The YMCA building in the distance remains. MTS buses look different. And the Art Deco bowling alley across the street is long gone.
In 1909, Amy Strong, a famous San Diego dress designer, hired master builders Emmor Brooke Weaver and John Vawter to build her dream ranch house. They lived and worked on site from tents where they drew renderings and blueprints.
The home was completed by 1921. The Strong home is just off the road to Ramona at the base of Mount Woodson (Potato Chip Rock). It embodies the vision of this artistic woman, the talents of her architects, and the philosophy of the Craftsman Movement.
Roof tiles are supported on a concrete roof sustained by rock buttresses. The tiles are purportedly from the San Gabriel Mission. Inside and out the home has a truly organic and hand made feel to it.
It’s a split level home with exposed eaves – troughs hewn from unfinished eucalyptus trunks supported by gargoyle figures.
Eclectic motifs throughout were taken from Persian, Arabic and Oriental rug designs chosen for the home. Interior use of wood included lightly polished redwood planks recycled from vats for many of the doors and mantels, beams, and balustrades of twisted eucalyptus.
Other building materials of the main house included oak, rocks, flagstone, adobe, bricks and tiles, plaster, concrete and stucco.
No chalk lines were used in the construction. There are no perfect corners and neither the roof nor floors are level.
Eucalyptus was cut from stands that dotted the property. Rocks were individually hand-picked by Mrs. Strong for their shapes and colors from the slopes of Mt. Woodson.
Mrs. Strong, her niece and their cook, did much of the painting and design-work themselves, inspired by Persian, Arabic and Oriental rug designs.
Light fixture and stencil detail
The Zodiac Room. The ideals of this masterpiece emphasized harmony between the individual and the environment, intense involvement of the artists with their materials, and the blending of the primitive with the sophisticated.
The 27-room Emmor Brooke Weaver and John Vawter adobe and stone structure was completed after five years and $50,000 of 1921 currency.
Light Fixture Detail
Upper Level Passage Way
Light and Stencil Detail
“The Castle” is a multi-level, twenty-seven room 12,000 square foot home with eight foot thick walls, a Great Hall with a sixteen foot ceiling, a swing porch, pantry, four fireplaces, a dutch oven, dumb waiter, complete intercom system.
Mrs. Strong left natural, oak, and pine exposed; other woods were painted or polished. Some of the original floors and stairs were flagstone and a few of the floors were oak planks.
Main Entrance Detail
The goal was integrate and unify the rock and tree studded surroundings with both the exterior and interior of the home.
The finished exterior, the stone work, windmill, bricks and tiles, and arches reflect French, Dutch, Spanish, and Medieval styles. Roof tiles are supported on a concrete roof sustained by rock buttresses. Aztec, Greek, Roman, North American, and Oriental crafts, decorate the house inside and out.
The windmill is gasoline-engine-assisted. It pumped water from the springs to redwood storage tanks and the room under the windmill was used to cool meats and vegetables.
The site today in Romona is used for conferences, weddings and other functions spurred by the nearby golf course.
That relatively small sign on a wooden post reads “Scripps Cove Park.” Documents show that in 1887 it was designated as La Jolla Park. It was also known as La Jolla Shoreline Park. Those names changed on October 18, 1927 – the 91st of birthday of La Jolla and San Diego regional philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps – when San Diego Park Commissions dedicated the park to her and renamed it the Ellen Browning Scripps Park. It was, in a manner of speaking a ceremonial renaming. An official change came in 1961 when it was designated in the charter as Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Park.
Besides being one of the most actively used parks, especially for one so relatively small, it is one of our great cultural landscapes with it’s nature growth of tress and shrubs. The “soldier row” of Mexican palms, the twisted and turning Australian tea trees, and the single-trunk dragon trees.
With a look to the future new plantings of the Mexican fan palms are spaced between their elders as the life expectancy of those historic trees draws nearer. A gift that will keep giving for generations to come.
Special thanks to Historian and Researcher Vonn Marie May for her discussion with me about one of her passions. Historic landscapes. I’ve included her article from La Jolla Historical Society TimeKeeper newsletter below.
I attended the artist’s reception on that night of February 13, 1980. I’d known Belle since 1974/1975. I met her through my school mates David and Erik Swanson. And through their grandmother Alice Sue Hardin, grandfather John Byrd Hardin, grand aunt Ettilie Wallace, and parents Anthony and Peter Swanson.
I probably can’t count the number of family dinners, birthdays, and holidays I shared with this family with Belle right there too. Being I was the teenager with a car I was often tapped to give Belle a ride to here or there on occasion. She loved to hear me play tapes of Bach while driving along.
Belle was part of that dynamic cultural pool of talent in San Diego during the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond. She knew Lloyd Ruocco, Sim Bruce Richards, Dan Dickey, Donal Hord, James Hubbell, Phil Foster – just to name a few. My list is no where near comprehensive.
