La Jolla Historical Society

La Jolla Historical Society We inspire and empower the community to make La Jolla's diverse past a relevant part of life today Office: 7846 Eads Avenue - 10am to 4pm Monday - Friday.
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Gallery: 780 Prospect Street Open Noon to 4pm Thursday – Sunday. Free Admission

Research appointments can be made by calling Deputy Director Dana Hicks at 858-459-5335 ext. 3 or emailing us at [email protected].

Have you ever heard of "Neptunia"? It was developed between 1899 to 1902 by Dr. J. Mills and Alma Boal and stretched fro...
04/17/2024

Have you ever heard of "Neptunia"? It was developed between 1899 to 1902 by Dr. J. Mills and Alma Boal and stretched from La Jolla Blvd. west to the sea between the center of Westbourne on the south and the center of Sea Lane on the north. The couple chose the name Neptunia for their development (now known as the Barber tract) in April 1899. The winning name was submitted by Miss Helen DeLange, a visitor in La Jolla, and the prize was a lot in Neptunia, (Can you imagine the value of that lot today?)

However, the area really took off after multimillionaire Phillip Barber arrived in 1921. Barber was a retired vice president of the Barber & Company steamship firm of New York and moved to La Jolla from Englewood NJ. He purchased a large tract of land several blocks west of the streetcar tracks adjoining the main road (La Jolla Blvd.) into La Jolla. The site contained an area of picturesque sand dunes. Barber sold small parcels of land to various buyers with select architect-designed homes on them.

The electric streetcar along with the automobile and improved roads opened up the area to real estate development. In 1922 the Spreckels owned San Diego Electric Railway Company began laying a streetcar line to Mission Beach and La Jolla from downtown San Diego. Tourists would come to visit the area's beaches, impressive cliffs, and mysterious caves. There were also a number of permanent residents there who had been attracted to the area since the turn of the century period.

Thanks to Save Our Heritage Organisation for much of this fascinating story.

You asked and we listened! For the first time we are offering a special bonus garden for the self guided Secret Garden T...
04/12/2024

You asked and we listened! For the first time we are offering a special bonus garden for the self guided Secret Garden Tour! This unique offer is limited to 250 tickets - and they are selling fast!
This Bonus Upgrade Ticket Garden is one of the most spectacular oceanfront properties in the world, with over 5 acres of stunning gardens, mosaics and sculptures, an aviary, and unmatched views. You could spend hours exploring the fruit and vegetable garden, carefully maintained roses and plumeria bushes, or just admiring the cliff-top perspective from the pool.

The Upgrade Ticket is $20 when purchased with a Self-Guided Tour Ticket - Buy now while they are still available. https://lajollahistorical.ticketsauce.com/e/secret-gardens-tour-2024/tickets

Thursday morning, from the Collections Manager's Corner.... Good morning all! This photograph is from the La Jolla Histo...
04/11/2024

Thursday morning, from the Collections Manager's Corner.... Good morning all! This photograph is from the La Jolla Historical Society's Collections of the interior of John Cole's Bookstore inside Wisteria Cottage in 1975; now the LJHS's exhibition gallery. Do you remember when? What is your story?

The House of Dreams Awakens – From a Timekeeper article by Molly McClain and Heather Crane. La Jolla boasts landmark hou...
04/11/2024

The House of Dreams Awakens – From a Timekeeper article by Molly McClain and Heather Crane. La Jolla boasts landmark houses in a range of styles, from English Tudor to Spanish Colonial and even Moorish Revival. One of the most unique, however, is the palatial East Asian “House O’Dreams” at 1428 Soledad Ave. Built between 1911 and 1918, it is a striking testament to the fascination with non-Western cultures in the early 20th century.

