Hotel Carmel

Known As
Kenneth MacDonald
1451 Second Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401

This four-story hotel is a Beaux-Arts design. It has a base, mid-section and cornice, a composition based upon the European Renaissance palace, which in turn were modeled after the classical column with a base, shaft and capital. For 1928, this was a conservative architectural style, as the more modern Art Deco style was fashionable at this time.

Architectural features of this building are:

  • Rectangular massings.
  • Stucco cladding which is scored to simulate cut stone blocks.The ground floor bays are divided by wide Tuscan pilasters.
  • The hotel entry has a projecting marquee that is not original, although the engaged columns flanking the door may be. The original marquee was similarly hung.
  • The cornice at the roofline is accented with terracotta lions head medallions over each bay.

The windows are not original but are replacements.  The interior lobby retains some of its original architectural features, and is more ornate than the sober exterior.

Here the architectural theme is Spanish revival. The fireplace and the columns are decorated with high relief ornament of floral scrolls. Medieval heraldic motifs appear in the fireplace. The beamed ceiling is supported on large decorative corbels, a Spanish revival motif. The architect was evoking old world charm, and didn’t mind mixing different architectural traditions.

On portions of the lower lobby wall, the wide frieze and rectangular piers are also probably original.  The chandelier and the Arts-and-Crafts furnishings attempt to recapture a historical style, but not the one represented by this hotel’s period or its architecture. This hotel has remained in its original use over the years, and exemplifies a small scale urban hotel for downtown Santa Monica in the 1920s.  Its location was close to downtown’s commercial district as well as to the beach and the pier.

During the 1930s it was a favorite retreat for Hollywood film stars.