La Jolla Children’s Pool historicity update: Criteria, boundaries set — Diane Kane to discuss the issue 7 p.m. June 27 at library


La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group got an update on local efforts to get the Children’s Pool landmark listed on the National Register of Historical Places during its June 4 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center. Carried forth by La Jolla Historical Society preservation chair Diane Kane, with the help of Historical Society member and engineer Matt Mangano, the idea behind listing Children’s Pool is to acknowledge the historical importance of this local landmark and enable the State Historic Building Code to be used on construction projects nearby.

Children’s Pool beach was created when La Jolla benefactress Ellen Browning Scripps commissioned the construction of a seawall to create a safe, calm place for children to swim on the 800 block of Coast Boulevard South.

In 1921, Scripps hired engineer Hiram Newton Savage, architect William Templeton Johnson, and contractor W. M. Ledbetter and Company for the job. La Jolla Children’s Pool opened in the spring of 1931.

“There are several things you need to include in a nomination for it to be considered complete — the first is, why is it historic? We settled on Criterion C for the engineering of the break-wall and its association with Hiram Savage, who designed it,” Kane said. “The second thing is the period of significance, and we looked at the period from when Ellen Browning Scripps starts talking about it to the ribbon-cutting, approximately 1920-1931.”

To determine the boundaries of what to include in the nomination, Kane brought in Mangano to assist.

“As we started doing research,” she said, “we realized this is more than just a break-wall, it includes natural features and man-made features, and some are out in the ocean, some are on land. The pool was enhanced by dredging, so the seafloor was graded, smoothed and created through engineering. The bluffs were enhanced with concrete that filled in a number of sea caves in order to stabilize it from ocean action over time.”

Thus far, the nomination includes the seawall, the parapet wall, the caves, the beach itself, the “lines of influence” just outside the seawall, the stairs, and the seafloor just off the coast.

The nomination committee also must look at what was there in 1931, what was changed since, and what should be considered “contributing” and “non-contributing” factors.

“The only thing out there that is still original on the bluff-top is the parking area, believe or not,” Kane said. “But just about everything else on the bluff-top — though it was part of the original project — no longer looks as it did in 1931, so we are proposing that they be considered non-contributing.”

From there, Kane and Mangano were able to create coordinates as to what constitutes the “asset.”

What’s next?

With a nearly complete report, Kane said the next steps are to “nail down the details and write it up.” She added that she hopes to present at the La Jolla Parks & Beaches’ July 23 meeting, and would also need to present to the State’s Historical Resources Commission, which meets in August and November.

She explained: “It will go to the State Historical Resources Commission, staff looks at it, and if they want changes, it will go back and forth a couple times. Once they are happy with it, we send it to the City and the City has a 30-day comment window.”

If and when the Commission agrees the application meets National Register criteria, Kane later told the Light, that recommendation is forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, D.C. for review. The Keeper can then accept, reject, or modify the application.

To further delve into the history of the Children’s Pool, including the effort to list it on the Register, Kane will give a talk “La Jolla Children’s Pool.” 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27 at La Jolla Library, 7555 Draper Ave. All those interested are invited to attend.

In other Children’s Pool news

Sidewalk beautification project: Because some elements of what exists at Children’s Pool are considered non-contributing factors to its historicity, construction will proceed on the Children’s Pool Walk Beautification Project as soon as the City is ready. But when that will ultimately be, remains to be seen.

The work — which will improve pedestrian flow in the area overlooking Children’s Pool by removing some of the vegetation, adding seating walls and replacing the sidewalk — was set to begin June 1 and take five to six months.

However, La Jolla Parks & Beaches chair Ann Dynes announced at the board’s June 4 meeting that work had not yet begun and applicable agencies came up with an “additional requirement for compliance. The contractor was ready to go, there were a couple of little glitches, but I’m told these are not deal-killers.

“I’m led to believe there were a few little hoops to jump through, but that we’re on the verge.” No timeline for when construction would start was available at the meeting, nor La Jolla Light’s deadline.

Crews previously said the work would take at least five months, and now face a limited window to get all the necessary permits to start this year (the City must complete the construction in the summer to accommodate the harbor seal pupping season, Dec. 15 to May 15). The project has been in the planning stages since 2011, and spearheaded by La Jollan Phyllis Minick. The seed money was privately raised and handed over to the City for project funding. In previous years, construction delays prevented the City from starting on time.