La Jolla landmarks flagged for LGTBQ historical context

When architect Charles Kaminski moved to La Jolla in 1975, he was introduced to the local gay community from his apartment in the El Pueblo Ribera complex. “(The gay community) was then a handful of people, at least in my circle,” he said. The 69-year-old, who was then in his 20s, knew people from an older generation (ages 60-70) who “fit the gay stereotypes; they were hairstylists, decorators … but they were from the generation that just kept quiet.”

Kaminski, who is a board member with Lambda Archives — a non-profit preserving and teaching the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) people in San Diego — is participating in San Diego’s citywide LGBTQ Historic Context Statement, an effort to evaluate historical resources important to this community.

The San Diego City Council received $30,000 in state funding for the project, to be matched with $20,000 of city resources, including staff time to oversee development of the Historical Context Statement. For the draft, the city contracted with GPA Consulting (Los Angeles), which prepared a 105-page document highlighting themes relevant for the LGBTQ community. This was presented for public comment at two workshops, Aug. 25 and Aug. 27 at the Balboa Park Club ballroom.

City public information officer Arian Collins elaborated, “In addition to identifying the themes important to the LGBTQ community, the draft also discusses the associated property types and the designation criteria under which they are likely to be eligible (for historical designation).”

The draft identified four LGBTQ resources located in La Jolla — Black’s Beach; a restaurant called Skippers Twin Palms, located at 6737 La Jolla Blvd. and demolished in 1973; La Jolla Playhouse; and UC San Diego. To determine the assets researchers used gay publications and guides, said Kaminski.

“Nobody really talked about being homosexual at that time, so anybody who went (to Skippers Twin Palms) was probably very discrete, and didn’t want to be singled out. Most of the bars in the 1960s and the ’70s were unmarked. It was really through word-of-mouth and through guides that people knew where to go, so they could feel comfortable.”

Kaminski said he didn’t know of Skippers Twin Palms, since it was demolished before he moved here, but he pointed out other establishments in La Jolla that were frequented by the LGBTQ community. For example, he told La Jolla Light of King Richard (613 Pearl St., see photo), The Hungry Horse in Bird Rock (6544 La Jolla Blvd.), Gustav Anders (La Jolla Shores), the Unicorn Theatre (7456 La Jolla Blvd.) and adjacent Mithras Bookstore and a gentleman’s bathhouse on La Jolla Boulevard.

He also passed along this information to CPA Consulting, hoping it will help unveil the LGBTQ history in La Jolla. “There’s rumors, there’s heresay, there are some known facts, but nothing stands out as protests or civil disobedience, just kind of how gays and lesbians lived in those days, in the shadows.”

La Jolla Historical Society Preservation Committee chair Diane Kane, who attended the Historic Context workshops, brought up a property at 1944 Little St. She said the current owners, Taylor Miller and Paul Mears, approached her a year ago seeking help to get their residence designated “historical.” They claimed the property was previously owned by Bob Faust, reportedly a famous gay interior designer from Los Angeles, who established his permanent residence in La Jolla.

On the topic, Miller wrote in an e-mail, “We have spoken to many of Bob Faust’s old friends, who fondly remember him and his parties clearly. He was one of the original 1988 members of Gamma Mu, a non-profit founded in 1967 to help the LBGTQ communities.”

Kane visited the house and reported it was worthy of a review for historical designation. “When I learned of the LGBTQ Historic Context Statement, I thought that this property would fit — the time period, the people and the style were right.” She described the home’s style as “Colonial Revival,” with mirrors on the ceilings, very slick modern interiors, reflective adornments, and leather or fur for rugs.

City staff will seek input on the themes identified in the Context, as well as the properties identified thus far and any additional properties. “Input from the public at these (past) workshops will be reviewed by city staff and incorporated into the document as appropriate,” Collins explained. “A follow-up workshop to present the revised draft will likely occur in mid-to-late September. A final document will be produced by mid-to-late fall.”

However, in their criticism of the project, Kane and Kaminski agreed that there was a lack of public outreach. “The idea is to get all the neighbors in the city to remember, but that really didn’t happen,” said Kaminski.

La Jolla residents interested in sharing facts or citing properties in La Jolla related to the LGBTQ historical context, can contact city senior planner Kelley Stanco at (619) 236-6545 or kstanco@sandiego.gov

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