Historic Structures

Santa Fe Railroad Station, San Diego California

Date added: August 4, 2016 Categories: California Train Station Mission Revival

The depot, a "long picturesque building of the mission type," was to be, when finished, the "largest, and finest station in the state." So the March 15, 1914, issue of the San Diego Union declared. This paper also noted that the contract for the building, for $230,000, went to the William Simpson Construction Company. The steel came from Chicago, but all the other materials were purchased locally. In its January 1, 1915, issue, the same paper noted that the decorative tiles had been ordered from the California China Products Co. of National City. The furnishings were opulent and expensive; the solid brass ticket booth gratings, for example, costing $1,000 each. This issue of the paper also reported that the depot would serve "as a model for all future passenger stations built in California by the Santa Fe."

The construction of this depot (1915) marked a great new era for San Diego" and its completion was rushed to concur with the grand opening of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of that year.

The major alteration to the building was the destruction of the front portico in 1954. Other major changes include the closing of the Harvey Restaurant, originally located at the north of the waiting room and separated from it by arches. There were also a number of changes which took place in the 1960s to "modernize" the ticket selling operation. These include the removal of the ticket office on the west side of the waiting room and the construction of a new ticket office on the north side. At this time the rooms to the north of the waiting room, including the lunch room and kitchen, were divided into smaller rooms for the telegraph office, store and filing rooms and men and women's toilets. There were other changes in the baggage room and elsewhere where new partition walls were elected. The building to the north of the baggage room was constructed at an undetermined date.

The original concept for the Depot combined "an open air waiting room or patio" (south end) and "a long covered concourse", enclosing the patio and "uniting the design elements".

The main approach was from Broadway, through the court to the large arched forecourt with its glazed window above the entrance doors to the waiting room.

The waiting room contains rest rooms and stair (east side) to railway offices above. The north end originally contained the Harvey Lunchroom.

A covered concourse (west side) connects the passenger station with the baggage and express section, further north. There is a "carriage entrance" between these sections, connecting Kettner to the rail siding. The original clay bricks laid in herringbone pattern are still in existence, some overlayed by asphalt.

The notable exterior features are the great arch, flanked by twin towers of Spanish Renaissance flavor, with delightfully colored tiled domes capped by tiled lanterns. The brightly colored tiles with zig-zag patterns, incorporating the railways symbol, are especially notable. Simple gable and shed roofs are of Mission tile.

The interiors are notable for their grand scale with nine arched elements and natural redwood beam and purlin ceilings. The interior walls have handsome, brightly colored tile wainscoting with plaster above 8' and are penetrated by arched clerestory windows, near the ceiling. The interior has the original clay tile flooring in two sizes and colors. Long oak benches are original and in beautiful condition. The interior chandeliers of bronze and glass are original and of special note. Wood framed doors with their hand carved lettering on transom scrolls delight the eye.