Ontario’s Hotel Casa Blanca had Charlie Chaplin as a guest but met a sad end – Daily Bulletin

After my column on the fire that engulfed Ontario’s No. 1 landmark, the city-owned Fallis House, Pomona reader Ron Vander Molen took a broad view of the issue. And his view was of added interest because in the 1980s he had lived across from the 1902 structure.

“Like so many well-meaning ‘preservation’ stories of historic properties,” wrote Vander Molen, “many years of neglect and decay show up in properties like this. ‘it is too late that the comments should have, could have, should have appeared.

Vander Molen cited other excellent examples: “the negligent continued destruction” of the old Norconian Hotel Norco, the brick Pomona City Stables that partially collapsed in 2017, and the “near misses” of the Pomona Fox and Pomona YMCA buildings, both of which suffered severe damage shortly before being rescued in the 21st century.

Vander Molen added, “I was on the same block as the old Casa Blanca hotel, which is another example that has been left to rot for many, many years.”

Oh, the Casa Blanca.

The grand hotel on Holt Boulevard in Ontario opened in 1915 and hosted Charlie Chaplin the following year. The hotel was later turned into apartments, used as a drug rehabilitation center, and abandoned in its final years. A reader told me that in the 1980s he and a friend used to sneak around and explore.

The Casa Blanca was acquired by the town hall in 1989 to settle a debt – no, not from a municipal poker game, but money owed by the owner on other sites – and yet, nuances of the Fallis house , good intentions gone wrong .

The hotel was demolished in 1998 when the $2.7 million estimate for renovations was deemed too high for its $450,000 value.

As they voted to approve the demolition, some city council members acknowledged that much of the dilapidation of Casa Blanca was the result of the city’s lack of maintenance, according to our media coverage.

“We haven’t properly monitored the situation on the Casa Blanca for the past five to seven years,” then-Councilman Jerry DuBois admitted at that 1998 meeting. dropped us in the dilapidated state it is in. Everyone knew it was a historic landmark.

I expect there will be notable properties across the Inland Empire that the same could be said of. Three on the West End: the former Buffalo Inn on the Highlands, the old Firehouse Inn in Pomona and the Chinatown House in Rancho Cucamonga. You could name others in your own town.

Not all notable buildings can be saved, especially when, like the Firehouse Inn and the Buffalo Inn, they are in private hands. The Buffalo Inn may have lost enough of its mojo to be worthless. Every time I walk past it looks worse, like a haunted house. I always fear that next time it will be a smoking ruin.

Have Ontario officials learned lessons from the Casa Blanca? Five years later, in 2003, the city-owned Fallis department store building was also deemed unsalvageable and hit the wrecking ball. The lot is still empty.

DuBois’ comments in 1998 about letting a landmark fall into disrepair today could apply to the Fallis house, which had stood empty for 12 years and was repeatedly overrun by passengers. After the fire of November 11, the house may be dismantled.

Upgrades have been planned to transform the home, connected to a pioneering Ontario family, into a transit center and business incubator. Officials hope it can still happen, but the stately home is no longer original, just a simulation.

In this column, I quoted two neighbors who had witnessed the fire and the comings and goings. They live in the Emporia Place apartments across from the Fallis house.

These apartments rose in 2020 on what for years had been vacant land which took up a full square block.

This was the old site of the Casa Blanca.

briefly

Pomona Unity Church is a rare interreligious congregation, which tries to find common ground between the major religions. But like traditional churches, or like Unity itself, Unity Church is in trouble. A benefit concert from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday aims to help out a little. Singers, pianists and a guitarist will perform at the modest church, 24 E. Pasadena St. Masks and vaccinations are mandatory, and donations are not just encouraged, they are the goal.

David Allen writes Friday, Sunday and Wednesday, perhaps missing the point. Email [email protected], call 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.

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