House O’Dreams was built by Florence White Howard (1855-1937), a free-spirited artist known for her public readings of Theosophical texts. The daughter of a wealthy manufacturer from Hanover, IL, she lived in Chicago with her husband John Urquhart Howard, a wool merchant, and two children. She traveled internationally and was a frequent visitor to world’s fairs, starting with the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Like many of her contemporaries, she fell in love with “the Orient” and sought to replicate an idealized vision of beauty and serenity along the shores of the Pacific.

The house was built in two stages. In the summer of 1911, Florence hired contractor Perl Acton to build a one-story, six room bungalow. The living room, with its deep stone fireplace, looks much like the Green Dragon’s “Wahnfried.” Five years later, she rebuilt the house, turning it into a three-story palace topped by an East Asian hip-and-gable roof with multiple eaves painted black and red. Inside, rooms were remodeled to incorporate a “Chinese balcony” and mezzanine floor, a sun parlor, and an observatory with panoramic views. The house remains substantially unchanged after more than 100 years.

In addition to building her dream house, Florence developed a Japanese-style garden. Paths leading up the hill crossed an arched bridge wound through clusters of cherry trees, cedar, pines, and black bamboo. The garden also included several torii, or Japanese gates, traditionally used to mark the entrance to a sacred landscape.

House O’ Dreams became a tourist attraction visited by hundreds of people who stopped on their way to La Jolla to view its many unusual features. It may have been conceived as a tea house like George Marsh’s Japanese Tea Garden near the Hotel del Coronado. Or it may have been a piece of performance art staged by Florence Howard to display her artistry and taste.

Sadly, the dream house turned into a financial nightmare. Burdened with debt and facing foreclosure, Florence sold her home and its contents at auction in 1921. She moved to Long Beach to live with her daughter before traveling to India, possibly to visit the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, near Chennai. She lived in Long Beach until the Great Depression when she and her daughters moved to Bellflower where a relative had a poultry ranch. She died in 1937 at the age of 82.

The House O’ Dreams remains a history-evoking La Jolla house that has changed remarkably little in over 100 years. It is hoped that future owners recognize its unusual history and architecture and find it a treasure to be cherished into future decades.
To read the full article visit the Fall/Winter 2023 Timekeeper archives https://www.lajollahistory.org/timekeeper-magazine

Did you know the Secret Garden Tour not only showcases spectacular La Jolla properties with beautiful views and unique s...
04/09/2024

Did you know the Secret Garden Tour not only showcases spectacular La Jolla properties with beautiful views and unique settings, but that each garden is enhanced with musicians, plein air artists, and tabletop designs created by talented local florists and designers? Today we take a look at some tabletop designs from the past that are sure to inspire you and highlight the tabletop designers to be featured in the May 17, 2024 gardens.
There are 2 ways to experience the gardens, either Self-Guided or the popular Platinum Tour with an extra garden, catered lunch, and docent-led shuttle service. Tickets are selling out fast, secure yours today at https://www.lajollahistory.org/secret-garden-tour
Sugar and Scribe Adelaide's La Jolla Girard Ave Marketplace BW Home Morgan Lloyd Interiors + Cabinetry https://www.instagram.com/thecornerlajolla https://www.instagram.com/rossthieleandson/ https://www.instagram.com/tidalinteriors/?hl=en

A fun look back at the the legendary Cliff May "Munchkin houses" from 2006 with CBS 8 San Diego's Larry Himmel and past ...
04/04/2024

A fun look back at the the legendary Cliff May "Munchkin houses" from 2006 with CBS 8 San Diego's Larry Himmel and past president of La Jolla Historical Society, Pat Dahlberg. As Larry said... "Just a tall tale of a small house on a big hill"

November 22, 2006Larry Himmel explores one of San Diego's longest running myths--the Wizard of Oz munchkin houses in La Jolla.CBS 8 is the local source for S...

