Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring came in like a lion and is still roaring

Another Year Is Flashing By

I can't believe that it is almost June and my son, John Paul, a high school freshman, is starting to feel summeritis for the first time. For me 2013 represents a landmark year as it is special anniversary, one that celebrates 10 years of my community feature writing. While I reflect back on over 1,000 interviews during this period I realize what a priceless gift and a privilege it has been to serve as the voice for so many remarkable people. I’m anticipating that I will host a special event in the fall to retell some of the highlights from articles of some of these very special interviewees. It continues to be a great source of pride that I not only live in a beautiful coastal region but that I am surrounded by so many talented neighbors.

A Monumental Work Award

Each year SOHO, the county’s largest and California’s oldest continuously operating preservation group, has saluted individuals and groups who have helped preserve important aspects of the county’s heritage.
I was honored to be one of eight recipients this year and was proud to receive my award, "A Monumental Work Award" on May 23 at Point Loma Assembly. The family at SOHO did a beautiful job in feting all of the winners. Bruce Coons, SOHO executive director wrote, “[Diane] brought to highlight Rice’s importance in the architectural history of the region, thereby contributing to the advancement of historical knowledge in the community as well. Her ongoing mission to share the Lilian Rice story is admirable and her efforts to enlighten the public on her life and legacy are to be commended.”

Photo by Sande Lollis featured in SOHO's 2013 People In Preservation Award brochure
That same day I also received an award from County Supervisor, Dave Roberts. This official Certificate of Recognition was in honor of my achievements. The county award was, “In appreciation of your advancement of historical knowledge about Lilian J. Rice and her importance to the architectural history in our community." How nice to be recognized in stereo. Read about it in the Rancho Santa Fe Review.

Where Did This LJR Obsession Begin?

San Dieguito Academy captured by Sara Motamedi's fine hand

Last month I was interviewed by the award-winning travel writer, Elaine Masters, founder of Trip Wellness, for her blog radio show on all things related to travel. She asked me how I first became fascinated with Ms. Rice. "It was my community feature writing that first brought Lilian Rice into my radar," I responded. As I researched the history of San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas I discovered that the school was a WPA project and was designed in 1934 by a lady architect, Lilian Rice. As I delved into the history of the Paul Ecke Ranch House, for a subsequent story, it brought to light that it, too, was designed by Lilian Rice that same year. In an effort to find out more about this woman who intrigued me–how many women were snagging architectural commissions at the height of the Great Depression?–I soon realized that there were no books available for my research and that I’d have to write that book myself, which I did.

Presenting at Kravet

Yours Truly with the Kravet team: Elliot, Jan and Mechele

Phyllis Van Doren of San Diego Home/Garden
In February I was honored to kick off Kravet, Inc.’s monthly Third Thursday guest presenter series for 2013. I was welcomed by an engaged and interested audience of designers, artists, architects and writers. It was fun to make the acquaintance of Phyllis Van Doren and Kim O’Donnell from San Diego Home/Garden Magazine and to meet the friendly and very knowledgeable staff at Kravet.

New Projects

March came in like a lion and has been roaring along since, with no signs that the blustery momentum will be letting up anytime soon. For my LJR project I am working on two books: One which is a more comprehensive biography and will release in spring 2014 just in time for the 125th anniversary of Rice’s birth, and the second which is a lavishly illustrated coffee table book which will showcase the work of local architects who use LJR’s philosophical approach to their work–the indoor/outdoor spacial flow—or mirror her design approach with their own interpretation of a simply elegant Mediterranean type home. It is very exciting to get to know the architects and to see their level of commitment and artistry in their work. Look out for a release also in 2014.

Diane Welch Celebrity Walking Tours

Putting on the glitz, 1920s style outside the Croquet Cottage at The Inn. Photo by Diana Cavagnaro
April kicked off my very first “Diane Welch Celebrity Walking Tour of Rancho Santa Fe”. The weather was perfect as I headed up a group of 15, on Earth Day, April 21. In our group was County Supervisor Dave Roberts, and his son, Alex; Diana Cavagnaro, celebrity milliner; Leslie Hoffman, portrait photographer; Carla Di Mare, president of the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center; Rita Orland, founder of Architours; Kim O’Donnell, of San Diego Home/Garden; travel writer, Elaine Masters, and more. Lillian Cox, feature writer for The Coast News, joined us; her story is in this week’s paper and will run in the RSF News next week. Click on the heading to read my story in the RSF Review.

A couple visit the village of RSF in 1927
The row houses circa 1927
We strode out briskly walking the few blocks that represent the Village of Rancho Santa Fe. Guests learned historic detail, absorbed the beauty of the buildings and the landscaping, and laughed at entertaining facts about life in the village in the 1920s and 30s. Spotlighted were the many celebrities who came to Rancho Santa Fe as a refuge from the bustle of Hollywood, several of them lived in Rice designed estate homes, and all of them stayed at La Morada (now The Inn). These tours will be offered by demand for groups of 10 up to 20 and are in partnership with The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. The two-hour tour cost is $40 per person, it includes refreshments at The Inn, and proceeds benefit the senior center. Please email me if you’d like to book a tour

Actress, Corinne Griffith once owned the RSF Administration Block
Joseph Schenck, MGM movie director made RSF his home in the 1920s.
Movie stars, the Talmadge Sisters, also lived in the Ranch. The community of Talmadge was named for them.

May was an exciting month when I gave a personal walking tour for key staff at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe on May 13. It was a lively, engaged group and I had a lot of fun sharing interesting facts and anecdotes about the village of Rancho Santa Fe and The Inn. I also gave a presentation on the History of The Del Mar Fairgrounds to the Carlsbad Historical Society at Carlsbad-By-The-Sea retirement home.

The Inn when it was known as La Morada, circa 1923