Bygone La Jolla pottery company’s kiln in search of a home

This kiln once belonged to the La Jolla Clay Products Company off Torrey Pines Road. The owner of the land where it remains seeks a home for the artifact in anticipation of developing his property. If interested, call Chin Lai at (858) 349-4359.

By Pat Sherman

The owner of property on which the La Jolla Clay Products Company was once situated (adjacent what is now Pottery Canyon Natural Park off Torrey Pines Road) is seeking a home for a kiln once operated by the pioneering La Jolla company.

According to La Jolla Historical Society historian Carol Olten, the kiln is one of two that were used by the company during its existence, from the 1930s to the ’50s.

An oil-fired kiln used to make tiles and adobe brick is long gone, though the smaller, wood-burning kiln still on the site and used through the 1980s to make pots and decorative items is still there.

La Jolla Clay Products Company began in 1928 when accomplished painter Cornelio Rodriguez came to La Jolla from Tomatlán (“Tomato Land”) in Jalisco, Mexico with brothers, Abraham and Ubaldo. They selected the site off Torrey Pines Road to establish their pottery works for its ideal clay composition (known as barro).

The brothers’ tiles were used for Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church, the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club and the restoration of the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, Olten said.

In 1976 Pottery Canyon was dedicated as a San Diego Historic Landmark and became a city park.

The Rodriguez family retained about an acre-and-a-half, which was later purchased by Chin Lai as an investment property. It contains the kiln and a small house, which he rents.

Though Lai said he has no plans to develop the property at the moment, he hopes to find a home for the kiln well in advance.

La Jolla Historical Society Executive Director Heath Fox said the society would prefer the kiln remain on public land near its original site (perhaps in the adjacent park).

If interested in the kiln, call Chin Lai at (858) 349-4359.

Related posts:

  1. Forgotten La Jolla survey dusted off as potential preservation tool
  2. La Jollans attend vigil for Irving Gill’s ‘Windemere’
  3. War Stories: Historical Society exhibit paints portrait of La Jolla during WW II
  4. Walking tour provides a look at La Jolla history
  5. Workshop fills La Jollans in on historic home designation

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Jan 15, 2014. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “Bygone La Jolla pottery company’s kiln in search of a home”

  1. Tony Ciani

    I agree with the LJHS, the Kiln should be moved onto the adjacent park with the namesake and direct historical association. The exact site and orientation should be carefully selected, and I assume the kiln can be carefully dismantled brick by brick under the direction of a historian or archaeologist, and reassembled on a new foundation with a commemorative educational marker nearby.

  2. Tom Sweet

    This would make a great Eagle Scout Project. Troop 605, are you ready?

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