Thanks San Diego Museum Council for sharing info about our 2024 Architecture Adventure Summer Camp! Designed for young a...
03/28/2024

Thanks San Diego Museum Council for sharing info about our 2024 Architecture Adventure Summer Camp! Designed for young aspiring architects and designers, our camp offers a unique opportunity to learn about the fascinating world of architecture while having fun and making new friends. Learn more! https://www.lajollahistory.org/summer-camp

The La Jolla Historical Society (LJHS) is excited to announce its on-site youth summer camp, aimed at fostering creativity, exploration, and learning about architecture. Join LJHS for a week-long Architecture Adventure Summer Camp designed for kids ages 8-10. To learn more and register visit www.lajollahistory.org/summer-camp ☀️

This week in La Jolla history - The Scripps Aquarium-Museum opened March 26, 1951, named to honor former institution dir...
03/24/2024

This week in La Jolla history - The Scripps Aquarium-Museum opened March 26, 1951, named to honor former institution director T. Wayland Vaughan. The three-story facility served the institution for more than 40 years. A ring of 18 tanks, the largest at 2,000 U.S. gallons surrounded a central museum of glass exhibit cases displaying Scripps research projects. Within a month of its opening, visitors from all 48 states had signed the guest book.

In 1985, the Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation started a fund-raising effort for a new aquarium by donating $6 million. and in 1992, the current Birch Aquarium at Scripps opened its doors.

Do you have memories or photos of visiting the Scripps Aquarium?

La Jolla Historical Society is pleased to serve as the OH! San Diego 2024 La Jolla Open House Hub this weekend from 10:0...
03/08/2024

La Jolla Historical Society is pleased to serve as the OH! San Diego 2024 La Jolla Open House Hub this weekend from 10:00am- 4:00pm. We will be open for tours from 1:00-4:00pm and it's a great time to stop by and see our new exhibit Order/Disorder: Belonging in Nature.

OH! San Diego - This Weekend - March 9 & 10
La Jolla

La Jolla ~ Founded in 1887 and home to Ellen Browning Scripps, who built her house on the ocean side of Prospect Street, “The Jewel” has become an educational and cultural epicenter anchored by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the La Valencia Hotel, La Jolla Playhouse, UC San Diego, the Salk Institute, and Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Visitors come from around the world to visit sea lions at Children’s Pool, stroll Prospect Street’s shops and restaurants, hike Torrey Pines State Beach, explore tidepools and sea caves, and swim, surf and sunbathe at iconic beaches.

The La Jolla Historical Society will serve as the neighborhood hub and also open their doors to a recently launched exhibit. The lineup holds tours of the La Jolla Cultural Zone, guided tours of the Epstein Amphitheater at UCSD, as well as private homes and architectural offices.

For the full OH! San Diego schedule, check out our website via the link below.

https://sdarchitecture.org/programs/open-house/2024-tour/la-jolla/

Thank you for highlighting our current exhibition San Diego Museum Council!
03/07/2024

Thank you for highlighting our current exhibition San Diego Museum Council!

The La Jolla Historical Society's latest exhibition, “Order/Disorder: Belonging in Nature,” curated by Danielle Susalla Deery, is now on view through Sunday, May 26, in the Wisteria Cottage Gallery.

The show features a range of organic materials used by artists Kline Swonger, Britton Neubacher, Oscar Romo, Annalise Neil and Courtney Mattison, such as clay, preserved moss, cyanotypes (which use sunlight to create an image) and arundo grass. The works are intended to offer viewers a physical connection to some of the resilient materials Earth has to offer.

The La Jolla Historical Society's Wisteria Gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. and admission is always free. Discover more at https://www.lajollahistory.org/.

Image: This cyanotype is featured in the exhibit “Order/Disorder: Belonging in Nature” at the La Jolla Historical Society. (Artist, Annalise Neil)

There's a new face at La Jolla Historical Society - La Jolla Shores resident McKenna Clifford Yahyai is our new educatio...
03/03/2024

There's a new face at La Jolla Historical Society - La Jolla Shores resident McKenna Clifford Yahyai is our new education and public engagement manager. McKenna's focus will be to enhance or revive our community programs as well as improve partnerships and outreach. She's already had an impact by making the free Family Day art events, held the 2nd Sunday of each month, more accessible to a broader audience. In the coming months, look for summer camps, educational programming for children and our ever popular Young Architects program. Read more here:

People in Your Neighborhood: Shores resident McKenna Clifford Yahyai also looks to enhance or revive educational and other programs.