As a young teenager I’d hear these names a lot. Saw some of these individualsÂ come and go, particularly at Ettilie Wallace’s house where I twice had a room there. It wasn’t until later in life I began to fully appreciate thatÂ they weren’t your average circle of friends.
Bell had a hearty infectious laugh. Great sense of humor.
All along the long halls of the County Administration building hung Belle’s work. I remember Ettilie Wallace had devoted a lot of her time and energy putting this show together.
I asked Erik at what point in his life did he realize BelleÂ was such a great and important artist. “Tonight,” he said.
And she knew James Britton.
This is a scan from the Sunday November 17, 1985 San Diego Union article written by Kay Kaiser.
A site I remember exploring with my mom and dad in 1966 or 1967. La Jolla was a favorite place for us to explore back then. Still is.
To view larger version of any image or scanned text, just click on it.
Wednesday November 22, 1939 “To the Paramount – Garbo in Ninotchka – good. Bought 2,000 tissues – Nite library. Read till 11:30.
Thursday November 23, 1939 “Thanksgiving Day. Moved ahead a week early this year by the President. Jeanne and Duke to the Poly – Lowell game. Sam and I on the grandest ride down the coast to Half Moon Bay. Back through the Redwoods and Skyline Boulevard. Perfect warm day. At nite Jeanne and Duke to two shows. Sam and I read. I shampooed, etc.”
Anderson Design Group
Friday November 24, 1939 “Jeanne and I to town – to Newsreel Theatre. Nite – Sam and I to town and window Shopped. Saw a big fire at Front and Pine Street. Took cable car home.
Saturday November 25, 1939 “Rained last night. but nice today. Picked up Sam at Jac’s. Rode with Tony in afternoon. Big Game today – University of Clarita 32 – Standford 14. Nite at home and read.”
From the San Francisco Municipal Record.
Jacopetti’s – Speciatiling in the Finest TURKEY SANDWICHES
Ham, Cheese, Sardine, etc. — Free Buffet Lunch
Beverages — Full Line — Rainier Beer
No. 1 Columbus Avenue, corner Washington
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF.
E. JACOPETTI, GArfield 6498 J. CASSINELLI ,GArfield 9260Guessing that Number one Columbus Ave was on the right. This is looking from where the Transamerica building is today.
Sunday November 26, 1939 “It was a grand day. Tony, Duke, Jeanne, Sam and I to Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Mark West Springs – Perfect! Country gorgeous Autumn coloring. Saw a car over a cliff near a bridge. Nite – Hi Balls and Radio. Duke was here.
Monday November 27, 1939 “Swell day. Cleaned house and went to town. Letter from Irene – Mack in jail! Nite – answered Irene’s letter.”
Tuesday November 28, 1939 “Sent suit to Sara and things to Irene. Walked along Land’s End Cliffs with cat on a leash. Gorgeous day.
Built in 1953 as the Big Donut Drive In this Los Angeles landmark is an example of programatic/thematicÂ architecture that was once a rage in Southern California. An architecture related to roadside convenience for freeway laden modern society. There’s a great bookÂ by Jim Heimann and Rip Geoges about this type of architecture titled California Crazy – Roadside Vernacular Architecture. Chronicling the times when architecture was allowed to be distinctive and fun.
Diary of Helen Hussey
Shopping along Fillmore Street and the New Fillmore Hotel on the right. Image source: http://newfillmore.com “The New Fillmore – The Latest News From The Heart And Soul Of San Francisco.” Robert F. Oaks the the author of the Arcadia published “San Francisco’s Filmore District.” https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/9780738529882/San-Franciscos-Fillmore-District
Wednesday November 8, 1939 “Went to the bank and post office. Money Order came from Ruth McKales. Sent receipt and final payment on tires! Matinee at the Alexandria. Nite – Sam and I to Fillmore to buy dinner for tomorrow. Bought some Port.
On the marquee “Tea And Sympathy” starring Deborah Kerr. It was released November 5, 1956. Image source: Richmond Street Blog
From Cinema Treasures
The Alexandria Theatre opened on November 26, 1923 with Douglas MacLean in â€œGoing Up.â€ It was built at a cost of $350,000 by Oppenheimer & (Alex) Levin; Reid Brothers were the architects. From the beginning, it was one of the Richmond district’s leading second-run theaters.
In 1941, it underwent extensive remodeling, emerging totally Moderne, with only the original stone pillars on its corner facade still exhibiting evidence of its original Egyptian roots.
