Pillars of the Community
By Pat Sherman
Renovations to 39 historic fence pillars along the perimeter of the La Jolla Rec Center grounds were finished late last month.
Ellen Browning Scripps inaugurated the recreation center and its adjacent playground — designed by renowned architect Irving Gill — in July 1915.
“We felt like the pillars had been neglected for the last 50 or 60 years,” said Hobe Schroeder, treasurer of La Jolla Parks and Recreation, Inc.
In the past, Schroeder said, the city periodically patched up cracks and holes in the pillars without regard to the original design.
“They looked terrible,” Schroeder said. “The patch didn’t match. It looked absolutely horrendous, and the city didn’t have any money to restore them.”
Some sections of the pillars were damaged down to the steel rebar, which had rusted and expanded in some areas, forcing cracks in the concrete.
“There were (drainage) holes in the pillars and the rain used to go right down into the pillars,” he said.
The $75,000 renovation was completed with money raised by former La Jollan Walt Hall, considered the patron saint of fundraising for La Jolla’s parks and recreation venues.
“He went around from one business to another and raised a lot of funds for us,” said Schroeder of Hall, who has since left the area.
About $50,000 for the pillars went to Pomona-based Spectra Company, which specializes in historic renovations. Another $25,000, including $9,000 from the city of San Diego, went to South Bay Fence, for replacement of the chain link fence.
The work was done in accordance with Secretary of the Interior standards for the treatment of historic properties, said project manager Reuben Lombardo of Spectra Company.
“The main point is to maintain as much of the historic fabric as possible,” Lombardo said. “You never get it exact, but your goal is to strive to get that feel of the original piece. … There should (also) be a way to determine what the original historic fabric was and the due repair,” he said.
La Jolla Historical Society Interim Executive Director Trip Bennett, an architect experienced in historic renovations, and structural engineer Peter Curry served as pro-bono consultants on the project.
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