When the old Plaza del Mar bathhouse was closed in 1925 as a result of earthquake damage, David and Martha Platt Gray (he was the vice president of the Ford Motor Company) offered the city $100,000 to build a new pavilion and bathhouse at the opposite end of the oceanfront on the condition that the city would furnish it. The city failed to do so, so the Grays built and furnished it on their own and then gave the building to the city in 1927. The visible fruits of their persistence did not go unnoticed. “It was after the completion of the breakwater and the Gray Pavilion,” according to former mayor Patrick Maher, “that the people really began to see the possibilities for developing the waterfront and harbor into the recreational area it is today.”
During World War II, Army Redistribution Headquarters and medical stations were located on the top floor, while the first-floor bathhouse remained open for public use. Throughout the mid-1950s, the Hotel Mar Monte across the boulevard leased the complex from the city and used it as a convention center. It is now an event and rental facility and bathhouse operated by the City Parks & Recreation Department.
City of Santa Barbara Structure of Merit
Excerpted from Santa Barbara: A Guide to El Pueblo Viejo. Published by the Santa Barbara Conservancy, which advocates for historic, architectural, and cultural resources, and available for sale in stores around town and on SBConservancy.com.