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This Month in La Jolla History: The Light turns on; rail extension; ‘Neptunia’; more

A 1964 La Jolla Light article announces the paper's merger with the La Jolla Journal.
A 1964 La Jolla Light article announces the paper’s merger with the La Jolla Journal.
(Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society)

On April 7, 1922, the La Jolla Light printed its first issue, according to “La Jolla: The Story of a Community 1887-1987” by Patricia Schaelchlin.

La Jolla’s “first major newspaper,” Schaelchlin wrote, was the La Jolla Journal, first published in January 1913. The Light merged with the Journal in 1964.

On Oct. 29, 1964, an article in the Light announcing the merger quoted a joint statement from the two papers’ publishers: “By combining forces ... we will be able to present a more comprehensive coverage of the La Jolla community. … The plan of this merger is to give La Jolla a bigger and better newspaper — it is as simple as that!”

The merged paper was published as the La Jolla Light-Journal until the mid-1970s, when “Journal” was dropped and the publication continued as the La Jolla Light, which it does to this day.

Other April events

Rails for the La Jolla extension of the Pacific Beach railroad were laid beginning in 1894.
(Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society)

April 25, 1894: The San Diego Union newspaper reported that nearly two miles of rails were laid for the La Jolla extension of the Pacific Beach railroad, according to “This Day in San Diego History” by Linda Pequegnat. The extension was completed in May that year and ran until it was abandoned in 1919, by which time cars were becoming more popular.

April 1899: Dr. and Mrs. J. Mills Boals chose the name “Neptunia” for their development now known as the Barber Tract neighborhood (no exact date given), according to Howard Randolph’s 1955 book “La Jolla Year by Year.” “Neptunia” resulted from a contest entry submitted by Helen De Lange, whose prize was a lot in the development.

Walter Lieber arrived in La Jolla in 1904. He later led efforts to plant Washingtonia palm trees at Scripps Park (pictured).
Walter Lieber arrived in La Jolla in 1904. He later led efforts to plant Washingtonia palm trees at Scripps Park (pictured).
(Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society)

April 3, 1904: Walter Lieber arrived in La Jolla for the first time, Pequegnat wrote, “intending to stay a few hours between trains.” But instead he rented a cottage for $9 a month from Nellie Mills, La Jolla’s first real estate agent.

Lieber later bought land in La Jolla and, beginning in 1915, built cottages on them that he rented to vacationers, Pequegnat wrote.

He also led efforts to clean Scripps Park and plant Washingtonia palm trees there.

April 12, 1906: Vol. 1, No. 2 of The La Jolla Breakers, La Jolla’s first known newspaper, was published, according to Randolph. H.V. Alexander was the editor, with Nina Waddell listed as the local editor. “How long this paper survived is not known,” Randolph wrote.

Virginia Scripps stands in front of her Wisteria Cottage on Prospect Street. Scripps died in April 1921.
Virginia Scripps stands in front of her Wisteria Cottage on Prospect Street. Scripps died in April 1921. Wisteria Cottage later became the home of the La Jolla Historical Society gallery.
(Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society)

April 28, 1921: Eliza Virginia Scripps died in London at age 68. Scripps, known as “Miss Virginia” or “Miss Jenny,” arrived in La Jolla in 1897 with her half sister, Ellen Browning Scripps, and made several contributions to her adopted hometown.

Virginia Scripps donated funds to what is now the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, helped provide the land and finance the construction of St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and donated land to The Bishop’s School and was one of its avid supporters, according to Molly McClain in “Ellen Browning Scripps: New Money & American Philanthropy.”

Virginia Scripps’ cottage, Wisteria Cottage on Prospect Street, is now the home of the La Jolla Historical Society gallery.

April 22, 28 and 29, 1922: The La Jolla Woman’s Club presented the musical pageant “Esther” at its clubhouse, Randolph wrote. Under the leadership of Countess Laura de Turczynowicz, the production starred La Jolla residents.

April 7, 1923: Torrey Pines Lodge was dedicated at Torrey Pines Park, thanks to the efforts of La Jolla philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Pequegnat wrote. Torrey Pines Park was established in 1899 as a city park but was transferred in 1959 to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The name was later changed to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. The lodge is now the visitor center and ranger station for the reserve.

This Month in History is a recurring feature in the La Jolla Light highlighting local happenings from yesteryear. If you are aware of historical events from any year in La Jolla history that deserve recognition, email efrausto@lajollalight.com.