Tours of La Jolla’s cultural gems set for Nov. 18


By Ashley Mackin

The institutions in La Jolla’s Cultural Zone will showcase their buildings and programs at the second annual Open Doors La Jolla, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18.

The event was created in 2011 by St. James by-the-Sea’s rector, the Reverend Randal Gardner, to focus attention on the architectural and historical significance of buildings in the area.

During the free, open house-style afternoon, participants may join one of the walking tours scheduled or plan their own to explore such town jewels as the Bed & Breakfast Inn at La Jolla, The Bishop’s School, The Cuvier Club, La Jolla Historical Society, La Jolla Presbyterian Church, La Jolla Woman’s Club, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

Walking tours begin at noon at The Bishop’s School, 7607 La Jolla Blvd. Free parking is available in the Bishop’s garage. Refreshments will be served and cameras are welcome.

The Woman’s Club, 715 Silverado St., which was designed by Irving Gill in 1913, will have an architect on hand to discuss its historic significance. “Irving Gill has become so famous over the years as the first of the modern era of architects that we find there’s tremendous interest in his work, as well as in the grounds that were done by horticulturalist Kate Sessions,” said Charlene Thompson, La Jolla Woman’s Club executive director.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity to open up the buildings in our special cultural zone so our friends and neighbors can view our properties.” Thompson said 300 people came to the Woman’s Club at last year’s inaugural Open Doors event.

Walter DuMelle, assistant to the rector at St. James-by- the-Sea, said the church got positive feedback from the 2011 event as well. At this year’s Open Doors, St. James will showcase its famed church organ.

“We have a wonderful 60- rank Austin Organ that we will be giving demonstrations on periodically throughout the Open Doors event, and there will be performances on the organ, maybe a little singing, and then maybe a discussion about the organ and its capabilities,” DuMelle said.

“Irving Gill’s nephew, Lewis, who also designed the San Diego Zoo, designed the St. James church — probably (his) most significant architectural structure.”

DuMelle said the church would also host architects discussing the design and significance of the building and answering visitors’ questions.

Though he said he knew and appreciated the buildings in the Cultural Zone from the perspective of a passerby, DuMelle who has been involved with St. James since 1995, said he “never took the time or energy to walk in and check [them] out, and I think that’s probably true for a lot of La Jollans. They know these great beautiful buildings, but oftentimes, you don’t have the opportunity or take the energy to become more familiar and aware of those places, and I think that’s what this event allows.”

About La Jolla Cultural Zone

■ Established in 1987

■ The boundaries are the northwestern side of Prospect Street from Eads Avenue to Cuvier Street.

■ San Diego Municipal Code defines the Zone as “a unique assemblage of cultural uses representing the distinctive architectural, cultural, educational and historical heritage of La Jolla. ... The regulations (protecting it) are intended to provide that the highest land use priority shall be reserved for these existing cultural uses.”