Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Almost spring

Spring is almost here and as some of you may know March is designated as Women’s History month. To celebrate, and in recognition of Lilian Rice, I am dedicating this month’s blog to her memory. Please take a moment to remember a woman who influenced your life in a positive way. We each create history everyday, but most of us are not remembered in the public consciousness. However, it does not diminish the impact one person may make. March is also the month of my birthday, and my mother's, so two more reasons to celebrate.

Historic Homes

Bowly and Ethel Le Huray

January and February were busy with presentations and two site visits of historic homes in Rancho Santa Fe. One of the homes is newly known to me and I am proud and honored to be conducting and writing a historic report for the current owner of the 1923 Lilian Rice designed residence located on Paseo Delicias. The home is hugely significant as a local historic resource as it was the first residence to be built by Lilian Rice outside of the Civic Center of Rancho Santa Fe. It began as a small two bedroomed cottage of wood frame and stucco. Typical of Rice it is simply designed with a blend of Hispanic and Pueblo elements. The first owner was Bowly Le Huray, an east coast retiree who owned a printing business in New York. He could well be the “poster boy” for the land company who was the developer of Rancho Santa Fe. Through some investigative work I traced his family line to his grandson who lives in Washington State and was thrilled to get a photograph of the home as it appeared in 1926 with Bowly and his wife Ethel in front of the home.
Two naval officers looking at the rear of the McDonald home, 1945

The rear of the Belle Claggett home, 1945
The second home tour was two historic homes in the Ranch as contenders for the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art’s annual home tour. We looked at the McDonald residence which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Belle Claggett house, which is a Lilian Rice design. The decision has not yet been made if the homes made the cut, but we enjoyed the guided tours of each special home. The McDonald home has a unique history as it was utilized as a convalescent home for ambulatory wounded Naval officers during World War II.

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

The "Living Room" of the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe
The sale of The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe to JMI Realty has been made public knowledge and the word is that the group want to honor the original Lilian Rice design. I have been invited to give a presentation to the staff and employees at the Inn, to educate, and I hope entertain them, about the important role that Lilian Rice played, not only in the community of Rancho Santa Fe, but also in the architectural fabric of Southern California. Lilian made her home in one of the cottages that is now part of the Inn’s rooms. Known now as Wisteria Cottage it used to be Lilian’s escape from the responsibilities of her role as resident supervisory architect. Her roommate and office draftsman, Olive Chadeayne, in a recorded interview with historian Harriet Rochlin, said that Lilian played the piano in that tiny cottage to relieve work stress. It must have been quite a sight and sound.
Wisteria Cottage, formerly Lilian Rice's home.