This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Originally named the Hotel Californian, this 12-story hotel in central San Francisco has seen some changes. Built in 1923, the building was designed by architect Edward E. Young in Renaissance Revival style with a Spanish Colonial Revival lobby. A 1929 addition altered the exterior to reflect the popular Art Deco style, including pressed metal panels, balconies, and elaborate cornices.
At first, the hotel was an upscale apartment-hotel intended for long-term stays. But when Lizzie Glide purchased the building in 1935, she transformed it into San Francisco’s only temperance hotel. It served no alcohol whatsoever for over 40 years.
Ms. Glide was a devout Methodist and devoted her life to helping others. After the death of her husband, millionaire stock man Joseph Glide, Ms.Glide took over his business, and used her profits to fulfill numerous philanthropic and religious goals.
She moved to Berkeley and commissioned several buildings. The first was the Mary Elizabeth Inn, which still provides safe and affordable housing for working women. Her other enduring projects include a Christian girls’ dormitory on the UC Berkeley campus and the Glide Memorial Methodist Church – located just two blocks from the hotel.
Since 1978, the hotel has changed hands twice, becoming the Serrano hotel and now the Hotel Spero. In April 2018, a top-to-bottom renovation successfully revived the hotel’s original 1923 architecture. The 236-room hotel remains a beloved fixture in the Union Square neighborhood.
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