Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holiday Season

Where did 2012 go?

It always comes as somewhat of a shock when I sit at my desk to write the final blog post for the year. The past 12 months flew by and, no doubt, so will the next. I’m relieved to note that the world did not end, but as a result I’ll have to pull up my boot straps and hammer out several news stories that are pending before the end of December. But at the top of my list is my blog.

My daughter, Juliana, a freshman at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, returned home for the holidays. and what a bright light she is in our family. Following a major in landscape architecture, Juliana made the Dean’s list for this first semester proving that she is off to an excellent start and thriving in her new environment. On her return home, she sketched out a lovely work of art that reminds us daily to feel, and show, our gratitude to each other.

Setting the Historic Record Straight


The beautifully restored headstone of Lilian Jeannette Rice
Today, December 22, is the 74th anniversary of Lilian Rice's passing and I am so grateful for those who stand by my shoulder and continue to support my efforts to uphold Rice's fine reputation and to shine a light on her work. This year has proven to be a stellar one with a major project being the correction of Lilian Rice’s headstone. For many years the headstone was inscribed with 1888 as her birth year. This modification could not have been done without the generosity of several individuals who contributed funds for the installation of the headstone and a public advertisement that records the event. Heartfelt thanks go out to Miriam W. Sellgren, a living descendent, by marriage, of the Rice family, who funded the installation, and Tara Tarrant of La Jolla Stone Etching, who did such a beautiful job on the correction to the headstone. Additional thanks go out to Jim Thomas, whose mother, Bertha Kreuziger, worked alongside Rice in the 1920s in Rancho Santa Fe, Cindy Klong of the Rancho Santa Fe Fine Art Guild, the Rancho Santa Fe Pharmacy and Gift Store–who are the exclusive retailers of my book on Rice, and Holcombe Homes, whose combined efforts underwrote the advertisement.

The historic event gained some media exposure. Here is a link to a press release published in the RSF Review, an article published in,  and coming soon will be the link to a UT San Diego article that will run next week. The correct date on Lilian Rice’s headstone is a huge step forward in preserving history that is accurately documented. Next on my to do list of corrections to the historic record is the amendment of the spelling of Lilian Rice’s name on many official historic registers, notably the National Historic Register and the Register of Local Historic Resources, both of which have documents filed that have major flaws. Thanks to Scott Moomjian for his advice on who to contact to make this official. 

The Ecke Ranch house

The Lilian Rice designed Ecke Ranch house almost completed, 1935
An ink scratchboard sketch of the home after the 1969 remodel.

How the ranch house looks today

The Ecke land deal is set to close and the Lilian Rice ranch house will have a new owner: Leichtag Foundation. It has been a privilege to delve into the storied past of the ranch house that was built during the depression by Lilian Rice. The home has undergone two remodels since its initial construction in 1935. One was by John Minchin, in 1969, and the second by Stuart Resor about 20 years later. Of interest is that Minchin had strong ties to Lilian Rice. His mother, Marjorie Smith, lived in National City and was a neighbor of the Rice family. She was a child when Lilian was active on the design and construction of Rancho Santa Fe and retold to her son the story of how Lilian would drive up to the ranch and take her along for the ride. This rare first-hand recollection adds weight to my argument that Rice should be credited for the design and the implementation of the design of the village of Rancho Santa Fe, and not be labeled as someone who lied about her involvement to deliberately mislead others to gain more lucrative commissions. This is a gross error and a misrepresentation of Rice’s fine character.

Another notable factoid is that Stuart Resor retold to me a conversation that he had with Paul Ecke Sr., at the time the biggest supplier of poinsettias in the world. When Resor asked him what was the most memorable aspect of his life, Paul Sr. replied modestly that seeing Halley’s Comet streak through the sky in 1910 was his most cherished memory.

The William Krisel Papers 


Rice's rendering for the proposed Krisel Family home in Rancho Santa Fe
Yours truly with Bill, in 2009
If you have read my earlier blog posts you’ll know that retired award-winning architect, William Krisel, is both a Lilian Rice fan and a friend of mine. During the same time that Rice was designing the Ecke Ranch house and the San Dieguito Union High School, she was drawing up designs for the proposed Krisel ranch home in Rancho Santa Fe. Although the home was not built, Krisel never forgot the advice given by Rice who admired the then 11 year old’s ability to sketch out changes to the floorplan. The Krisel family lived in Shanghai at that time. “You should become an architect,” she advised. William heeded that advice and in so doing became one of the most prolific architects of the twentieth century. Now William Krisel’s archive is available to the public for the first time. It is held at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

Follow this link to, then scroll down to read an in depth article on Krisel’s collection. “By some estimates, he and his partners are responsible for more than 40,000 units of housing in Southern California, bringing the aesthetics and values of casual indoor-outdoor living to the masses,” notes Laura Dominguez.

Walking Tours of the Village of Rancho Santa Fe

A hand tinted period photograph of the service station in the village of Rancho Santa Fe, circa 1927
Looking ahead to 2013 I will be offering personal guided walking tours of the village of Rancho Santa Fe. The first takes place in the New Year, and was my donated silent auction item to benefit the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center. Going forward a portion of the proceeds of these tours–which will be modestly priced and will include refreshments and a video viewing of Rice’s work–will benefit the RSF Senior Center. There will be opportunities for sponsorship, so please contact me via email for more information.

I welcome followers of my blog, and if you have a blog that you'd like me to follow, I'm happy to reciprocate. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Look out for my next blog in spring 2013 when I will have some exciting news!


  1. Hi. I wanted to thank you for your work to correct Lillian Rice's tombstone. What a fascinating story! I am a historian of US Grant and would like to also thank Miriam Sellgren for funding the stone. Do you have an address for her? There are so many Grant Family links to San Diego and I'm glad to hear that the family continues to do the right thing. Thanks, Tamara Smith (

  2. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?