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  • Writer's pictureCassandra L. Wilkinson

Go West, Young Man... And Women

The 2015 INTA Annual Meeting was held May 1st through May 6th in San Diego, California. Over 9,000 people from more than 145 countries were in attendance this year. The INTA Annual Meeting gave Head, Johnson & Kachigian, P.C. an opportunity to spend some social time with our international associates and business partners.

The meeting was held at the very large San Diego Convention Center, which is directly behind the water feature in the second photo.

This year we held the reception at the Horton Grand Hotel in the Gaslamp District of San Diego.

A little background on the Gaslamp District and the Horton Grand in San Diego might help set the scene of just what a special area we were in. We will start with the Gaslamp District and its questionable reputation back in the day.

According to, in the 1850’s, San Franciscan Williams Heath Davis made an effort to establish a town on San Diego’s waterfront, and began developing land. Davis built a house for his family and it is now the oldest surviving structure in the district, but eventually his venture failed. In 1867, Alonzo Horton, who is considered the father of downtown San Diego and who also came from San Francisco, purchased several acres of land on the waterfront and built a wharf, where the convention center sits today. Businesses and people showed up and the area began to thrive.

This surge of growth also attracted less desirable characters. These included prostitutes, thieves, and gamblers. This area became known as the Stingaree because it was said that you were more likely to get “stung” there than by a stingray in the Pacific. One of the people that came to San Diego during that time was Wyatt Earp, who would go on to run three gambling halls in the area. Joining Earp as new to the area was Ida Bailey, who became known as an infamous red-haired, flamboyant Madame of a pale-yellow cottage, dubbed the Canary Cottage.

According to an article on The Horton Grand blog:

Prostitutes at this time were plentiful, but Ida Bailey and her ladies were the aristocracy of the Stingaree. These women dressed as if they were going to an opera every evening. They spoke with sophistication and class, and had parlor conversations with their “gentlemen callers.”
The “fat cats” as they were called, the wealthy, well-known business men of San Diego at that time, were Ida Bailey’s most frequent customers. Being frequented by wealthy and powerful men is what enabled the success and continuation of the Canary Cottage for so long.
Another factor in Ida Bailey’s success was her knack for marketing at the time. She would hire a carriage every Sunday, and take her girls for a drive through residential San Diego. This drive horrified and enraged the decent housewives, but the men thought it was quite entertaining. Some even claim Ida Bailey was the forerunner of outdoor advertising in San Diego.
Raids happened frequently in the Gaslamp, but Ida Bailey was always tipped off in advance. Both the Mayor and the Chief of Police were frequent customers of the Canary Cottage, so it’s no wonder Ida Bailey made it through unscathed most of the time.
Prostitution and gambling flourished in the district until San Diego disclosed that it would host the Panama-California Exposition in 1915. Public officials and business leaders urged police to clean up the Stingaree. In November 1912, officers raided numerous brothels, arresting 138 women who, within days, boarded trains heading out of the city. Over the next few years, there were attempts to clean up the area, most of which failed. In the mid-1970s, downtown property owners and city leaders rallied together to rehabilitate the Gaslamp Quarter this time by endorsing and preserving the district’s historical character. In 1985, the shopping center Horton Plaza marked the revitalization of San Diego’s downtown. Residents soon returned downtown to discover new potential—and with the completion of the city’s waterfront convention center, the modern Gaslamp Quarter was born. Today you will find amazing restaurants, shopping, and amazing hotels, including The Horton Grand Hotel.
The Horton Grand Hotel is unique in the fact that its two historic hotels restored in to one. Originally built in 1887, the Grand Horton was a luxury hotel, built as a result of the city’s first transcontinental railroad connection.
It was designed by a German immigrant who modeled it after the Innsbruck Inn in Vienna, Austria.
The second hotel, the Brooklyn-Kahle Saddlery, was a prominent saddle and harness shop. It was built around the same time as the Grand Horton. It was originally known as the Brooklyn Hotel, but later changed its name for the harness shop on the building’s first floor. Wyatt Earp was a permanent resident at the Brooklyn Hotel during his seven year stay in San Diego. Both hotels were originally located in “respectful” areas and not in the Stingaree District.

Both of the hotels were demolished brick by brick in the 1970’s. Over 10,000 pieces were carefully catalogued and put into storage.
In 1986, the hotels were rebuilt using materials from each, and the present Horton Grand Hotel was born. The 100 year old grand staircase was carefully dismantled and sent to Austria for restoration.
In 1986 workmen took all the brick and structural parts of and combined the two hotels into the beautiful, historical hotel that it is today.
The Ida Bailey restaurant is in the hotel because her Canary Cottage stood on or near where the restaurant stands today.
The Ghosts of the Horton Grand
The Horton Grand is said to be haunted and has several mischievous ghost who apparently don’t want to leave.
One of them is Roger Whittaker and is the spirit that haunts the hotel: room 309 along with the hallway on the same floor. There are two theories on just how Roger died.
The first occurs in 1843, long before the hotel was actually built. The father of Roger’s love and bride-to-be apparently shot and killed Roger, dragging his body to the swamp which used to be located near the property. It is believed by some that when the hotel was built, Roger’s spirit decided to move in!
Other people believe that Roger was caught cheating in a game of cards. He ran back to his hotel hiding in the armoire in room 309. Unfortunately for him, his pursuers had followed him all the way to his room and where he was subsequently shot through the door, dying in the room. Perhaps his body was later taken to the swamp, and he returned to what was his room to find safety?
However he died, what is certain is that Roger haunts room 309 to this day, often making himself visible to guests in the hallway and inside the room. Guests and staff have often referred to the spirit as friendly. On one occasion, a guest witnessed Roger in the hall, mistaking him for a real person; she asked him where the ice machine was. Imagine her surprise as he vanished before her eyes!
There have been reports of all kinds of shenanigans in room 309. Guests have experienced their bed shaking, the armoire doors being opened, things turn on and off, objects move by themselves.
The staff has heard the sounds of someone playing cards inside the room when it is empty and the indentation of a person lying down on a freshly made bed is a common occurrence that is experienced by maids.
Several other ghosts are known to haunt the Horton Grand, including that of Ida Bailey who likes to play tricks on guest in room 209 by knocking on the door. If a female answers nothing is seen. However, if a gentleman answers, Ida is standing in the door, only to slowly fade away.
During our stay, my husband had his own experience. More than once, as he walked toward the elevator, the door would open before he had a chance to call for it. I told him to be polite and say thank you.
One of the photos shows the view from one of the elevators. There is a different display on each floor as you ride it.
Right outside of the Ida Bailey Restaurant in the courtyard, which is where HJK held its cocktail party.
It was a great time. We really enjoy spending social time with those we work so closely with on a regular basis.
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