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La Jolla Historical Society dedicates new home for archives

History buffs crowded into the 1904 Wisteria Cottage on Prospect Street Feb. 6 to dedicate a new site for the La Jolla Historical Society’s archival collections in the renovated and restored Ellen Browning Scripps Carriage House built in 1895.

The Carriage House, which stands next to the historical society’s main office on Eads Avenue, was part of Ellen Browning Scripps’ Moulton Villa Victorian-style home, and originally stored horse-drawn carriages, but later housed their Pierce Arrow touring car and Rolls Royce. A 1915 arson fire destroyed Moulton Villa and much of Scripps’ surrounding buildings, but the small Carriage House was spared.

The Carriage House, has been repainted inside and out and equipped with storage cabinets and a climate-controlled system to preserve the archives and collections, which include more than 10,000 photographs, hundreds of primary documents, memorabilia, local newspapers going back nearly 100 years, and yearbooks from The Bishops School and La Jolla High School.

For many years, because of its growth in both size and scope, the collections have been stored in three different locations. The new facility allows the collection to be consolidated and better cared for. This is phase one of renovations to the entire three-quarter-acre Wisteria Cottage grounds, including Carriage House, landscaping, Wisteria Cottage, and the 1909 cottage that serves as the society’s offices.

The society has raised nearly $1.3 million for the renovation of the Wisteria Cottage, which Ellen Clark Revelle, great-niece of Ellen Browning Scripps, and daughter Mary Revelle Paci donated to the society in 2008.

During the dedication, Michael Mishler, the society’s archivist and curator, led tours of the Carriage House and explained the advantages of storing archives there.

John Bolthouse, executive director of the La Jolla Historical Society and board members thanked donors, volunteers and community members for supporting this project and ongoing endeavors of the historical society.

— Linda McIntosh