Over the last 126 years, it has served presidents, politicians and Hollywood icons, but the San Gorgonio Inn will soon be demolished.
Even if you have never stopped there, you have surely seen its sign from Interstate 10, worn now by time.
News of its demise has created quite a buzz in the city of Banning, and everyone seemed to have an opinion.
“It is a historic building obviously,” Banning Resident Alan Wilson said. “But its a pretty expensive piece of real estate to just be sitting there doing nothing.”
“I would like to see it refurbished and brought back to life because it would just add more into the old quaint Banning old style living,” Suzanna Ronquillo, from the Banning Chamber of Commerce, said.
“Well, I just felt that they don’t have any respect for history,” Bud Mathewson said.
Mathewson owns a local department store and has lived in Banning for 53 years.
“It has quite the history,” Mathewson said. “And if you knew the history, you really wouldn’t want to tear it down. You can save it. Save the signs. There just has to be something that can be done.”
Banning Mayor Bob Botts remembered going to the San Gorgonio Inn 60 years ago.
“I came here when I was 10 years old,” Botts said. “My folks came out from San Bernardino and we would eat right there at San Gorgonio Inn, a lot.”
The Inn changed ownership several times over the years. It closed four years ago, and the city bought it in 2008.
The original building was built in 1884, at which time it was called the Bryant House.
Over the years, it was hit by a fire and faced numerous remodels, so the building is not considered a historical place.
The location is.
“The deterioration, the no foundation, the way it was built originally, it would just be many many millions of dollars to try and to restore it, and then what would you really have?” Botts said.
Current plans called for the property to eventually become a retail development called Paseo San Gorgonio. That would likely coincide with the $60 million Mid-County Justice Center slated to open in 2013 one block away.
“I guess my goal would be we have a San Gorgonio Inn of some type,” Botts said. “Probably not this building but the same kind of thing that everyone has, the gathering place.”
Last month the city council voted to move ahead with demolition, and it could happen by the end of August.
Crews made plans to tear it down and repave the area to be a parking lot.