La Jolla has been earning its reputation as “the jewel” of San Diego ever since it was incorporated into the city in 1850. Its nickname stems not only from La Jolla’s beautiful natural landscape, but also from the structures built upon it. La Jolla has a uniquely dense architectural history from historic beach cottages to Mid-Century modern homes to the striking designs of Irving Gill.
My great-grandfather, Ernie, who started his career as a carpenter in southern England, came to La Jolla in the 1920s and founded a family construction company here. My grandfather, father, and I have all continued the tradition of community involvement that Ernie began back in the 1920s.
Our family built the Soledad Cross and conceived and built the Mount Soledad War Memorial. My father, George Dewhurst, planted the pine tree on the corner of Prospect and Draper on behalf of the La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club, and every year GDC Construction decorates the tree for the Christmas season.
So I care deeply about historical preservation in this great community. Over the last few years, it has been hard to miss the struggle over the preservation of La Jolla’s beach cottages, which has played out in the local press.
Most of these homes were built as seasonal vacation properties, which, over the years, became year-round residences. Once people took up full-time residence in the cottages, many had to be significantly renovated from their original condition. These renovations lead the San Diego Historical Resources Board, which decides which local buildings receive historical designation, to classify a cottage as being historic significant or not. If a building is 45 years old or older, it must be cleared for demolition or significant renovation by this board.
Therefore, some homeowners in La Jolla face the unique responsibility of preserving the architectural history of their community. It is essential to historic preservation for the owners of older local homes to find ways to blend the old with the new. If you own an historic property of a certain size, you may be able to open it up to the public for viewing or even for private events, which benefits both the community and you. Also, you can apply for the Mills Act to receive a reduction on your property taxes for preserving your historic property.
One way we can preserve our exceptional community is to develop new projects or remodels while tipping our hat to those older styles. Local architects and homeowners can maintain the charm of La Jolla by looking back to the Arts and Crafts Movement, by drawing inspiration from the Jewel’s post-Victorian beach cottages, and from studying the Mid-Century modern styles. The trick is to give those styles a contemporary slant and to maintain comfort and convenience as well as aesthetics.
Part of the charm of La Jolla has always been the blending of the different architectural styles. This lack of uniformity has added to the character of the community, it is one thing, along with our beautiful coastline, that makes La Jolla so special.
Next month, I’ll discuss what goes into restoring and maintaining a historic property. For more information on La Jolla architectural styles or to plan your next build, visit us at www.gdcconstruction, or come see us at GDC Construction, 1031 Silverado Street, La Jolla, CA 92037 858-551-5222.