Rose Creek Cottage charm links past to present: Event venue captures romance of an earlier era

Step inside the Rose Creek Cottage on busy Garnet Avenue, and you’re immediately transported back to a quieter time and place. Traffic noise fades away, thanks to the Tudor-style cottage’s thick walls and heavy oak doors.

“It’s like being in the country,” said Mark Johnston, manager and event coordinator. Even the large patio in the back with a gazebo is quiet. Beyond that, a path meanders along the creek with ducks and squirrels.

Built in the 1920s, almost 100 years ago, the cottage has been moved three times during its colorful history. On Garnet near Soledad Mountain Road since 1986, it is a convenient and popular venue for events of all kinds — weddings, parties, memorial services and funerals.

Weddings are the most common celebration, according to Johnston. The cottage can accommodate 80 people and is a good choice for those preferring a smaller, reasonably priced wedding, he explained. His wedding planning services include as much as people need — from help obtaining the wedding license to arranging for vendors such as caterers, photographers and limousines, and performing the service (Johnston is a wedding pastor). The cottage includes a bridal changing area, but no kitchen.

“We are a one-stop shop,” said Johnston. “Our motto is: ‘We provide everything but the fiancé.’ ”

The cottage is available for events every day of the week, but most weddings take place on Saturdays. September and October are the most popular months, more so than June due to San Diego’s gloomy spring weather. In addition to celebrations, Rose Creek Cottage also provides space and services for local organizations such as the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club.

How it all began

The cottage got its fun-filled start in 1926, when it was added to the Braemar Estate on northwest Mission Bay as a dining and entertainment room. Spread across five acres of land where the Catamaran Hotel sits now, the estate was built by Frederick Scripps and his wife, Emma, in the early 1900s. Scripps was a rancher and developer in the area covered by lemon groves. He was also the brother of E.W. Scripps, the newspaper magnate, and the half-brother of La Jolla philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.

Braemar became a popular cultural hub in Pacific Beach, hosting some of the first meetings of the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club.

Three and a half years ago, Johnston performed the wedding ceremony for the Scripps’ great-great-granddaughter, Emily Moniz, at Rose Creek. The bride’s grandmother, who spent childhood summers at Braemar, remembered riding her tricycle around the dining room.

After the death of Emma Scripps in the 1950s, Braemar sold and made way for the Catamaran. The dining room was preserved and used as the hotel’s wedding chapel for 30 years.

When the Catamaran expanded in the 1980s, several Pacific Beach officials and residents stepped in to preserve the cottage and find it another home. While they pursued several options (including a move to Kate Sessions Park), the cottage stood on an empty lot at the northwest corner of Garnet and Bayard. Finally, it found its way up Garnet to Navy-owned land on Rose Creek.

Current caretakers

Proceeds from the cottage benefit the Pacific Beach Town Council’s many projects, including preservation of the cottage.

Johnston has been the manager for approximately 12 years. He took over from his wife, Maggie, who managed events at the cottage for 10 years before that. The couple met in Alaska where they were working as chefs and bakers. They then moved to San Diego, where they owned A Taste of Heaven catering business and café in Mission Beach.

Johnston said he especially enjoys performing weddings and memorial services. “I’m a romantic,” he said. “I was born on Valentine’s Day and fated to do this! There is great joy in marrying people and being a romantic goes with the territory.”

In addition to overseeing Rose Creek Cottage, Johnston was voted Honorary Mayor of PB by the Town Council in 2011 and helped produce and emcee the Concerts on the Green for 13 years.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Rose Creek Cottage hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at 2525 Garnet Ave. (858) 361-8355. rosecreekcottage@gmail.com, rosecreekcottage.net

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