This video and commentary are a snapshot in time - La Jolla in 1965. "There’s an obvious answer to the old question “Wha...
03/02/2024

This video and commentary are a snapshot in time - La Jolla in 1965. "There’s an obvious answer to the old question “What will the kids think of next?” But then—it seems only logical. Take an old hobby (putting roller skate wheels on a board) add a new twist (like this swivel-hipped sport) and combine it with a popular pastime—surfing. And voila you have side-walk surfing. Or skateboarding as it’s better known. This curbside version of ocean surfing has become the latest mania of the nation’s youth. In fact, it threatens to surpass the hula hoop craze of a few years ago. Tim Hudson, John Quick, and Shawn Bumstead are the skating stars here." Thanks to Barb Johnson Nielsen & CBS 8 San Diego for sharing this gem with us!

April 21, 1965There’s an obvious answer to the old question “What will the kids think of next?” But then—it seems only logical. Take an old hobby (putting ro...

Celebrating 25 years of any event is an outstanding achievement, but even more so when that event’s success is due to it...
03/01/2024

Celebrating 25 years of any event is an outstanding achievement, but even more so when that event’s success is due to its volunteers. La Jolla Historical Society’s Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla is hitting that milestone in 2024 and today we honored our 13 event chairs and co-chairs over the years at Wisteria Cottage. We thank them and all our volunteers for helping to make the event such a success! From top to bottom: Penelope West, Ann Zahner, Susan Vandendriesse, Lucy Jackson, Sharilyn Gallison, Meg Davis, Devonna Hall, Sue Kalish, Pam Filley & Betty Vale (not present Linda Marrone, Diane Dawson, & Gladys Kohn). If you haven’t bought tickets yet, buy soon and experience this wonderful event before we sell out. https://lajollahistorical.ticketsauce.com/e/secret-gardens-tour-2024

Walking Tours are back! Join us for guided historic walking tours of La Jolla and experience its unique history, archite...
02/17/2024

Walking Tours are back! Join us for guided historic walking tours of La Jolla and experience its unique history, architecture, landscape and more with LJHS Historian, Carol Olten. Tours are approx. 90 minutes in length. Comfortable shoes, hats and sunglasses are encouraged. Tours begin at Wisteria Cottage, 780 Prospect Street. $10 per person/free to LJHS members. Space is limited, register today.
Raymond Chandler's La Jolla, Thursday, March 21, 2PM: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/raymond-chandlers-la-jolla-tickets-817519010367?aff=oddtdtcreator
Village Churches of Historic La Jolla, Thursday, April 18, 2PM: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/village-churches-of-historic-la-jolla-tickets-817517084607?aff=oddtdtcreator

Early Bird Alert! Get discounted tickets thru Feb 16th for the 25th Annual Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla! Tickets for A...
02/11/2024

Early Bird Alert! Get discounted tickets thru Feb 16th for the 25th Annual Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla! Tickets for ALL categories sold out last year so don't wait to buy. Ticket Options:

Friday, May 17th: The Secret Garden Party Kicks off the weekend! Mix and mingle at a stunning private home & garden with stunning views while dancing to live music, enjoying hors d'oeuvres & wine. This fun event has limited number of tickets & will sell out quickly.
- $105 pre-sale thru February 16th ($95 for LJHS Members)
- $85 when purchased with a Platinum Tour Ticket for Saturday
- $115 Feb 17 - May 11 or until sold out ($105 for LJHS Members)
https://lajollahistorical.ticketsauce.com/e/secret-gardens-tour-2024

