100 Years Old: La Jolla Rec Center prepares to celebrate centennial

2015 will be an exciting year of upgrades at the La Jolla Rec Center — all leading to its centennial celebration noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 25. At the celebration, which will coincide with the annual Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast, local leaders will speak about the center’s significance to the community and historical photos will be posted to offer a glimpse of the Rec Center through the ages. Structurally, the building looks similar to its grand opening appearance in 1915, said Doug Fitzgerald, president and CEO of the La Jolla Rec Council.

The 10-member La Jolla Rec Council (operating as La Jolla Park and Recreation, Inc.) meets to promote recreational programs in the community at 5 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Rec Center. “The Rec Center has always been a great

place. It’s a centerpoint for La Jolla. Generations of people have grown up here and had their children play — and their children’s children play here. And that’s what Ellen Browning Scripps wanted, to let children have fun,” Fitzgerald said.

What’s old is new again

Preparing for the celebration, Fitzgerald said the Rec Center will be spruced up, with three exterior cosmetic projects in the works. The outside of the building (currently a pink seashell hue) will be painted a shade closer to its original color, a sandy beige, similar to surrounding buildings, like the La Jolla Woman’s Club.

Secondly, the flowering bushes that line the front entrance will be replaced with a plant to be determined.

Finally, the plaques on the north-facing side of the building (next to the bulletin board that announces community meetings), will be refurbished and an additional one installed. “We have a company that cleans them up so they look new,” Fitzgerald said. “They are still 100 years old, but we can make them look a little better.”

The three plaques commemorate three key points in the Rec Center’s history, so one commemorating the centennial is a perfect fit, Fitzgerald said. One recognizes the Center’s opening. It reads: “In grateful acknowledgement of this gift of Ellen Browning Scripps to the City of San Diego. July 3, 1915.”

A second, from a different group of La Jollans, thanks “Miss Ellen” and reads: “This tablet is placed here by the Children of La Jolla with love and gratitude in honor of Ellen Browning Scripps, the donor of this playground.”

A third salutes the Rec Center’s first directors, a husband-and-wife team: “In memory of Archie and Agnes Talboy, Playground directors 1919 to 1952, who gave a lifetime of devotion to the children of La Jolla.”

The new one, marking the centennial, will be unveiled at the July ceremony.

Unexpectedly, the mature stone pine that originally shielded the entrance fell in October and had to be removed. Hoping for perfect timing, Fitzgerald said the tree will be replaced for the centennial.

At the July celebration, under the new tree, a “time capsule” will be buried with contributions being collected from students at La Jolla schools and something from the Rec Center. “So 100 years from now, people can pop it open and see what’s in there,” Fitzgerald said. As to what will be in the time capsule, he said, “Who knows?” (Perhaps they will consider a copy of La Jolla Light?)

A place for children of all ages

Recreation Center director Nicole Otjens said the center will continue to be a place that offers activities for children of all ages. In addition to the annual senior dances — one celebrating Cinco de Mayo and the other, the winter season — the emphasis will be on youth recreation in 2015.

The Center revived its youth sports program to include a flag football team, and the center will continue to offer youth basketball, soccer and gymnastics, and peewee sports.

To mark the changing seasons, the Rec Center will host children’s craft times in spring and fall, summer camps and winter holiday activities.

“The La Jolla Rec is one of the hidden Jewels in La Jolla,” said board member Lizzet FitzCluster. “Even though it has been around for 100 years, it is still the place to socialize with friends in a relaxed atmosphere. There is always something going on there, if you want to get involved. This is the place to build beautiful memories with your family.”

La Jolla Recreation Center

■ Address: 615 Prospect St., La Jolla

■ Hours: • 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday • Closed Sunday

■ Phone: (858) 552-1658

■ Website: