The Coronado Historical Association is honored to host historian Dr. Sandra Bonura on December 3rd for a special free virtual Wine & Lecture. Dr. Bonura will be sharing the stories behind the man and the legacy of John D. Spreckels, from her newest book, Empire Builder: John D. Spreckels and the Making of San Diego.
Empire Builder is the previously untold story of a pioneer who almost single-handedly transformed the bankrupt village of San Diego into a thriving city. When he first dropped anchor in San Diego Bay on a warm June day in 1887, John Diedrich Spreckels set into motion a series of events that later defined the city. Within just a few years, this son of the German immigrant Claus Spreckels, known as the “Sugar King,” owned and controlled the majority of San Diego’s industry by demanding advanced techniques of building construction, water supply management, and energy production, as well as improvements in transportation—particularly by ship, rail, electric streetcar, and automobile.
John D. Spreckels helped develop Coronado into a thriving resort town at the turn of the century. Revered, but not without controversy, his legacy is in Coronado’s cultural heritage and architectural remnants. Somewhat of an elusive figure, the only “biography” of Mr. Spreckels’s life was commissioned by him. The biography, entitled, The Man, was inspiration for CHA’s 2018 exhibit curated by Dr. Bonura, The Man, The Legacy.
Dr. Bonura’s mother worked at North Island for her entire career, so Coronado played an important role for her while growing up. She is a frequent storyteller and lecturer on the importance of using a multitude of primary sources to gain perspective on historical events. A well-known Hawaii historian, Dr. Bonura’s books include Light in the Queen’s Garden: Ida May Pope, Pioneer for Hawai’i’s Daughters and Queen Lili’uokalani’s Beloved Kawaiaha’o Seminary.
After working with CHA to create the exhibit and to dispel some myths, Dr. Bonura found that she had barely scratched the surface of the man. So over the next few years, she worked with archival records and through interviews of the Spreckels family to write her latest book, Empire Builder, as the first comprehensive biography of John D. Spreckels. CHA will also be hosting members of the Spreckels family on the webinar, so participants will get even more insider stories.
CHA hopes to return to in-person history programming in 2021, but, in the meantime, we will continue to offer interesting virtual programming. And, of course, we will continue our work to preserve Coronado’s unique history. We are always here to help with your history questions, so keep us in mind.
Registration for the ZOOM webinar is now open. Follow this link to register for the ZOOM webinar: https://bit.ly/32YeEiy.
The lecture will also be streamed through Facebook Live. The Facebook Live video can be found by going to the Facebook event page at facebook.com/coronadomuseum BYOB to this free virtual lecture.
Signed copies of Dr. Bonura’s Empire Builder are available for purchase at the CHA Store. Order online at www.coronadohistory.org. Get your copy today!