Saturday, May 18th: 25th Annual Secret Garden Tour
Self-Guided Tour Ticket: Experience 6 gardens made special with live musicians, plein air artists, and dining table designs.
- $50 pre-sale thru Feb 16 ($40 for LJHS Members)
- $55 Feb 17 - May 17 ($45 for LJHS Members)
- $65 day of tour May 18 ($55 for LJHS Members day of tour)

Platinum Tour Ticket: Enjoy the gardens with docent led tour buses, a lunch reception & 7th garden. Buy now as these sell out Fast!
- $145 pre-sale thru Feb 16 ($135 for LJHS Members)
- $155 Feb 17 - May 11 or until sold out ($145 for LJHS Members)
https://lajollahistorical.ticketsauce.com/e/secret-gardens-tour-2024

Not a La Jolla Historical Society member? Join now (starting at $50) and save $ on garden tour tickets! https://www.lajollahistory.org/membership

The Secret Garden Tour extends a rare invitation to the public to stroll behind the garden gates of some of La Jolla’s loveliest secluded gardens, often concealed from view by mature trees, vines, or foliage. Visitors from throughout San Diego County and beyond have the opportunity to view private...

Today we take a look back at one of the pioneers of La Jolla, Mabel Edmerson-Bell who was a La Jolla resident and Africa...
02/08/2024

Today we take a look back at one of the pioneers of La Jolla, Mabel Edmerson-Bell who was a La Jolla resident and African-American activist. She and her husband David were the first black residents to purchase property in La Jolla, a place where blacks had previously been prevented from owning homes. Mabel was known to be a natural humanitarian who was generous, friendly and would give a helping hand to whoever needed it.

Mabel Bell came to La Jolla on vacation from Brian, Texas in 1942, and never left. She founded the organization SOFA, which stands for Strongly Oriented For Action. SOFA is a non-profit activist group that was affiliated with Prince Chapel. She and others from SOFA successfully campaigned for the creation of affordable housing in La Jolla.

Her nephew, Charley Buchanan, who is one of the authors of the book, “La Jolla, California Black Pioneers and Pioneer Descendants 1880-1974,” told La Jolla Light that Bell was a respected and sought-after member of the community because of her skills as a people connector. “I was over at her house when Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) called my aunt, and said, ‘I need a person to do a dinner party for me,’ and she replied, ‘I’m on it.’ ”

Mabel Bell probably never imagined in 1950 when she and her husband bought the first home in an area of La Jolla previously barred to blacks that one day a community thoroughfare would be named in her honor. In 2008 San Diego City Council President Scott Peters and family and friends of the late Bell, along with members of her church, Prince Chapel African Methodist Episcopal, did exactly that, gathering across from La Jolla Post Office Aug. 14 to unveil a city street sign proclaiming “Mabel Bell Lane,” an alley running from Silver Street all the way to Rushville Street at La Jolla High School.

It was an appropriate memorial to Bell, who died in 2007 at age 94 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In the past she used that same alleyway to minister to the sick, make friends and spread the gospel of goodwill amongst her neighbors.

Join us for the opening reception Friday Feb 9th for Order / Disorder: Belonging in Nature, which brings together five a...
02/06/2024

Join us for the opening reception Friday Feb 9th for Order / Disorder: Belonging in Nature, which brings together five artists from California and Tijuana who explore the beauty and complexities of our natural environment and highlight La Jolla's unique coastal habitats.

Diverse works of art, including sculptures, paintings, cyanotypes and installations speak to the and installations speak to the relationship between humanity and nature through the lens of protecting our natural resources. Featured artists include Courtney Mattison, Annalise Neil, Britton Neubacher, Kline Swonger, Oscar Romo. Curated by Danielle Deery.

