The Louis Bank of Commerce Building, named for Isador Louis, an enterprising German who rose from cobbler to capitalist, was the first granite building in San Diego. The four story structure housed the Bank of Commerce, a state bank with a capital stock of $500,000. Unlike national banks, the Bank of Commerce loaned money out for real estate ventures. In 1893, Louis opened an oyster bar that because a favorite haunt of Wyatt Earp. The 33 rooms located on the upper floors were rented out as lodging quarters. For a while, a music conservatory occupied the third floor. In its later and poorer years, the Golden Poppy Hotel, a well-known brothel operated by Madam Coara occupied the upper floors of the building. The hotel remained until 1946. In 1947, Ratner Electric moved into the building. It was known as "The House of a Thousand Lights." Mr. Ratner owned the building from 1947 up until recently.
This four story, Baroque Revival building possesses many noteworthy architectural details. It has two, three-sided bay window projections decorated in cast terra cotta and carved wood. Across the front, there is an applied edge-roof frieze of sheet metal. The stone spandrel panels between the second and third floors have a radiating motif carved in them. The stacked molding cornice is visibly supported by scrolled brackets. The building also contains a skylight. Originally the building had twin mansard-roof towers above the cornice. These were surmounted by eagles with outstretched wings. These towers, which have since been restored, were lost in a fire in 1904. The final touch in the restoration, the return of the iron eagles, was accomplished in 2001.
The Louis Bank of Commerce has been completely restored. Many of the original features of the building have been retained such as the handsome banisters, wood paneling and original brick walls. The original tin ceiling is intact on the fourth floor as is a beautiful skylight. The upper floor rooms have been converted to office space.