It re-opened on June 19, 1942, but due to wartime blackout restrictions, much of its new neon elegance had to be subdued until sometime later. In the late-1950’s it was upgraded to a first run 70MM, reserved seat policy premiering such roadshow attractions as South Pacific (48 weeks), Exodus (20 weeks), Can Can (19 weeks), El Cid (21 weeks), The Longest Day (19 weeks),Cleopatra (56 weeks) & Oliver! (43 weeks).
On November 24, 1976, it re-opened as Alexandria 3, with the former balcony and loge sections converted into two separate, smaller auditoriums, but with the original downstairs section more or less intact.
Beneath the remodeling, rumor has it that the original dome and atmospheric ceiling still exists, retaining its twinkling lights, or at least the sockets, and that behind the bland walls of the lobby one can still see lotus-topped columns and colorful hieroglyphics.
The theater closed in the beginning of 2004 and its future is uncertain.
The Golden Gate Theater
Image Source: Amazon
Thursday November 9, 1939 “To town and bought shirts and shorts for Sam. Went to the Golden Gate and saw the
Marx Ritz Brothers. Very funny. Marc out with Sam for dinner. Phil stopped in tonight.”
Friday November 10, 1939 “Busy morning. Shampoo and bathed Bijou. Washed, shopped, etc. Walked in the park. Nite met Sam and dinner at Hotel Espanol. Stopped at Tony’s. She’s not feeling so well. Home and port. Sam doesn’t have to work tomorrow. Found a parking ticket on the car. Pacific.
Hotel Espanol was at 719 Broadway. There is no 719 there anymore – probably demo’ed. The highest number on the corner building goes to 715. The peach color stucco building next to it is number 777. Google maps points to the empty space of an alley for 719. Nothing there.
Saturday November 11, 1939 “Jeanne and I to town. Had to walk from Civic Center on account of the Armistice Day parade. Bought new hat, sweater for Jeanne. Nite Ruth and Bill came in. Quite a binge. They brought a bike, etc.”
Sunday November 12, 1939 “Tony, Jeanne, Ruth, Duke, and I to see Winchester House. Picnic in San Jose – lot of fun. Beautiful country. Home about 3:30. Nite gabbed and beer. Bed about 11:30.
Monday November13, 1939 “Ruth and Bill left about 9. Met Tony at 5 and to the Palace Hotel. Saw Boys of Brazil band. To Jacopetti’s for sandwiches. Then to the Curran – first night of Taming of the Shrew, Lunt and Fontaine. Swell!!
Tuesday November 14, 1939 “Ironed in the morning. Then shopped, library, and walked Bijou in the park. Afternoon and Nite, Read + Radio.”
It was a building inspired by a vision of the 21st century depicted in an 1888 novel. Then 94 years later was depicted in a film vision of the 21st century.
Image: Creative Commons
The street view doesn’t quite reveal the characteristics of a future vision. The building’s facade is clearly an Italian Rennaissance Revial, Romanesque Revival design of its time (1894).
Image: Creative Commons
You might walk by without ever knowing what lies beyond the arched entry.
Image: Creative Commons
But the inside – that’s another story. It was the shared dream of two men. Lewis Bradbury who had a specific philosophy and ideas of what he wanted built. And the young man whom Bradbury met – they shared that philosophy and those ideas. He was George Herbert Wyman – who wasn’t even an architect, but draftsman by trade. Their common vision stemmed from a futuristic novel called Looking Backward 1887 – 2000 by George Herbert Wyman.
Image: Creative Commons
Bellamy’s futuristic structures in Looking Backward were described as “vast halls filled with light.” The Bradbury building has a glass roof which baths the entire central portion of the interior in daylight. The railings, balconies and supporting columns are made of iron. The resulting effect is a suspended, floating illusion of interior elements.
It stands as one of the most distinctive and remarkable interiors of any office building ever constructed.
Images: Creative Commons
The Bradbury interiors inspired by a Utiopian future depicted in Looking Backward by Edward Belamy.
The building not only attracted the producers of Blade Runner. There have been dozens of other Film, Television, and Commercial productions that have used the Bradbury Building as a set.
Image: Dan Soderberg
Louis Bradbury died before his building was complete. His dedication to creating his lasting legacy notwithstanding, even he likely wouldn’t dare imagine how the building would continue to inspire and fascinate well into the 21st century.
