The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Winter 1985, Volume 31, Number 1
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor
San Diego Building & Loan first did business at a desk in this real estate office at 809 Fifth Avenue. The individual in the center of the photograph is Theodore Fintzelberg, an early director whose son became a director in 1953 and still serves in 1985 as director emeritus.
Small boys liked to play with their sailboats in the plaza fountain when the manager of the Horton House across D Street (now Broadway) didn’t run out and scare them away. In 1985, Horton Plaza is undergoing restoration, as is the U.S. Grant on the Horton House site.
In the mid-eighties, the center of harbor activity was the Pacific Mail Wharf (earlier known as Horton’s Wharf) at the foot of Fifth Street. Lumber schooners are seen in the bay and a coastal steamer lies alongside the dock.
Alonzo E. Horton built his magnificent home in 1885, on First Street, two blocks west of W. W. Bowers’ Florence Hotel, Appearing with Horton is probably his first wife, the former Sarah Babe, whom he married in 1860 and who was killed in a carriage accident in 1889.
Leach’s Opera House was an entertainment center in 1885, featuring such diverse attractions as “Faust” and Mlle. La Selle, “the wonderful water queen.” Located on what is now Broadway, between First and Second Streets, it later became known as the D Street Theatre.
Kate O. Sessions, second from left, posed for this picture with her fellow faculty members at Russ School on March 27, 1885. Soon therafter, she moved to San Gabriel; but by the end of the year she had become part owner of the San Diego Nursery at Fifth and A.
A company of soldiers stands in 1889 on the parade grounds of the U.S. Army barracks at the foot of H Street (now the corner of Market and Kettner), in front of eucalyptus trees that had been purchased earlier from the nursery taken over by Kate O. Sessions in 1885.
This building on the northeast corner of Fifth and F Streets was shared by Marston’s store and the real estate office of Morse, Noell, and Whaley at 809 Fifth Street. Here, the first organizational meetings of San Diego Building & Loan were held early in 1885. The building still stands in the Gaslamp Quarter.
San Diego’s fire department in 1885 was located on Fifth Street (now Avenue) between D (Broadway) and C Streets. Some San Diego Building & Loan directors were members of this volunteer group.
The Mush and Milk Society held its meetings in the Rectory of the Episcopal Church, pictured here.
Moses A. Luce, first counsel to the San Diego Building & Loan Association is pictured at left.
Captain and Mrs. Matthew Sherman, photographed in 1884. He was the first president of San Diego Building and Loan; she was the first schoolteacher in New Town.
This is San Diego in 1884, the year before the founding of Great American’s predecessor, San Diego Building & Loan. The view is southwest from the corner of Seventh and Ash, just one block north of Great American’s current San Diego headquarters.
The transcontinental railroad came to San Diego in 1885, but the first depot, shown here, was not completed until 1887.
The first entry in the original minute book of San Diego Building & Loan is shown above, dated, July 11, 1885.
In 1887, Theodore Fintzelberg became secretary and managing officer of San Diego Building & Loan. Above is a photo of the office at 961 Fourth Street in which Fintzelberg & Steinmetz was located. The insurance firm, still in business in 1985, was founded in 1886.
San Diego Building & Loan’s second location was a couple of blocks from the first, at 759 Sixth Street in the old “Express Block.”
In 1951, San Diego Federal built its own headquarters building at the southeast corner of Sixth & A. This office was demolished in 1974, upon completion of San Diego Federal’s new building.
The 53-year old association had changed its name to San Diego Federal Savings and Loan by 1938, when this picture was taken of the new office at 1027 Sixth Avenue in the heart of a thriving downtown San Diego.
Great American’s present main office, at 600 B Street. Even though the Great American office network now extends to many areas of California and lending operations are conducted throughout the nation, headquarters have always remained in downtown San Diego.
Built just four years after the founding of San Diego Building & Loan, the B Street School was built on the future site of Great American’s present main office, at 600 B Street (above).
In 1930, Great American already had served San Diegans for 45 years under its original name of San Diego Building & Loan Association. Seven years later the word “Federal” was added and “Building” became “Savings.” Just last year the name became Great American First Savings Bank.