There’s a whole realm of study, philosophy, and psychology that went into Richard Neutra’s 1927 -1929 Lovell Health House.
Called the Health house for a reason. It was meant to be a place to practice physical fitness, dietary discipline, sunbathing, and outdoor sleeping.
Neutra believed that a thorough study of psychology and science of the mind, and creating design practices from that, an architect could establish a profound and direct relationship between architecture and psychology.
Upon completion it stirred enormous interest in Los Angeles. Truly nothing like this steel constructed house existed there before. And the health spa aspect of it was of great interest as well. Upon its completion an organized tour of the house attracted some 15,000 visitors.
While Neutra intensely pursued his psycho-physical architectural theories, it’s doubtful living in any of his great designs ever cured psychosis.
But there’s no question creating a beautiful environment in which to live enhances one’s quality of life. We as humans are stimulated, inspired, and thrilled by great design and creation, whether it be architecture, music, theater, or dance.
Wright was hired to design the museum in 1943. He wanted to break all convention with this signature work of his, but it took 16 difficult years to bring his ideas to fruition. Wright passed-on before opening day but still saw most of his work to completion.
1969 was a different time, and San Diego was a different city. Often called laid back or sleepy – even as City officials touted it as “City In Motion.”
It is very likely plans were on the drawing board as early as 1969 to get rid of the Santa Fe Depot. By 1972 a full pitch battle was on to save the depot from demolition.
It was Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) that stepped in to save the Depot from demolition. It was a call to action the preservation group had to put out, not once, but twice.
The depot opened in 1915, approximately coinciding with the biggest of events in San Diego History, the opening of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition
As with the domed towers at the Panama-California Exposition, the Santa Fe Depot tower domes have a Spanish style zig-zag pattern of yellow blue tiles.
The Mission Style architecture was designed by the firm Bakewell and Brown, out of San Francisco. They built San Francisco City Hall the same year.
The 55 foot wood beam ceiling shelters travelers entering and exiting the depot.
The YMCA building in the distance remains. MTS buses look different. And the Art Deco bowling alley across the street is long gone.
Originally the front arch was entered through a forecourt lined with arches. As so often the case, the demand for parking ruled the day in 1954 when the forecourt structure was demolished.
There had been interest in rebuilding this structure in recent years. But the current alignment and configuration of today’s railroad tracks has been deemed incompatible with such a project. So the old forecourt will remain only a memory or echo from the past.
Old Oak Benches Remain On Duty To This Day
Gone are that style of passenger car as well as the structure beyond it.
An antique luggage cart that no longer sees service.
Private Train Cars were once parked outside, along-side the depot.
They Cyrus K Holliday was once owned by the Sefton Family and their San Diego Trust and Savings Bank. In the following decades San Diego Trust and Savings went away and the Seftons relinquished the train car as well, as it resides somewhere else on tracks far away.
The train yard itself is much different and busier today. There’s the Trolley line, The Coaster line, and Amtrak.
A view towards the south. Police headquarters (now a museum, shopping and restaurant venue) in the distance. The power building is one the left. The Swift Company building, long gone.
And best shot for last. San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot is one of the largest and best loved train depots in California. A jewel that celebrated its 100th Birthday in 2015, and still as beautiful as ever.
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 that 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 Belle was such a great and important artist. “Tonight,” he said.
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.