Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall back

Hello friends, the summer has passed and with an early morning cool snap and coastal fog we are experiencing our subtle change of season here in Solana Beach, CA. Fall has arrived. Looking back to the summer, two weeks were spent with my family in England. Juliana, came along, so it was a lovely mother and daughter trip, a relaxed opportunity to be with grandma, aunts, and cousins for her, and for me a time to personally reconnect with my mother and sisters, nieces and nephews.
I saw the environs with fresh eyes and began to look closely at the architecture of coastal east Essex where my mother and sister now live. The resort town of Clacton-On-Sea was developed during the Victorian era as the working classes became wage earners and were able to afford the luxury of a holiday by the sea. The large seafront hotels, bed and breakfasts and restaurants still carry the distinctive Victorian style edifices, with just enough restrained embellishment to add design interest to what otherwise would be dull exteriors. One sole original Tudor home with its timbered exterior, leaded windows, noble chimneys and wavy brick work, made me wonder how it survived the commercial development of the seaside town.

A Tudor home on Marine Parade West in Clacton-on-Sea

A trip into nearby Frinton-On-Sea, an exclusive upscale community just North of Holland-On-Sea where my mother lives, offered an opportunity to see plenty of period revival over-sized homes on manicured lots, each one individually designed, a luxury in any community in England. No tract homes here.

A typical home in Frinton-on-Sea

Then an unforgettable a day trip to Dedham, in Suffolk, where the famed English Romantic fine artist, John Constable went to school, was like a journey in a time machine. The narrow high street, lined with structures dating back to the 1600s, quaintly preserved the ambiance of a 17th century village, and sent my imagination back to simpler times long before Constable painted his iconic agrarian landscapes.

A 17th Century Inn on the High Street in Dedham

We also spent a wonderful day in London, seeing the familiar sights, and landmarks. On display at the National Portrait Gallery was the exhibit, Glamour of the Gods, a collection of photographs of stars of the screen, several from the Golden Age of Hollywood, the 1920s through the 1940s. One of the photographers was the famed George Hurrell. Before I left for my trip to the UK, I had the privilege to interview Hurrell’s daughter, Daphne Hurrell Cortese. That article was published in VAV! Magazine, today. If you get chance please read it, Daphne’s recollections are priceless.

Posters for the exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Trafalgar Square with its famed Nelson's Column, adjacent to The National Portrait Gallery

On return to Solana Beach, August soon slipped into September with kids heading back to school and the fall schedule got underway. I was honored to be asked by producer, Elsa Sevilla, host of KPBS’s television show, San Diego’s Historic Places, to be interviewed for an episode that spotlighted Rancho Santa Fe and the Silvas/Osuna adobe. We met in an ambiant courtyard in The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe where we were filmed chatting about Lilian J. Rice’s role as the designer and resident architect of what is simply known as the Ranch by residents in the affluent 92067 zipcode. The episode aired in September, but as it comes available online, I will send a link in a future newsletter. Of note is that The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe is up for sale. It is interesting to me to note that some of the stars that George Hurrell shot with his 8 x 10 view camera, walked those same terracotta tiled floors in the Inn where Elsa and I met. I do hope that the aging “guest house” finds a sensitive owner.

Elsa Sevilla and Your's Truly at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe
Giving back
Nearby Encinitas celebrated its 25th year of cityhood on October 1. A huge city gathering was organized at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum where almost 1,000 people passed through the grounds. Booths included Ecke Ranch floriculture, local merchants, food vendors, non-profits and press. I was there signing my books on Encinitas and my award-winning monograph on Lilian J. Rice, a percentage of sales has been donated back to the museum. It was gratifying to have so many people stop by, say hello, and even buy books! October 1 was a busy day for me. Before I headed for the museum’s celebration, I was part of an author panel at the San Diego Book Festival held this year at the Encinitas Library. We spoke to an interested and engaged audience about our passion for local history, sharing our stories about why we do what we do and why we love it! On the panel with me were Richard Carrico, author of “Strangers in a Stolen Land–Indians of San Diego county from Prehistory to the New Deal,” and David Lewis, author of a soon-to-be-published book on the history of Julian. It was fun to compare notes and share our enthusiasm for our respective passions. 

Looking ahead

On October 19, Paul and I will give our video documentary presentation on the history of the Del Mar Fairgrounds to the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center. On November 16, I will address ladies from the American Association of University Women at the Encinitas Library, presenting “Lilian J. Rice, Architect of Rancho Santa Fe, California.” Remember if you belong to a group who may have an interest in a presentation on Lilian Rice, or the Del Mar Fairgrounds, please contact me. I’m often available and love to share our local history with anyone who has an interest.
Until next time...Cheers!