Restoration of La Jolla Recreation Center’s historic pillars is about to begin

By Hobe Schroeder

Treasurer La Jolla Parks & Recreation, Inc.

Work has begun to repair and restore 39 pillars at La Jolla’s Recreation Center. The building and the adjacent playground, designed by the famous architect Irwin Gill, were inaugurated by Ellen Browning Scripps in July 1915, making them now almost 100 years old.

The concrete pillars were designed with a thin layer of beach sand on the outside to give them texture. One must keep in mind that concrete construction, at that time, had just become common and has changed a lot since. With the passage of time, cracks appeared, especially at places where the fence was attached. In the past, attempts have been made to patch up cracks and holes without regard to the original design.

This current project, with a pricetag of about $75,000, will be financed by previous donations to La Jolla Parks & Recreation, Inc. The city of San Diego is also contributing $9,000.

The La Jolla Parks & Recreation board obtained a “Right of Entry” permit from the city to allow us to hire an outside company to work on city property. This was done with the help of area manager Mark Moncey. The Spectra Company from Pomona has been contracted to do the concrete work. Spectra has experience with historic buildings and is also repairing the Museum of Man building in Balboa Park.

Fence work will be done by South Bay Fence. In order to prevent damage, the fence will not be attached to the historic pillars, but to posts next to them. Iron attachments and fasteners corrode and expand and thereby damage the concrete.

Also, drainage pipes inside the pillars will be capped to prevent further corrosion, and at the same time, the wall between the pillars will be restored. City staff, with input from La Jolla Historical Society interim director Trip Bennett, has been very helpful and will be extensively involved with the project. The work will be finished in about one month.

In the spirit of Ellen Browning Scripps, the board of directors wants to maintain and improve the recreation center facilities and playground where generations of La Jolla children grew up. We hope future generations can also enjoy this precious place.

If you want to make a contribution to this project, please contact La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037 or (858) 552-1658. Our new center director is Kristina Wells. For additional information, contact board president Doug Fitzgerald at (310) 383-6633 or

dougfitzgerald@hotmail.com

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We are very grateful for the continued support of the Scripps Foundation under the leadership of Doug Dawson.

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