“Escondido Picks Old Hotel Site for New Hospital” proclaimed the headline of an article in the June 24, 1945 edition of the San Diego Union.
“Selection of the site of the old Escondido hotel, a well known landmark 25 years ago, as the location of Escondido’s Palomar Memorial Hospital was announced by the hospital committee which is raising funds for the enterprise,” began the article. “The site, on Grand Avenue, is just east of the local civic center.”
The Escondido Hotel, one of the first buildings erected in the then-new town of Escondido, stood on Grand Avenue from 1886 until its demolition in 1925. When the newly-formed Escondido Valley Hospital Association selected the Grand Avenue site for their new complex, they also announced a combination community celebration and fundraiser to be held on the upcoming Fourth of July in Grape Day Park.
Escondido’s annual Grape Day celebration in the park had been on hiatus since Pearl Harbor, and the community may have been glad to get together again in the summer of 1945, with the war in Europe over and peace seeming to be on the horizon in the Pacific. An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people showed up for the event, putting the hospital building fund “well over its goal,” according to the Union of July 5, 1945. Keep in mind that Escondido’s population at that time stood at around 4,500 total.
It sounded from the press coverage like a good old-fashioned community party, with a barbecue, parade, horsemanship exhibitions and other entertainment including dances, singers and “several San Diego radio stars and war plant entertainers,” including “Therman Landreth, world champion top spinner.”
That single hospital on Grand Avenue would evolve into today’s Palomar Pomerado Health District.
Sources for this post included historic Escondido and San Diego newspapers and the history section of the Palomar Pomerado Health website, http://www.palomarhealth.org/about-us/about-us-our-story .
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