• 619.435.7242
  • 1100 Orange Avenue, Coronado CA 92118

Oct. 17, 2024 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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Wine & Lecture: The Sugar King of California

October 17 - October 17, 2024

Coronado Historical Association
1100 orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118

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The Coronado Historical Association is excited to invite you to a unique look at the life of Claus Spreckels, told by award-winning author Sandra E. Bonura. Join us as we delve into the story of someone facing impossible odds to rise from grinding poverty to enormous wealth. After emigrating from his homeland of Germany to the United States with only seventy-five cents in his pocket, Claus Spreckels built a sugar empire and became one of the richest Americans in history alongside John D. Rockefeller, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates. The indomitable Spreckels was a colorful and complicated character on both sides of the Pacific. A kingpin in the development of the Hawai‘i-California sugarcane industry, he wielded a clenched fist over Hawai‘i’s economy for nearly two decades after occupying a position of unrivaled power and political influence with the Hawaiian monarchy, while also advancing major technology developments on the islands. Sandra E. Bonura discusses the rags-to-riches story of Spreckels’s role in the development of the sugarcane industry in the American West and across the Pacific. Harshly criticized by his enemies for ruthless business tactics but loved by his employees, he was unapologetic in his quest for wealth, asserting “Spreckels’s success is California’s success.” However, his single-minded determination resulted in the legendary family quarrels. Dr. Bonura’s book, The Sugar King of California will be available for purchase.

Important Registration Information: Capacity is limited and reservations are required. No walk-ins will be admitted.

If you have any questions please email info@coronadohistory.org or call (619) 435-7242.

Author Bio:
Dr. Sandra Bonura is a native San Diegan who spent her childhood in Coronado while her mother worked here. She has worked with the Coronado Historical Association as a docent and served as the guest curator for its 2018 exhibit John D. Spreckels: The Man/The Legacy.  Dr. Bonura is a historian, researcher, and writer and has taught in higher education for more than twenty years. An authority on Hawaii, Dr. Bonura is a frequent storyteller and lecturer on the importance of using a multitude of primary sources to gain perspective on historical events. She is also a part-time professor at Azusa Pacific University, training school counselors and psychologists.
In addition to The Sugar King of California, Dr. Bonura is the award-winning author of five published works based on primary sources: Empire Builder: John D. Spreckels and the Making of San Diego; (2020 University of Nebraska Press); Light in The Queen's Garden: Ida May PopePioneer for Hawai'i's Daughters (2017, University of Hawaii Press); "Queen Lili'uokalani's Beloved Kawaiaha'o Seminary," (2017 Hawaiian Journal of History (vol. 51)); "Lydia K. Aholo-Her Story, Recovering the Lost Voice" (2013 Hawaiian Journal of History (vol. 47)); and An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands: Letters of Carrie Prudence Winter 1890-1893 (2012 University of Hawaii Press).  

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Join us and help preserve and share Coronado's unique and wonderful history with intriguing exhibits and innovative programs for all ages.


  • Two complimentary tickets to our Historic Walking Tour of Coronado
  • Invites to members-only events
  • ...and much more!
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