By Jake Romero | Gaslamp Landmarks
The building currently occupying the address at 515 Fifth Ave., Downtown, was once home to the Manila Café and the Owl Hotel.
Over the years, it has housed many businesses, including the Mandarin Café (1931 to 1933), a restaurant operated by Stanley Ming (1935 to 1938), and the Kid Jerome Billiard Hall (1940 to 1943).
This structure has a unique architectural style within the district. At first glance, the architecture appears to draw inspiration from Asian influences, but upon further inspection, other details come to attention.
The roof utilizes common red adobe tiles of the type used on Spanish-styled roofs. However, rather than rounding into the typical Espadana (bell gabled) design, the roof displays the convex taper of an Asian roof, complete with spiral decorative attachments of concrete construction on both corners of the building.
A small porch separates the first and second floors and runs across the front of the building supported by three concrete brackets and two additional concrete spiral columns. Decorative window treatments with horizontal rows of 1-foot square panes run along the upper story.
In 2014, this building received a new tenant and modifications to the exterior were made. However, the upper story, with its distinctive roof, remains intact.
—Jake Romero is the director of operations of the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, located at 410 Island Ave., Downtown, in the historic Davis-Horton House. For more information visit gaslampfoundation.org.