a seafood showdown. Knibb remains the first and only San Diego chef to be invited to appear on Iron Chef.
2012: Contemporary Sophistication
In preparation of its Centennial, the hotel unveils a $500,000 renovation of its entry and foyer, lobby and surrounding public spaces and two adjacent meeting rooms. The sophisticated new décor carefully preserved the Grande Colonial’s enduring historic appeal, infusing a classic European ambiance and a refined, contemporary sophistication. In this spirit, the result showcases the fine architectural details – such as original Georgian style arches, original cast plaster crown moldings, lead glass windows and intricate hand-stenciled ceilings.
2013: Grande Colonial Centennial
On February 1st, 2013, the Grande Colonial officially celebrates its 100 year anniversary as a cornerstone of the La Jolla and San Diego community.  Watch our Centennial video here.
Hotel management and employees bury a time capsule underneath the hotel containing a collection of items relevant to the hotel, our community and to our present day. The capsule was dedicated with a permanent plaque inviting those who come after us to remember us and the time in which we lived by opening the capsule on February 1st, 2113.
NINE-TEN Sous Chef, Ramon Bojorquez, premieres as a "cheftestant" on season 11 of Bravo TV's Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series, “Top Chef", filmed in New Orleans. Ramon joins only a handful of other San Diego chefs who have been invited to compete on the show.
2014: Chef of the Year
Executive Chef, Jason Knibb, was honored by the California Restaurant Association's (CRA) San Diego Chapter as the 2014 "San Diego Chef of the Year". The award was presented by San Diego’s Mayor, Kevin Faulconer. Considered San Diego’s most prestigious restaurant honors, the 2014 "Gold Medallion Awards" gala attracted over 1,200 industry guests, including our city’s most celebrated restaurateurs, chefs, purveyors, San Diego's Mayor, city dignitaries, media and foodies. The evening featured a multi-course dinner, entertainment and the presentation of many award categories. The CRA raised over $160,000, which will benefit ongoing efforts to support foodservice equipment and education.
2015: The Grande Colonial Goes Green
The hotel adds three Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (1 regular; 2 for Tesla vehicles), available to hotel guests and restaurant patrons on a complimentary basis.
2017: The New NINE-TEN Unveiled
  • A $750,000 renovation of NINE-TEN Restaurant was unveiled on Wednesday, September 6th, 2017.  The design, by local restaurant design firm Robinson Brown Design, was intended to be an update to the existing restaurant and create a more modern vibe while keeping the upscale mood.  New elements include a refreshing color scheme with infusions of emerald green and light wood while also keeping with the restaurant’s existing stone tiled floor.  The new palette is meant to be light and contemporary with added texture and color. The restaurant’s new main focal point is the vibrant and locally inspired ocean and fauna wall panorama created by renowned local artist, Dana Montlack. The color scheme and art allude to the hotel’s iconic location at the sea and La Jolla Cove.
2019: $4 Million Room Renovation & Expansion
The Grande Colonial unveils a $4 million renovation of its guest rooms and suites, including a majority of the bathrooms.  The project, completed in phases, building-by-building, floor-by-floor, was completed in March of 2019.  Interior design was provided by Warren Sheets Design, Inc., a San Francisco-based architectural and interior design firm, the same design firm used for the two most recent renovations of the hotel lobby, and meeting spaces.
At the same time of the 2019 room renovation, the hotel unveiled the completion of another historic restoration project, the adjacent Swansea Apartments, originally constructed in 1927 by local designer and builder, William B. Melhorn of the Melhorn Construction Company.  The Tudor-style building and four apartments have been completely restored and converted into four, 1-bedroom suites, and are now a part of the Grande Colonial's total 97-room inventory.
The first-ever MICHELIN Guide, which has continued to evolve and expand internationally and has served as a trusted source and companion to travelers and foodies alike since 1926, was unveiled in the State of California.  NINE-TEN was recognized within this Guide as a "Plate Distinction" Restaurant, amongst a very exclusive group of restaurants.
2021: NINE-TEN Turns Twenty!
Located in a spot that boasts more than a century of memories, NINE-TEN Restaurant celebrates twenty years as one of San Diego’s pioneer ‘farm-to-table’ restaurants.  Upon opening on July 17th, 2001, NINE-TEN quickly became one of the regions finest dining establishments. Holding the reins today is nationally acclaimed Executive Chef, Jason Knibb, who has led the culinary team since October of 2003.