Sunday, January 22, 2012

A New Year With New Opportunities

  Lilian Rice, Overlooked
Happy New Year to all my devoted friends of Lilian J. Rice. I appreciate your continued interest in our much loved, but little known, local master architect. Unfortunately once again Lilian Rice has been overlooked and did not make it into the Hall of Fame at the Women's Museum of California. But this has not diminished my resolve to spread the important history that Lilian Rice represents when we look back at the development of California's built environment and at Rice's place as a pioneer lady architect who was principal in her own firm. I have hit the ground running already this year with a presentation given to the Carlsbad chapter of the PEO Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization of women which was founded on January 21, 1869. It's mission is "Women Helping Women Reach for the Stars". The ladies were a wonderful engaged audience and fell in love with Lilian Rice who represents everything in a woman that they respect and admire. Looking ahead I was invited to do a future Lilian Rice presentation for the Pasadena chapter.

An unexpected visit

Just before Christmas I met with Cherry Osborne-Brown, a British lady who discovered me and my book on Rice on the internet. I received a surprise email from her in December : "I found your book to my great delight and absolutely loved it.  I am currently doing a creative writing course at the Open University in the UK and wanted to write about Lilian in one of the pieces I will be doing for my course. Could I interview you for my work?" she wrote. You may imagine that I was thrilled that someone from so far away wanted to find out more about me and my passion for Ms. Rice. We met in the "living room" of the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, talked each others' socks off and were treated to a pleasant pot of tea and cookies by manager Kerman Beriker.

Big changes at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Have you heard the news that the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe has been sold? The new owner is a firm headed up by John Moores, owner of the Padres Baseball team. A UT article noted that John Kratzer, president and CEO of JMI, stated, "There's tremendous opportunity to renovate the existing hotel and preserve its historic character, and it's a big community asset. It's been well maintained by the owners, but they haven't done major upgrades to most of the rooms in many, many years. It's just ready for a major renovation to provide the kind of finishes and qualities in the rooms that that market expects."
Movie stars like Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Mary Pickford, Bing Crosby, Pauline Neff, Joseph Schenck, Fred Astaire, Victor Mature, David Niven, sports stars, corporate moguls and royalty have all enjoyed the hospitality at the Inn, once known as La Morada--the house of many rooms. The Inn was the first building designed by Lilian Rice, in 1922, as the gateway to the Civic Center in Rancho Santa Fe. A lesser known historic fact is that architect, Frank Lloyd Wright was married at La Morada in 1928, to his beloved Olgivanna, a Russian ballerina. The wedding ceremony took place at midnight on August 25, officiated by Rev. McKnight who brought along his daughter, Evelyn, who was able to share with me her own first-hand account of the wedding ceremony.

Looking Ahead
I was approached by Drexel Patterson, principal of Island Architects in La Jolla, to facilitate agreements with several historic homeowners in Rancho Santa Fe to open up their homes as part of a prestigious home tour during the weekend of September 28/29. So far we have two homes that will be a part of the educational architectural tour organized by the nationally recognized Institute of Classical Architecture and Arts. It is an honor and a privilege to be asked to act as tour guide and local expert on Lilian Rice's architectural work in Rancho Santa Fe.