Revelles donate Wisteria Cottage

Guests at the opening reception for La Jolla Historical Society’s “By the Beautiful Sea” exhibit got quite the surprise at last Friday’s event, which was held at the Wisteria Cottage.

Ellen Clark Revelle, widow of UCSD founder Roger Revelle and namesake of her great-aunt, Ellen Browning Scripps, announced that she and her daughter, Mary Revelle Paci, were donating the historic cottage and its surrounding grounds to the Society.

Ellen, however, half-joked that she and Mary would be retaining the rights to the figs that grow on the property.

“Keep your fingers off,” Ellen said to the crowd.

Along with the announcement, the event unveiled black-and-white photographic reproductions of images and video footage depicting summers in La Jolla from 1870 to 1930. Tourists and residents from that era took most of the photographs. Bathing suits on loan from the Coronado Historical Association were also displayed.

Wisteria Cottage, which was named for the wisteria-covered pergola in front of the entry, was built in 1904 by George B. and Edith M. Seaman, who owned the property briefly before deeding it to a son. It was then sold to E. Virginia Scripps, half-sister of Ellen Browning Scripps, and the Cottage remained in the ownership of Scripps family descendants until last Friday.

In 2005, the Society signed a 10-year lease on the property with the Revelle family. The Society has been developing plans to restore Wisteria Cottage and the property’s two structures for use as a museum, education center, storage for archives, gift shop and event venue.

The Society’s ongoing $2 million capital campaign, initial renovation of the Cottage is underway. The interior of the main floor has undergone repainting to allow for exhibit spaces and the original hardwood floors have been sanded and refinished.

More photos

from the event.