From the El Cajon Historical Society's website, www.elcajonhistory.org.
El Cajon’s Crown Jewel: The Corona Hotel 1886 - 1920
Times were good! The Southern California Land Boom was in full bloom in the mid-1880’s when Mrs. Anna Stough Knowles conceived the idea of a modern first-class hotel in the midst of the action. Mrs. Knowles was the daughter of Oliver J, Stough, a man of wealth who had made fortunes in real estate from Pacific Beach to Burbank; and it’s a good bet that he was a silent partner in her ‘hospitality’ enterprise. With money at hand, she purchased ten acres on the north side of Main Street at Magnolia, directly across the street from Amaziah Knox’s workaday El Cajon Hotel built ten years earlier.
In 1885, she engaged premier architects, James and Merritt Reid, who were designing and building the luxurious Hotel Del Coronado for Mr. E. S. Babcock, to design her dream hostelry. Fully reflecting the Late Victorian/Queen Anne styling, and occupying a ground space of 40 by 110 feet, the all-wood El Cajon Corona Hotel  offered 40 public and private rooms designed to appeal to a genteel clientele.
Outside, the three-story structure featured an open first floor roofed veranda for walks around the building and access to offices and shops. As time went by those professional and commercial accommodations would include doctors’ offices, a barber shop that offered hot and cold baths, a drugstore, real estate sales offices, a motion picture company headquarters, and a popular billiard parlor.
Balconies on the second and third floors gave guests views of the passing parades of people, carriages, wagons, and, later, those new-fangled automobiles on Main Street. On the roof, a ‘sky veranda’ and a spacious cupola observation tower offered visitors and prospective land buyers unobstructed views all the way to the mountains. Completing the picture, a jaunty weather vane atop the cupola reached 75 feet above the ground and responded to the prevailing breezes.
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