We look forward to seeing you Friday February 9th: Members Preview: 5-6PM and General Opening Reception: 6-7:30PM. RSVPs are always appreciated [email protected]

San Diego Architectural Foundation Crossing the Line KidSketch Series featuring the iconic Triad Case Study House  ! Joi...
01/31/2024

San Diego Architectural Foundation Crossing the Line KidSketch Series featuring the iconic Triad Case Study House ! Join the fun Saturday, February 10, at an online sketching session with La Jolla Historical Society's Lauren Lockhart. The Second Saturday events bring first time sketchers and seasoned enthusiasts to the same table with a virtual event that is open to “kids” of all ages! Learn more and register below:

Crossing the Line X KidSketch
Triad Case Study House
📅 February 10
⏰11 AM - 12 PM

Join us Saturday, February 10, for an online sketching session with special guest Lauren Lockhart of the La Jolla Historical Society.

Fun Fact: Case Study House is the simplest of three adjacent single-family residences that form the Triad grouping, completed in 1960 as part of Arts & Architecture magazine’s Case Study House program. These three homes were intended to be the pilot project for a large tract of houses in the La Jolla district of San Diego, but only this Triad was ever built.

Our Second Saturday events bring first time sketchers and seasoned enthusiasts to the same table with a virtual event that is open to “kids” of all ages!

RSVP via the link below to reserve your spot!
https://sdaf.wildapricot.org/event-5567965



📸 Philipp Scholz Ritterman

Today we look back at a 2013 Timekeeper article "Scientists In Mid-Century Modern Life" by guest contributor Claire Grez...
01/28/2024

Today we look back at a 2013 Timekeeper article "Scientists In Mid-Century Modern Life" by guest contributor Claire Grezemkovsky.

As patron of Louis Kahn's iconic Salk Institute, Jonas Salk helped define Post-War California Modernism. Completed in 1965, the Institute's bold design not only made a formal statement about the potential for human innovation. It also made this innovation possible by reworking how research spaces had traditionally been organized. But the Salk Institute just tells part of the story of Jonas Salk's connection with modern San Diego architecture. 1964 saw the completion of another building that would become home to the pioneering researcher, the house at 2444 Ellentown Road in Scripps Estates where he would move in 1969 likely first as a renter and then as an owner when he married the painter Francoise Gilot in 1970. They lived there together for the rest of Salk’s life.

The house had its beginnings in 1954 when Norman and Joan Holter drew lot 18 in the Scripps Estates lottery. Holter had owned a research company in Montana and in the mid-forties participated in early postwar bomb testing dubbed Operation Crossroads. Eventually, the couple hired local architect Loch Crane to design their house at 2444 Ellentown Road. The architect had studied with Frank Lloyd Write and served in Japan, which was a great influence.

But to say that the Ellentown Road house had only one inspiration would be misleading. In 1963, House Beautiful had published "A House Designed to Please 75 Women", the result of a two-year planning course in the Adult Education Program of San Diego city schools. Seventy-five students – "married women between the ages of 20 and 70" – spent months pooling their collective experience and dreams as well as collecting social-scientific data to develop the architecture of the ideal postwar suburban house with Crane as architect. House Beautiful sold basic house plans for construction and expansion, and the project greatly influenced the planning of the Ellentown Road house, which shares many of its characteristics. After moving into the house, Jonas Salk acquired a set of his own House Beautiful plans. The House for 75 Women embraced the progressive open plan, which could expand and contract based on family size and utility. The Salk Institute strived for similar flexibility with its labs, which were designed as open spaces that could expand and contract based on the needs of individual researchers.

Jonas Salk made frequent use of the open-plan living spaces of the Ellentown House, inviting the gamut of Salk researchers and visitors into the house for collegial entertaining, which provided continuity for discussion and collaboration begun at the Institute. However, Jonas Salk also cherished private, usually elevated, spaces for retreat, which according to son Peter Salk became a leitmotif of every one of his own residences. In the mid-seventies, Gilot convinced her husband to build an upstairs extension at the Ellentown house for this very purpose, commissioning drawings from Crane.

