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History

Hotel De Anza - Historic image

The historic Hotel De Anza opened its doors to the public 70 years ago, during the heart of the Depression, on February 26, 1931. The original concept of the hotel began in 1929 after the West Santa Clara Development Association planned to build one of the only “first class hotels” in San Jose. The original architect of the De Anza, H.H. Weeks, designed the 144-room hotel to be built at a cost of $505,000 – 1/20 of what it cost to restore the Hotel De Anza in the late 80′s and early 90′s. Together with builder Carl Swenson, the construction of the 10-story building was completed in just one year.

The Hotel De Anza became a renowned addition to a city once recognized for its productive agriculture. Built amongst the cherry and plum orchards, the hotel brought a certain fashionable decor and level of lifestyle. Luminaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt, The DuPonts, Henry Kaiser, Jack Dempsey, Susan Hayward, Paulett Goddard and Fred MacMurray, were just some of the legendary guests of that era to visit the De Anza.

Some of the nostalgia that makes the Hotel De Anza such a unique historical, architectural and social landmark still exists today. The beloved 25-foot “diving lady” was originally painted on the West side of the building in 1951 to promote the hotel’s heated pool. Her body type was conceptualized from the infamous frames of “Barbie” and Ester Williams and remains a local attraction today. The rooftop neon sign carries as much notoriety as the famed diver. Originally, the hotel was to be called “The San Jose Hotel” but was later changed to “Hotel De Anza” after the explorer who first discovered the Santa Clara Valley in 1776, Juan Bautista de Anza. The ceilings in the Hedley Club Lounge and De Anza room were renovated for the reopening and are exact duplications of what the polychrome overheads were in their origin. The hotel’s terracotta, earth tone and peach exterior has also been restored to a likeness of what it was in its beginning.

In the early 70′s, the hotel lost its luster and faded into the background and was almost torn down. Luckily cooler heads and fonder hearts prevailed. The San Jose Redevelopment Agency decided to save the historical and architectural value of the Hotel De Anza. Saratoga Capital was then chosen as the new re-development company. With the ingenious architectural and contracting capabilities of Ken Rodrigues and Barry Swenson (son of original contractor), the preservation of the hotel’s historical elements began. The results, a new-age modern look and feel.

On October 31, 1990 the signature “Hotel De Anza” neon sign was relighted for the grand re-opening of the hotel and the promise of a new history for us all.

 

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