Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall Forward

Now that fall is officially here I’m looking forward to busy months ahead with presentations booked in October and November, oral histories to conduct, and two books at the proposal stage.

In the news
The new owners of the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe have begun their upgrades and renovations. The Inn’s sale was finalized in April and while the purchase price is confidential, the seller’s broker has estimated the sale would fetch a price in the low- to mid-$30 million range, according to an April RSF Review article. What is widely known is that the new owners will spend $12 million on the renovation. The new ownership group–which includes Rancho Santa Fe residents John Kratzer and John Moores–is passionate about preserving The Inn as “a true community asset and ...a hub of activity for residents, enhance traditions and bring a whole new set of visitors in to experience Rancho Santa Fe,” as noted in this week’s Review.

Perhaps the remodel will take the fireplace, which was modernized in the 1960s, back to its 1923 glory!
When I spoke recently with Dan Martorano of MKA Inc., the lead architectural services who will do the renovations, he said that they wanted to recognize Lilian Rice’s role in the original design of The Inn and to elevate her stature as an important creative element in the success of Rancho Santa Fe. Her little duplex home on the grounds of The Inn, now known as Wisteria Cottage, will be given special attention with touches to the interior that will reflect her personal history. It was exciting when John Kratzer spoke to me and welcomed my input on Lilian Rice’s background and the role she plays in The Inn’s history.

The San Dieguito Academy

Sara Motamedi's beautiful sketch that faithfully recreates Rice's original rendering.
Over the summer I was interviewed by Mike Lewis a reporter who was crafting a feature piece on the proposed November bond measure–Proposition AA–that would raise funds, in part, for the renovations of the Lilian Rice designed high school, formerly San Dieguito Union High School. If approved, the approximate $448 million borrowing plan would pay for technological upgrades, campus renovations and a new middle school. Here is a link to his story that ran recently ran in North Coast Current.com.

Mitt and Anne Romney

Fin de la Senda, La Jolla. Home to Mitt and Anne Romney
Last month I was privileged to meet up with three special people, two sisters and a brother, who once lived in what is now Mitt and Anne Romney’s ocean front home in La Jolla, the former residence of Mrs. Charles E. Sterns. The family–The Lipes–lived there from 1956-1976. It had only been altered slightly at that time, a room addition had been constructed near the kitchen to create a family room, they told me. In the 1980s when the Van Buskirks owned the house, “they remodeled extensively, making the gracious layout a little more 'modern', ” said Susanna Lipe Aalbers who has photographs of how the home originally looked with most of Lilian Rice’s design work intact. She has very kindly offered to share them with me later this year when she returns to town from her second home. Evidently the interior of the original home, affectionately known as Fin de la Sende (end of the path) had a Persian influence with some lovely hand painted tile which has been salvaged. I can’t wait to see the photos which I will of course share with you!

The Ecke Ranch and Leichtag Foundation

The Rice designed ranch house as it looks today after two remodels, one in the 1960s and the other in 1986
With the proposed sale of the 47 acres of Ecke Ranch property which will close by the end of the year, purchaser, Leichtag Foundation, is very excited about also owning the Lilian Rice designed ranch house that comes with the property. For the past five years I have been working closely with Paul Ecke III as his personal biographer and now have the privilege of serving as archivist for the treasured Ecke family and business collections. The Ecke property is in excellent hands with Leichtag, led by President and CEO, Jim Farley, who has a passion for the venerable history of the Ecke family and the property. It is my honor to also be working closely with Jim in documenting oral histories of some of the local people who have been connected with the ranch, especially the Japanese farmers who once tended the nearby acreage. My first interview is tomorrow with Tak Sugimoto. I’m excited beyond words to say the least for this fantastic opportunity.

Proposals and Presentations

To date I have crafted proposals for two books. One, a thorough biography of Lilian Rice, is under review by a respected publisher. The other, a virtual home tour of some of the most impressive Rice estate homes and those inspired by Rice’s designs, is in the hands of my agent. I will let you know in my next blog if either of these projects move forward.

On October 14 I will address the Carlsbad Historical Society at Carlsbad by the Sea Retirement Community. My lecture is titled, Rancho San Dieguito to Rancho Santa Fe. I'll be tracing the story of the former Spanish land grant and its surviving adobe haciendas, through the railroad's failed eucalyptus tree groves, to Lilian Rice's chapter as the supervisory architect who transformed the area into the lovely upscale enclave that remains today. November 15, I'll address a group of local interior designers at the Kravet Showroom in San Diego, my presentation will be on Lilian Rice's life and work.