Posted: Monday, Mar 25th, 2013
BY: TODD GUILD
WATSONVILLE — In the days when the streets of Watsonville were not yet paved, when many people used horses as their primary source of transportation and large buildings were virtually unknown, the Appleton Hotel was a source of pride for the city and a vision of the agricultural epicenter Watsonville was to become.
Now, eight years after a massive fire largely destroyed the 101-year-old building, the final stages of the renovation process are falling into place with a ground floor restaurant slated to open in April or May.
Owner Abe Novin in January announced a community-wide contest to name the new business, and lifelong Watsonville resident Gabriel Chavarria’s choice — the Appleton Grill — was the winning selection.
Chavarria said his choice is a nod to the region’s rich agricultural heritage, which reaches around the world.
On a recent trip to China, Chavarria said he saw bottles of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider in a hotel refrigerator. With many fields now growing berries, he said he wanted to help preserve the history of the apple crop that once dominated the region.
“Call me old-fashioned but I feel apples and Watsonville are synonymous,” Chavarria said.
Now known as the Wall Street Inn, the 96-room hotel and theater complex was designed 101 years ago by renowned architect William Weeks after more than 40,000 people attended the city’s Apple Annual festival, a fete meant to celebrate the success of the crop.