The Bradbury Building is located on Broadway at 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA
Lunt and Fontanne,Â American husband-and-wife acting team who performed together in more than two dozen theatrical productions, from Sweet Nell of Old Drury (1923) to The Visit (1958). Alfred Lunt (b. Aug. 19, 1892,Â Milwaukee, Wis., U.S.â€”d. Aug. 3, 1977,Â Chicago, Ill.) and Lynn Fontanne (original name Lillie Louise Fontanne; b. Dec. 6, 1887,Â Essex, Eng.â€”d. July 30, 1983,Â Genesee Depot, Wis., U.S.) were long associated with the playwright NoÃ«l Coward, whose play Design for Living (1933) was written for them. They eventually earned a reputation as the greatest husband-and-wife team in the history of the theatre. — EncyclopÃ¦dia Britannica
Thursday November 2, 1939 “I went to cooking school in the morning. Afternoon to the library and the park. Nite at home and read. Tony over for a few minutes. Marc and Ruth phoned. ”
Friday November 3, 1939 “Jeanne home with a sore back.Â Went to cooking school in the afternoon. Jeanne feeling better – walked in the park + to Clement Street. Had dinner at the Grotto. Went out with Marc and the Rosses to Burlingame + saw Ruth. Good Scotch. Home at 12:30”
Number 9 Fisherman’s Grotto was typically referred to in 1939 as “The Grotto.” It was built on stall number 9 at Fisherman’s Wharf in 1935.
But there was also Bernstein’s Fish Grotto, dating back to 1880. It was at this location, 123 Powell Street, since 1911. Its street-front replica of the bow of a ship was added in 1930. Fun! But sadly it all came to an end in June of 1981.
Another Grotto, Exposition Fish Grotto
Saturday November 4, 1939. “Jeanne and IÂ downtown in the morning. Met Sam at noon. Ate at Jacopetto’s. At nite Jeanne and Duke to the theatre. Sam and I to Filmore Street. It was interesting.
San Francisco rooftops looking toward Coit Tower on the right, and the Golden Gate International Exposition at Treasure Island on the left. 1939. Image Source: Brett Weston
Sunday November 5, 1939. “A Grand Day. Sam and I walked through the park to the beach, and along the beach, and then back. Tony phoned, also Ted! Jeanne and Duke went to a show. Sam and I stayed home. Read and Radio.
In view here on the left is Playland. It was a 10-acre seaside amusement park located next to Ocean Beach, in the Richmond District at the western edge of San Francisco along Great Highway where Cabrillo and Balboa streets are now. It began as a collection of amusement rides and concessions in the late 19th century and was known as Chutes At The Beach as early as 1913. It closed Labor Day weekend in 1972. Condos are there now.Â Beyond that are the windmills marking the Western entrance to Golden Gate Park.
Monday November 6, 1939 “Up early to town – paid electric bill and window shopped. Bought gloves and writing paper. Walked in the park. Nite – wrote to B. and Irene. Radio and read. Tony phone about card from Humberto.
Tuesday November 7, 1939 “Up early and voted in S.F. for the 1st time – machines. Took Sam to work. Went home and walked in the par. Afternoon Jap washed windows. Jeanne and I picked Sam up at 5:15. Up to 11:30 for election returns. Rossi re elected. Ham and Eggs beaten. Also number 5 – oil – defeated.
Angelo Joseph Rossi (January 22, 1878 â€“ April 5, 1948) was the 31st mayor of San Francisco. He was the first mayor of 100% Italian descent of a major U.S. city (top 10 most populous U.S. cities between 1776 and 1931). Rossi served as San Francisco’s mayor from 1931 to 1944. He was mayor when the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco â€“ Oakland Bay Bridge were built, and he presided over the building of Treasure Island and the Golden Gate International Exposition (World’s Fair) of 1939. Under his administration, the city resisted compliance with the Raker Act which required San Francisco to sell power from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite to municipalities or municipal water districts, and not to any corporations, a condition of use of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. He dedicated the Mount Davidson Cross in March, 1934. Though a Republican he was a strong proponent of the New Deal “alphabet-soup” roster of work programs and worked vigorously and constantly with Washington to bring as many dollars to the City as possible in order to create jobs and improve the City’s infrastructure. Being unfriendly to the Labor movement, Husseys most certainly voted against him.
“The Great Depression of the 1930s brought economic distress to many Americans. Although poverty was widespread, the elderly suffered more than any other segment of the population. Faced with a real threat of hunger, many Americans looked to government to provide them some form of financial assistance.
In response to this critical need, various special programs were proposed. The federal government’s New Deal initiative created the Social Security system in 1935. In California the most prominent pension schemes were Upton Sinclair’s End Poverty in California (EPIC) campaign, the Townsend Movement (named for its architect, Dr. Francis E. Townsend), and the Ham and Eggs or 30-Thursday crusade, which proposed a $30 weekly pension for every resident fifty years of age and older.
The Ham and Eggs proposal was first presented to California voters as Proposition 25 in the 1938 general election. The initiative was narrowly defeated with a statewide vote of 1,398,999 to 1,143,670. Because of the closeness of the vote, the movement’s backers, the Retirement Life Payments Association (RLPA) decided to try again. They were able to secure over one million petition signatures–enough to persuade Governor Culbert Olson to call a special election for November 1939.” –Chris Ernest Nelson, Graduate student, San Diego State University