Bilasco Theater & La Nola Hotel

Bilasco Theater

During the 1920s, the Bilasco Theater (no longer extant) was built across from the San Ysidro Hotel. While the theater did not show talking moves, there was a music accompaniment played by Nora Youmans. During WWII, the theater was converted to a USO to serve Army and Navy men stationed at Brown Field in nearby Otay Mesa.

The theater was likely replaced by:

148 San Ysidro Blvd. — La Nola Hotel

This two story hotel is located within what historically was the small, tightly grouped commercial district of San Ysidro. This structure does appear on the 1928 Erikson aerial, but does not appear in the San Diego Directories until 1935 (when E.J. Herbert is listed as the manager). No records of the contractor or the architects were located.

As of 1928, the original one acre lot, owned during the Little Landers period by Parker, had been divided into nine smaller lots.

When first constructed, the La Nola was adjacent to the Bilasco Theater, a building that no longer exists, and directly across the street from the extant Commercial Building constructed in 1927. It is highly likely that both these structures and others along San Ysidro Boulevard correspond in time to the construction of Aqua Caliente in Tijuana when residents expected a further increase in visitor traffic in the area.

A brief article from the San Diego Sun supports this idea:

“San Ysidro Port of Entry… Poultry is a thriving industry here as in Chula Vista. Truck gardening is likewise profitable and is cultivated year round. Its permanent population is estimated at 1200. Many new homes and business buidlings have been construct recently…

As was typical of main street development in general, the La Nola abuts the sidewalk and the current 60′ alignment of SanYsidro Boulevard. Prior to commercial construction along this side of the boulevard, San Ysidro Blvd., San Diego Southern Railroad easement and the Little Landers Road encompassed 130 degrees from the north side of the street. Only the front face of the building contains decorative, stylistic elements. Side walls on linear development main streets “are almost always treated in an elementary, utilitarian manner.”

La Nola was built in the Spanish Revival genre. Although two stories and blocky in appearance, Spansih Revival elements were used on the front. The selected elements are more elaborate than those used on the Spansih Eclectic commercial buildings in the area.

The significance of this building lies in its use as a hotel for at least the past 60+ years; its style and location catering to increased traffic in the city of San Ysidro and the thriving gambling industry in Tijuana, Mexico.

At least wo “auto camps” or “motor courts” were constructed in the 1920s to serve the same tourist population during the decades preceding WWII.

Nola Hotel

Cited From: San Ysidro Historic Resources Survey, Conducted for: City of San Diego Planning Department, Conducted by: Roth and Associates, Linda Roth & Judy Berryman, 14 August 1989.


One Response to “Bilasco Theater & La Nola Hotel”

  1. Olivia Mobley AndemJune 28, 2017 at 11:36 pm #

    The theater was the hub of the community during WWII…I saw Gone with the Wind there and many other outstanding films of the day. Newsreel footage of the fighting always brought in a large crowd. One of my favorite memories of thru the late 1940’s.

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