Finally, we can observe in both the Salk Institute and the Ellentown house a symbiosis between architecture and nature, which is a major component of modernist architecture, particularly California modernism. Similarly, with its grand embrace of the coast and coastal light, the Salk Institute is as much about landscape as it is about architecture. In Jonas Salk’s places of work and home, social life takes place at the threshold of the outdoors.

We are honored to be included among these exciting initiatives! Thank you World Design Capital San Diego Tijuana 2024!
01/26/2024

We are honored to be included among these exciting initiatives! Thank you World Design Capital San Diego Tijuana 2024!

Our exhibit, "Tigers, Unicorns, and Puppy Dog Tales" closes Sunday January 21st. It features three former landmarks: Gre...
01/20/2024

Our exhibit, "Tigers, Unicorns, and Puppy Dog Tales" closes Sunday January 21st. It features three former landmarks: Green Tiger Press, which started as a children’s book publishing company, the Unicorn Theatre, a cinema known for edgy presentations and celebrations of the classics of film, and the Mithras bookstore, which was an intellectual gathering place for bohemians from all over the world. Stop in before this unique exhibit closes. We're open Sat and Sun Noon to 4PM at La Jolla Historical Society Wisteria Cottage Gallery, 780 Prospect St., and as with all our exhibits, there is no cost!

We are enjoying this view of the 1917 annual Christmas tree lighting at the La Jolla Rec Center. The first La Jolla Chri...
12/24/2023

We are enjoying this view of the 1917 annual Christmas tree lighting at the La Jolla Rec Center. The first La Jolla Christmas tree was lit by Ellen Browning Scripps in 1912 at The Cove. When the Rec Center was dedicated in 1915, the community placed a tree where the basketball courts are today. Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We had a nice visit yesterday with Steven Duffy and his crew of Firefighters from the Nautilus Street fire station here ...
12/16/2023

We had a nice visit yesterday with Steven Duffy and his crew of Firefighters from the Nautilus Street fire station here in La Jolla. They picked out some beautiful historic photographs from our photograph collection to hang inside their station. We enjoyed having them here and appreciate all they do for our community!

Today's post is the 2nd in our series on La Jolla's pioneer women by board member Professor Molly McClain and historian ...
12/09/2023

Today's post is the 2nd in our series on La Jolla's pioneer women by board member Professor Molly McClain and historian Carol Olten: Pioneers Eleanor “Nellie” McGilvery Mills and her sister Olivia “Livy” McGilvery Mudgett.

Eleanor “Nellie” McGilvery Mills (1856-1937) was a native of Belfast, Maine, moved to La Jolla in 1890 with her husband Anson P. Mills, daughter Ellen, and her elderly mother Eleanor McGilvery. They lived, first, in Kennebec Lodge at the corner of Fay Ave. and Prospect St. and, after 1923, in a cottage across the street from the electric railway station. Nellie operated a highly successful real estate and cottage rental business while her husband Anson, a former lawyer, worked as a handyman. Anson also kept a series of diaries that detailed the comings and goings of visitors to early La Jolla. Nellie had a gift for helping friends and neighbors with domestic problems and worked with the Women’s Auxiliary to find funds to pay hospital bills for the needy. A New Englander, she had a deft hand with seafood; her husband wrote lovingly of her clam chowder “that I can only speak of with reverence.” An active clubwoman, Nellie was the first president of La Jolla Woman's Club and the Parent-Teachers Association in La Jolla. She took a leading part in a fundraising campaign for the La Jolla High School and was on the boards of the La Jolla/Riford Library and Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. On her death in 1937, she was remembered for “her deep curiosity about life,” her clear-cut views on politics, and her gift for inspiring the cooperation of others.

