Tours, travels, hikes and journeys!

Archive for February, 2015

The Marston House, San Diego, CA

On Feb. 20th, I toured the Marston house in the north end of Balboa park.

Although I wasn’t fond of our main tour guide (more about that later), I’m glad I went to see it. The house was built in 1905 for George Marston, his wife, Anna Gunn Marston and their five children. It was built by William Sterling Hebbard and Irving Gill in the Arts and Crafts style. It is settled on 5 acres with lawns, formal gardens and canyon gardens. The house is 8500 square feet with 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms. It has patios, porches and a sleeping porch. It is unusual in that all the main rooms have thresholds you have to step over to get into and out of the rooms, so the maid wouldn’t spread dust into the rooms while sweeping. The walk in closets are quite different for that era and have windows in them to let in circulation between the closet, bedroom and hallways. It had solar heating, many built in shelves, benches and cabinets.

Mary Marston donated the house to the city in 1987 and lived in it until her death way past the age of 100. Two other daughters lived past their 100’s, too. The house was designed to support good health and hygeine. Many of the rooms are made with old growth redwood paneling. Although the upstairs bedrooms used that same wood, they were painted over to help cut down on mold, to promote the family’s health.

George Marston was a civic leader, owner of the only department store in San Diego, a philanthropist and quite the conservationist. He rallied support in San Diego to keep the coastline for private owners vs. business development. He sat on the board that started the Public Library system in San Diego. He Founded the Historical Society (Now the History center), founded the San Diego branch of the YMCA, helped promote and guide Balboa Park, donated the land for Presidio park and built the museum there, gathered donations and donated himself to create Torrey Pines State Reserve, and also Anza Borego Desert State Park.

Here are pictures of the outside of the house:
View from the north
24 north side of house

View from the west, including the entrance sign and a great close up of the tree bark 🙂
1 sign

2 tree bark

3 west side of house

And the view from the East
23 east side of house

The Carriage house and gardens are on the east side of the house.
19 gardens carriage house

The study had incandescent light bulb lamps and many built in bookcases
22 studio

This is a photo of a bedroom, and a walk in closet with built in shelves and dressers, and the window vents. Notice how even bedrooms have interior windows for venting to the hallways.
15 bedroom

10 closet venting

12 interior venting windows

14 closet with air vent window

The bathrooms were unusual in the large number of them. the handrails placed for safety and a sitz bath tub in addition to a regular tub
13 bathroom

The Dining room was on the west side of the house with patios off to the west and large windows looking out. There were beautiful built in pieces in this room as well.
5 dining room built in

4 west patio

There was a butler’s kitchen that was next to the dining room and then the kitchen was to the east of that, to buffer noise from the kitchen. The butler’s room had a box in it that held various buzzer buttons that sounded throughout the house to summon people. The Pantry was also vented to allow air flow and cut down on mold. The kitchen cabinet doors were open under the sink to prevent mold.
9 pantry air vent

6 buzzer box in butlers kitchen

7 kitchen sink

8 pantry

There are porches and sleeping porches off some of the upstairs rooms.
18 sleeping porch overlooking formal gardens

17 porch

The stairs and hallways were quite wide and spacious.
21 wide hallways

11 stairway and bench

20 wide stairs

Several of the upstairs bedrooms are being used for various 100 year anniversary of the 1915 Exposition and the 1935 exposition memorabilia and information about the architects and what Balboa park looked like at that time. The two tour guides governing this part of the house were quite informed and helpful.
16 built in exposition artifacts

I don’t normally complain or put forth criticisms on this blog but our main guide was quite confusing. He spoke as if the people involved were alive right now, so it took awhile to understand what he was saying. He did not like questions and almost exclusively stuck to his main spoil, and in pointing out that the original wall paper and furniture of the house wasn’t there anymore and had been replaced with traditional Arts and Crafts styles he lauded the change, stating that Mrs. Marston would have gone for the gaudy Victorian wall paper and furniture styles of the day. That seemed to me an odd statement to make where a person is showing a historic home. I personally would have appreciated seeing the house as it was originally, but understood that perhaps throughout the years with different organizations care taking the home, with varying attention to care, perhaps it led to the original furniture either being given away to family members or lost to age or disrepair.

This home is large even by modern standards so it must have been huge in those days. So, if you get a chance to tour this house, I recommend you take the time to do so. I’m grateful for all that George Marston did to preserve areas of San Diego.

3rd Tuesday Museum Day Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Yesterday was the Free 3rd Tuesday Museum Day at Balboa Park, in San Diego, CA, so I headed over to go to a couple museums. I had hoped to go to the Japanese Gardens, too, but had saved it for last and oddly, they closed at 3:00 pm. So I missed that. I love just walking around Balboa park, and for regular readers of this blog, you’ve seen pictures of my various wanderings there. Sometimes I just go and sit against a tree and read a book. Other times I find various events happening. Yesterday I went into two museums and walked through Alcazar Garden.

The first museum I went into yesterday was the Mingea International Museum. So far, of all the museums I’ve toured, this is my favorite. Yesterday the main exhibit was a lovely photo and display of Black dolls made between 1850-1940, for black family and community and also for the white charges of the African American women. These photos and dolls were from the collection of Deborah Neff. There were photos of white children dressed up and holding these dolls and black children dressed up holding these dolls. I attempted to take pictures of some of the dolls but the lighting was too dark for my phone camera and my knowledge of how to use it. Flash wasn’t allowed in the museum. I loved the attention to detail in the faces and the clothing of those of the dolls clothed, There were dolls depicting all ages, from young to mature. I could feel all the love that had been put into the making and also cherishing of these dolls over the years.

