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The Sofia Hotel
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The Sofia has been inducted into the National Trust Historic Hotels of America for the preservation of the hotel's heritage. Sofia and her employees have worked hard to maintain her historic charm. Please help us in preserving her history by looking through Sofia's historical timeline. To save or print a version of Sofia's historical timeline please click the link below

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Sofia's History SOFIA - A History . Edge

1915 San Diego-based stagecoach company, Limited Imperial Valley Stage Line, changes its name to the Pickwick Stage Lines and moves its station to the lobby of the old Pickwick Theater on the east side of Fourth Street, north of Broadway.

1922 After the introduction of the Model T Ford automobile limits traditional horse-based coach travel, the owners of the Pickwick Stage Line sell the business to new owners who retain the Pickwick name for the combined system.

1926 The Pickwick Corporation expands into the hotel business and opens its first hotel in downtown San Francisco near Union Square. The hotel, still in operation today, was hailed as a classic example of Neo Gothic architecture and was later featured prominently in Dashiell Hammett's popular mystery novel, "The Maltese Falcon."

Sofia's History

1927 Another Pickwick Hotel opens its doors in San Diego at First and Broadway in May. With two towers and Neo Gothic styling, the two-tower motor hotel is regarded as one of the most luxurious hotels in the city at the time. The first hotel in San Diego to be built with "en suite" bathrooms, its marketing slogan was "A Room and a Bath for Two and a Half."

1928 Two additional hotel towers open to the public, completing the 230-room Pickwick Hotel San Diego. The Pickwick Corporation buys San Diego radio station KFBC and forms the Pickwick Broadcasting Corporation. George Bowles is installed as Vice President and Manager of the station and the call letters are changed to KGB to reflect his name. Studios and transmitters are moved to the Pickwick Terminal Hotel Building at the corner of First and Broadway, where the station remained until 1944. Twin radio towers are constructed on top of the two outside towers.

1929 Pickwick Stages officially merges with Greyhound, as do other lines, to form the Greyhound Corporation.

Sofia's History

Early 1930s Under the Pickwick ownership, the station uses a variety of slogans to promoto their identity. Among those KGB uses during this time are "The Voice of Sunny San Diego." Pickwick Broadcasting Corporation later formed a three-station chain including KNRC in Los Angeles and KTAB in San Francisco.

1933 Lincoln Dellar becomes station manager of KGB, and during his tenure, the staff included neophyte broadcaster, Arthur Gordon Linkletter. Linkletter was first an announcer in 1933, while he was still a student at SDSU. At KGB, Art Linkletter originated the "Man on the Street" shows, which, according to the Journal of San Diego History, "began the deluge of audience participation shows of all kinds-quiz, stunt, and talk."

1935 Linkletter becomes program director of KGB.

1936 Linkletter becomes station manager. At this time the station is, according to the Journal of San Diego History, "On the first two floors of the Pickwick Hotel, entering from the side street off Broadway to the reception and business office, then upstairs to a large broadcast studio and compact announcer's booth."

Sofia's History

Late 1930s In a bid to become the premier radio station for invalids and shut-ins, "Music for the Sick," is broadcast. Shows in later years included a popular program for the physically disabled and a program braodcast entirely by blind persons reading from a Braille script.

1944 KGB moves its station to 1017 Frist Avenue after 16 years at the Pickwick Hotel.

1940s The Pickwick Hotel remains a popular tourist hotel and nightspot, with the Piccadilly Lounge popular among guests and residents alike.

1950 Downtown is changing and the bus operation expands to occupy both ground floor corners of The Pickwick Hotel. Also at this time, the San Diego City Council requires that decorative architectural elements be removed from all buildings to prevent potential injury and casualty during an earthquake. But the building retains sufficient historic fabric to embody the distinctive characteristics of its Gothic Revival sytle of architecture and survives to be the only public building of its style remaining in San Diego.

Sofia's History

1956-1986 Downtown San Diego is losing its popularity as a retail and entertainment destination as these types of venues begin to move elsewhere in the city. Under a new operator with a 30-year lease, the Pickwick Hotel begins to show signs of age.

1986 Ken Winslow and Harki Parekh, co-general partners of Pickwick Partners, Ltd., purchase the Pickwick Hotel and their partnership assumes management of the property.

1986-2000 Pickwick Partners, Ltd. systematically undertakes renovations of the property to slowly bring the hotel back into repair. The process takes years as hotel earnings are funneled back into the property.

Sofia's History

2000-2004 San Diego Padres' Petco Park, is excavated, constructed, and opened; and thousands of residential condominiums are built, sold and occupied ushering in a boom of downtown revitalization. Retailers, restauranteurs and commercial builders pour back into downtown neighborhoods, bringing an exciting period of much-needed stabilization to downtown San Diego.

2005 After 20 years of ownership, Pickwick Partners sees the right opportunity to renovate the hotel, which inevitably contributes to the revitalization of downtown's West End neighborhood. With the hotel's distinctly urban configuration and a growing appreciation in hospitality for chic boutique properties and individually tailored guest services, the hotel's owners begin a major $16 million renovation.

2006 On January 16 renovations begin and the Pickwick Hotel closes. A grand re-opening is planned for December 2006 as The Sofia Hotel.

Historic Hotels of America
Preserving the Sofia's Heritage
The Sofia Hotel is a proud member of the National Trust
Historic Hotels of America. Find out more on our History page.

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