Olivia “Livy” McGilvery Mudgett (1845-1918) joined her sister and her mother—Eleanor Mills and Eleanor McGilvery—in La Jolla following the death of her husband, a prominent shipbroker. A graduate of Belfast Academy in Gorham, Maine, one of the oldest women’s colleges in the U.S., she had lived for a time in New York City. In 1894, she built her own house, a Stick-style Victorian, on lower Girard Avenue and named it Villa Waldo. Although it has been moved to the back of Girard on Drury Lane, Villa Waldo is one of the few homes from this period of La Jolla history that remains standing. A socially active woman, Livy enjoyed quilting parties and often invited friends and neighbors over for dinner, card games, music, and dancing. She was an early president of the La Jolla Woman’s Club, served on the board of the Library Association, and was active in the Village Improvement Society. Together with her sister Nellie, she formed what one neighbor called “the old-time ‘bone and sinew’ of the community.” She died at the age of 73, having accumulated a significant amount of property in La Jolla.

Fun fact about Nellie and Olivia - In the 1890s the first beach cottages were constructed along a formerly barren hillside above the La Jolla Cove. Outstanding among them was a house built as a weekend retreat by Dr. Joseph Rodes, a San Diego physician, who purchased the prime oceanfront site for $165. After Dr. Rodes died in 1896, the house was taken over by sisters, Olivia Mudgett and Nellie Mills, La Jolla’s first real estate agents. At the turn of the century, it was a four-hour trip from San Diego to La Jolla, so weekend cottages were very appealing. Mrs. Mills rented out several beach cottages, including this one, which she named Brockton Villa.

Fun Fact about early La Jolla Beach Cottages: Originally most of the beach cottages had names, instead of street addresses. The post office delivered the mail by name, not street address. Names were replaced in 1913 by street numbers for the use of the post office but local residents still referred to the cottages by name. Cottage names were short, diverse and very original including Idlewild, Rest-A-While, Cozy Nook, Done Roaming, Whispering Sands, Stella Maris, Puesta Del Sol, Salt Air Court, Sea Cliff, Sea Haven, Neptune, Sea Dream, Sandpiper, Barnacle, Surf Thrills, Kentucky, Kennebec, Hollywood, Bohemia, Cozy Nook, Red Rest, Hate to Quit It, Tuck Away, Nestledown, Happy Hollow, Glow Worm, Fire Fly, Kingfisher, Cherokee and El Tovar.

Good afternoon from the Collections Manager's corner. I wanted to share this photograph (below) from our Collection with...
12/01/2023

Good afternoon from the Collections Manager's corner. I wanted to share this photograph (below) from our Collection with you. The caption on the back simply reads: "The Bunch, 1920." My how the bathing suit styles have changed! A beautiful portrait! Enjoy!

It’s   Tuesday! Show your support for the La Jolla Historical Society today with a gift that will help sustain our work ...
11/28/2023

It’s Tuesday! Show your support for the La Jolla Historical Society today with a gift that will help sustain our work all year. Your generosity allows us to present engaging, free exhibitions and public programs for the community, and expand our offerings for youth and families. Thank you for your support!

Address

780 Prospect Street
San Diego, CA
92037

Opening Hours

Wednesday 12pm - 4pm
Thursday 12pm - 4pm
Friday 12pm - 4pm
Saturday 12pm - 4pm
Sunday 12pm - 4pm

Telephone

(858) 459-5335

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The La Jolla Historical Society Wisteria Cottage Gallery is open as of October 15, Thursday through Sunday, 12noon to 4:00pm. The Office & Research Center is open as of October 1 by appointment only. All visitors are required to wear face masks and observe social distancing guidelines.

Office: 7846 Eads Avenue Open 10am to 4pm Monday - Friday Gallery: 780 Prospect Street Open Noon to 4pm Thursday – Sunday Free Admission!

The La Jolla Historical Society is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire and empower the community to make La Jolla’s diverse past a relevant part of contemporary life, encouraging exploration of the past in ways that inform the present and shape the future. The Society preserves and shares La Jolla’s distinctive sense of place, and serves as a community resource and gathering place where residents and visitors explore history, art, ideas and culture.

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