El Tovar by the Sea is a landmark building on Ocean Avenue that is unique because of its architecture, its history as a luxury Santa Monica apartment building, its location (close proximity to Third Street Promenade and Montana Avenue shops, beaches and bike paths, Palisades Park and running paths), and its views (all units have views of the ocean and Palisades Park).
The building known as El Tovar by the Sea is the result of three distinct architectural building periods;
Classical Revival Style
Original architectural design was a luxury apartment-hotel
Streamlined Moderne Style
Penthouse addition and building renovation
Modified Classical Mediterranean
Major renovation as part of a Condominium Project and re-build following 1994 Northridge earthquake, with a steel structural system.
The building was constructed in 1926-27 as a four-story, 8 luxury unit apartment-hotel. The original design by architect Frank H. Webster was an elegant Classical Revival edifice, replete in applied mouldings and ornamentation. The original name for the building was “Hillsonia,” apparently named after the owner, Mr. Edward M. Hills. By 1936, Mr. C.A. Hamilton had purchased the building and renamed it “El Tovar.” Hamilton proceeded with plans to erect a large, two-story penthouse atop of the original building. This Streamline Moderne style addition was completed in 1937. Hamilton’s architect also was responsible for creating new entrance doors and overhanging canopy for the building’s main entrance in the new architectural style. Conflicting original classically-inspired pediments, urns and other building features were removed form the exterior to accommodate the new design.
During a major renovation completed in 1990, the El Tovar was gutted on the interior and heavily modified on the exterior including new balconies and a new modern entrance canopy. Architect Vito Cetta, AIA (of Haseko/Lewi/Cetta Partnership, developers) prepared plans for a major renovation of the El Tovar and addition of a detached four story building and garage (Building "B") to the site, for the purpose of creating a 22 unit condominium development. Surviving architectural decorative features included the cast concrete balusters at the first floor entrance walkway and corner lower building windows, applied swags, garlands and cartouches, and the Scamozzi-style pilaster capitals.
Following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, the original El Tovar Building "A" was demolished. It was replaced with a new building of steel frame construction, designed to faithfully reproduce the architectural intent of the pre-Northridge Earthquake El Tovar. The apartments were transformed into estate quality residences with the finest of upgrades.
Amenities includes a swimming pool, waterfall and state-of-the-art exercise facility. Everything is nearby, from some of the world’s most elegant designer boutiques, to trendy nightclubs and fabulous restaurants.