Del Mar Foundation: The Powerhouse in DMF’s History

As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, it’s worth noting the powerful presence of the Powerhouse in DMF’s history.


1980s: The Aug. 1982 DMF Board minutes state, “acquisition of open space is within the purpose of the Foundation [and] facilitating the acquisition of the Powerhouse site would be pursued…” After much community debate, the City opted for a lease-purchase agreement, and voters approved the Powerhouse acquisition on Feb. 15, 1983. In this photo, Joel Holliday, one of the original DMF directors, is taking part in a March 15, 1983 clean-up and painting of the Powerhouse. Only old-timers remember when it looked like this!

Joel Holliday, a founding DMF director, cleans up the Powerhouse on March 15, 1983.

Powerhouse Park was created in 1988, but the building’s renovation came later. 


1990s: The fundraising campaign for the Powerhouse’s renovation as a community center began in 1996, with DMF fiscal sponsorship. Under Barbara Harper’s leadership, the campaign was a smashing success, raising over $500K. This allowed the City to complete the renovation in 1999, with a Dec. 4, 1999 grand opening. In Oct. 1999, the Powerhouse Committee became a separate nonprofit, Friends of Powerhouse, to continue its work supporting Powerhouse and beach-related projects. 


2000s-Present: On Jan. 26, 2000, in the newly-renovated Powerhouse, Lynn Gaylord gaveled to order the first meeting of DMF’s Cultural Arts Committee – created to organize music concerts, talks, and other programs to take advantage of the new community center. CAC’s signature program, First Thursdays, is now in its 22nd season! Today, Powerhouse Park and Community Center are Del Mar icons, beloved by residents and visitors alike.