By Dave Schwab
More than three-quarters of the way toward its fundraising goal, La Jolla Historical Society officials announced Monday they have exceeded $1.5 million of the total needed to finish renovating Wisteria Cottage and complete other long-term projects.
“Considering the recent challenges in the economy, this milestone is an extraordinary example of just how much this great community believes in the La Jolla Historical Society’s potential,” said John Bolthouse, the Society’s executive director. “We hope today’s announcement will be the springboard to take us over the top to our $2 million goal by the end of 2011.”
Board President Tom Grunow added “this achievement of milestones is important to every organization, big and small. But for the La Jolla Historical Society, a relatively small organization — today’s milestone is a very big one.”
Two couples, Richard and Rita Atkinson and Dave and Sandy Coggan Erickson, were singled out at the ceremony at Wisteria Cottage as honorary co-chairs of the Society’s Capital Campaign. Marnie Gavit, granddaughter of the late La Jolla philanthropist Harle Montgomery, also spoke during the ceremony.
Society members Ann Zahner and Melesse Traylor were also cited for their contributions to the capital campaign.
All of the VIPs took part in the ceremonial cutting of a ribbon on a fundraising thermometer showing the rising level of community support for the Historical Society.
The $2 million being raised allows the Society to finish upgrading the 1904 Wisteria Cottage, the Ellen Browning Scripps 1895 carriage house and the 1909 beach cottage that houses the society’s offices and the historic grounds.
The Carriage House renovation has already been completed and now provides museum-quality storage conditions for the Society's archives thanks to such donors as board members and contractors Tom Grunow and Don Dewhurst, extensive painting donated by Chism Brothers and Peek Brothers; Las Patronas for archival shelving and digitalization equipment, along with notification by the Carol & Henry Hunte Family Foundation’s gift to the archival collection.
In 2008 before her death, Ellen Revelle and her family deeded the property, which had been in the family for more than a century, to the Society.
Initial restoration work by the Society included making interim improvements in the cottage and the Balmer Annex so the space could be used right away. The changes, which executive director John Bolthouse called “generally cosmetic,” ranged from repairing the wood floors and rebuilding the pergola at the entrance to upgrading the Carriage House so it had humidity and temperature controls to make it suitable to store the society’s archives.
Food and refreshments were served Monday following brief remarks and guests toured the newest exhibit in Wisteria titled “La Jolla Then & Now.”