A plea for ‘Lady Valencia’


By Eva Ewing

La Jolla resident

When my father, Gifford Ewing, bought the majority interest in the La Valencia Hotel in 1946, I was only 10 years old. We were all charmed by the two tile murals, we called “the Lady Valencias.”

One still remains in the garden terrace below. The lady of the front patio was once connected to a fountain. The reflection from the water shimmered across a portrait of the most detailed mantilla-adorned elegant lady that ever looked down upon the likes of a young girl of 10. I can assure you no one who dined before her eyes ever met with her haughty approval. She came from a time long gone and challenged us all to be her equal, yet welcomed us. She greeted all who came and she set the tone for the historic Spanish Revival era she celebrated that was the romantic focus of those who built the hotel in 1926.

When my father sold his major interest to his partners in the early 1980s, the hotel came under the capable leadership and tasteful hands of Harry Collins. For well over two decades he has added magical elegance worthy of the critical eye of “Lady Valencia.” Mr. Collins is now involved in new challenges that take up his time.

I sincerely hope management and ownership will revive “Lady Valencia” and other patio decor worthy of the Spanish Revival that was a focus for La Valencia’s designation as a historic landmark in 1987. The La Valencia is where we all go to touch a gracious spirit that helps us for a moment, escape the world outside.