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Del Mar's Community Plan

The Wright Stuff
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

Serpentine Drive. Architect John Lloyd Wright.
Photos Bill Morris.
Click on image to enlarge.

In the midst of all the hullabaloo over the “modern” design proposed for our new City Hall my mind kept wandering uphill; uphill to the homes designed by then new and now renowned architects who broke away from traditional styles to design homes that “respected the environment, satisfied the client and fit the budget.”

It was post WWII and according to Modern San Diego, an online resource for modern design and architecture in San Diego County, John Lloyd Wright and Ray Jung were the only architects living in Del Mar. By the late ‘50s and early ‘60s there were 35 architects living and working here, almost all influenced by the legacy of John’s father, Frank Lloyd Wright. Once they got uphill from old Highway 101 with its bumper to bumper traffic and gas stations, the newcomers fell in love with the terrain and spectacular ocean views, the then affordable housing for young families, and the nearby elementary school. They designed homes that fit into the hillside terrain, not only in Del Mar but throughout the County. The early architectural pioneers, besides Wright and Jung, were Hannis Therkelsen, Herb Turner, Robert Jones, Don Schoell, Gene Geritz, Art Allard and Joe Gerber to name a few. John Wright sat on Del Mar’s first Planning Commission and Schoell (both supported incorporating as a City in 1959) took that seat when Wright retired. Schoell was instrumental in preventing restaurant development on what is now Seagrove Park at the end of 15th Street stressing how critical it was to preserve Del Mar’s visual connection to the ocean. Many of these names appear on the Community Plan plaque at the Park.

Zapo Street. Architect Joe Gerber.
Click on image to enlarge.

Early comments on the new City Hall design seemed focused on integrating the architecture of the Library, St. Peter’s Church and the Stratford Court buildings. Limiting our perspective to only that aspect of our architectural heritage overlooks the freedom in design that took root in residential Del Mar midcentury, influencing the preservation of the Del Mar environment, our relationship to the beach and ocean and the unique sense of community that is reflected in our Community Plan.

Serpentine Drive. Architect Herb Turner.
Click on image to enlarge.

The Library and St. Peter’s Church are wonderful buildings for their time and important to preserve, but they are not the only Del Mar buildings that could be reflected in our new place of community concourse.

Go to www.modernsandiego.com to view the very long list of the more recent historic Del Mar buildings.


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