Exhibition of Black Dolls Mingea

The other main collection was called Three on the Edge- Architecture of local architects Kendrick Bango Kellogg, James T. Hubbell and Wallace Cunningham. All three were influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. There were photos, models and a film to display their work. I didn’t take any photos, sorry. I especially loved James T. Hubbell’s work and am going to look into traveling to his community. I love how rounded, whimsical and earth based his work appears, and resonated with it more than the other two architects who use more modern, glass and concrete styles. Their buildings are certainly beautiful and striking but I just related more to the sculptured and rounded look of Hubbell’s work. Here is a link to his foundation at Santa Ysabel, CA.

In wandering through Mingea, I did take a few photos. There were displays of old toys, beautiful carved wood furniture, sculptures and bowls, even beautiful bowls made from leaves. I attempted a photo of that but it didn’t turn out well.

Here is a photo of a baby doll house from 1750. The detail in the rooms, figures and furnishings was amazing.

1750 Baby Doll House Mingea Museum

The piece next to the doll house was this very magical piece called “Palace for Wednesday”, made by Alice Hudson in 1981. It was displayed on a revolving base so all of it could be seen. From top to bottom, there were so many rooms, figures, and actions depicted. The fabric used was very delicate and otherworldly. A young woman viewing it with me explained that she often comes to visit it and thinks of it often. I was grateful to have experienced the moment with her.

Alice Hudson 1981 Palace for Wednesday Mingea

In art class I had loved creating linoleum block prints and working with batik so was stunned by an entire wall of batik tiles from 1900-1925. They looked like art creations as they are, and not just as a tool to create art.

1900 to 1925 Batik tiles

There was a display about beads from different countries and different eras. I took some pictures to use as inspiration to make some necklaces but the photos didn’t turn out clear enough to share.

The next museum I visited was the San Diego Art Institute. Their main exhibition right now is called “San Diego Keeps Her Promise: Balboa Park at 100”. There were new works made from various media to commemorate the Balboa Park Exposition Centennial, representing past, present and future. One of the displays explored the Nudist Colony that used to be in Zorro Garden at the park. There was a small room display showing funny caricatures depicting how the US stole Panama from Columbia. My favorite piece in the main exhibition was called “Balboa Stories”. Brian Goeltzenleuchter and Charmaine Banach interviewed people asking them about stories from their visits to Balboa Park. They then gathered scents from those places, mixing up similar scents and placing them in bottles. The bottles were color coded, and you could smell them and then refer to a map to see where the scent came from and a line from their story. There was a stack of maps so you could take one and follow the scents if you chose to.

Balboa Stories Art Institute 100 Year exposition exhibit

Balboa stories 2

Lastly, I walked through Alcazar Garden. It is presently under renovation but there were a couple plots planted for spring. This is a picture of a lovely fountain in front of one of the garden plots.

Alcazar Garden fountain

I hope you have enjoyed my walk through Balboa park and a couple of its museums. If you are local, go check it out!!!

More Interesting Sights In My Present Neighborhood

I’ve been on my present “leap” journey since Nov. 1, 2012, when I leaped out of Seattle, WA, on faith, thinking I’d be settled somewhere in a month or so. Meanwhile almost 118 weeks later, I’m still “on the road”. I’ve stayed in some homes/hotels/b in b’s for a night, some for a weekend, some for weeks, some for months. I’ve been in OR, No. CA, So. CA, UT and AZ.

Along the way, I’ve always found beauty, something to catch my eye, fill my heart. So here are some more sights I’ve gathered along my walks in my present neighborhood in San Diego, CA.

Many people use more desert plants here and right now there are many succulents flowering. I love the difference in color, texture and shape.

Succulants flowering 9

Succulant flowering 1

Succulant flowering 2

Succulant flowering 7

Succulants flowering 3

Succulants flowering 4

Succulants flowering 5

Succulants flowering 6

Succulants flowering 8

I walked by several poinsettia bushes. I’ve kept them before, after the holidays, as house plants but never seen them as bushes.

Pointsetta bush

One house had a very whimsical but random display of little children’s toys in both their front “flower” beds.

Flower bed play ground

I noticed these lovely garden walls, and enjoyed seeing the textures, and the different shapes.

More borders

Interesting border

It’s always interesting to me to see how people choose to decorate their yard, what kind of adornments they choose, what paths, what plants and colors, etc. I realize that it is a long time investment, so there must be great thought put into the decisions. These two yards are interesting to me. The one seems to speak of the race between the tortoise and the hares and yet there seems to be a chorus of howling wolves to announce the winner, all set amidst the weeds:

The tortoise and the hare judged by the wolves

And this one just had a random, VERY random collection of statues all around the flower bed and behind it was another eagle collection surrounding their American flagpole.

The collection

Then there were these two very different plants that seemed so dramatic and pretty to me. The one reminded me of a hula dancer.

Pretty plant

Hula palm

I walk my host’s dog and have been extending our walks longer and longer and finding new streets to add to our stroll. There is a park at the bottom of our street and it has a dirt path that leads north through a wild area, and onto a street. For a brief moment, I can forget I am in the city and imagine I am in the middle of a forest 🙂

Neighborhood wild space

Hope you have enjoyed my present neighborhood and the fruit of my walks. If you look with eyes to see, you can find beauty everywhere! Thanks for joining me.

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