Also known as the Kockritz Building, built circa 1927
In February 1927, the Stratford Square, originally known as the Kockritz Building, was located at 1442 Camino Del Mar and was the most prominent building in the village. The Kockritz Building was constructed by Herman Kockritz and originally housed a drugstore, soda fountain, grocery store, barbershop, doctor, and dress shop. The building was meant to harmonize in architecture to match the English-style architecture of the Del Mar Hotel and surrounding buildings. The Kockritz Building quickly filled up with eager businessmen. In 1943, the Kockritz building, Del Mar Hotel, and surrounding buildings were purchased by Joseph W. Drown for half a million dollars. Drown immediately gave the building a new coat of paint, eliminating the Old English look. Many years later after the paint was removed, people were surprised to find that the wood and brick were still there. In 1971, Jim Watkins purchased the Kockritz Building, which at the time was heavily rundown. Consisting of ground level shops and second story apartments, it had gained the reputation of being a “hippie haven”. Watkins renovated the building by transforming the rooms upstairs, which had previously been apartments, to quaint little shops and offices, remodeling walls on the lower floors to be a museum of local history, and renaming the building Stratford Square. The Stratford Square Building became a designated historical landmark in 1978. Watkins and his family still own the Stratford Square building, which today houses 2 restaurants and 5 retailers on the first floor with an interior historic museum and offices on the second level. This building is the most iconic structure in Del Mar.
Sources: Del Mar Looking Back by Nancy Ewing, The Del Mar Picture Book by Dr. Lisa Pluth, Discovering Del Mar’s Past by the Del Mar Historical Society, Del Mar Reflections by Bill Arballo, Del Mar Life & Good Times by William Murray.