Balboa Park History 1971

January 7, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:5. The San Diego Stadium Authority yesterday approved a proposal to add 6,000 permanent seats to the east end of the stadium and referred the plan to city staff for study.

January 7, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:6-7. Park Board Backs Chicano Planning; Federation’s proposal to use water tank in Balboa Park now up to City Council.

A proposal of the Chicano Federation of San Diego County to transform an unused water storage tank in Balboa Park into a Mexican-American culture center was approved by the city Park and Recreation Board yesterday.

Jessie Ramirez, executive director of the federation, has requested that the city allow his organization to use the tank, which is a large concrete structure with a wood roof, for promoting Chicano art.

Contemplated for the mini-center are various forms of Mexican-American art, including painting, leather work, music, dancing and murals on the walls of the two-story structure.

After voting to “approve the federation’s occupancy” of the unused water tank, the park board referred the matter to the City Council for the final decision.

Ramirez also told the Balboa Park Committee of the park board that the federation hopes to eventually build a replica of an Aztec pyramid somewhere in the park.

In other action, the board reviewed plans for a new mall in front of the Old Globe Theater in the park. The proposed mall will involve elimination of several palm trees and shrubs, and installation of concrete walkways around expanded lawn areas.

According to a city spokesman, the trees will be replanted elsewhere in the park. He said the project, which includes special lighting, raised planters and a new irrigating system, would result in increased open area.

Board members next turned to the question of whether Balboa Park Bowl is worth salvaging.

The Bowl, which for years was the site of the Starlight Opera, has fallen into disrepair. The board asked city staff to prepare a report on the cost of bringing the facility up to usable standards.

January 9, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1. San Diego Zoo installing higher fence to prevent new tapir attack.

Higher fencing around the home of the Baird’s tapirs at the San Diego Zoo was being installed yesterday to prevent the recurrence of a mishap which hospitalized three persons Wednesday.

A Zoo spokesman said it no longer will be possible for visitors to extend their arms into the enclosure.

This is the mating season for the Zoo’s pair of Baird’s tapirs, a fact apparently unknown or disregarded by Mrs. Shirley Wilson, 21, of Claremont, who reached over a waist-high fence to pet the male.

The tapir bit down on one of her fingers and when he wouldn’t let go keeper Richard Sweeney, 40, leaped into the enclosure to help.

The 500-poung animal, a relative of the horse, turned on Sweeney and inflicted severe wounds on an arm and thigh.

An associate curator of animals, Clyde A. Hill, 35, seeking to rescue Sweeney, suffered deep wounds on both hands. The tops of two fingers on his right hand were severed, but restored through surgery.

All of the victims were reported in satisfactory condition at Mercy Hospital, where each underwent surgery for repair of the bite wounds.

A Zoo spokesman said, although the tapirs had never before bitten anyone, the animals are dangerous during the mating season.

January 10, 1971, San Diego Union, E-1:1-2. Badminton players in Federal Building.

January 15, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3:1. City Council told yesterday plans and specifications for $3 million planetarium and hall of science are complete and now is the time to sell bonds.

City councilmen yesterday were told that plans and specifications for a $3 million planetarium and hall of science proposed for Balboa Park are complete and now is the time to sell bonds to fund the project.

According to William Gerhardt, parks and public buildings director, the city’s bond counselors have advised that interest rates now are favorable for the project, which has been in the planning stage since 1968.

“This is the time to hit the market. We don’t think it will improve,” said Gerhardt.

Councilman agreed to place on their January 23 docket a resolution approving the plans and specifications and seeking bids for the construction of the planetarium and adjoining exhibit hall.

Once it is known how much the project will cost bonds will be sold.

“The planetarium will be the first of its kind in the world,” councilman were told yesterday.

William D. Bridge, executive director of the San Diego Hall of Science, described the proposed facility.

In addition to a 350-seat “space theater,” there will be 8,000 square feet of science exhibit room,” said Bridge.

Bridge said a computer operated “star ball” and 70mm projection system will allow a visitor to the planetarium to travel anywhere in the heavens within 9.3 million miles of the sun.

The zoom projection system and the planetarium’s tilted dome will give the visitor the effect of being in space, said Bridge.

Bridge told councilman the star ball’s 10,000 stars will be supplemented by films which can be superimposed in such a way as to simulate actual landing on the moon and close inspection of the stars and planets.

Bridge’s presentation was interrupted by councilman asking how much the planetarium will cost the taxpayers.

“It can be self-supporting,” said Gerhardt.

He described how the planetarium is to be funded.

The Planetarium Authority, an independent body set up by the city and county jointly to draft a plan for the project, will sell bonds and build the planetarium.

In order to sell its bonds, the Planetarium Authority enters into an agreement with the city whereby the city promises to lease the planetarium from the authority. The Planetarium Authority will own the building and pay a nominal lease to the city for the ground on which the planetarium is built.

The amount of money the city will agree to pay annually to lease the planetarium depends upon the cost of the bonds, said Gerhardt. The annual lease payment will be equal to the principal and interest on the bonds.

Over a 30-year period, this amount would be between $200,000 and $250,000 a year, depending on the rate of interest to be paid.

To get back the cost of leasing the planetarium, the city will enter into an agreement with the Hall of Science. The Hall of Science will operate the planetarium and collect admission, which goes directly to the city to pay the annual lease payment.

January 29, 1971, San Diego Union, B-4. Chicano Cultural Center Plan Okayed.

As a result of City Council action yesterday, a large concrete tank which once held the entire water supply for the 1915 Pan American Exposition [sic} in Balboa Park, will be renovated to accommodate the Chicano Federation, Inc., which plans to paint the interior with murals depicting San Diego’s Mexican heritage.

February 3, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:6-7. City Council approved plans for planetarium and hall of science yesterday; $3 million project in Balboa Park called “first of its kind.”

Plans for a $3 million planetarium, termed “a first of its kind,” were approved by the City Council yesterday, and bids were called for its construction in Balboa Park.

The building, containing 46,805 square feet of floor space will be located across from the Natural History Museum and adjacent to the Plaza de Balboa.

One wing will house a 8,250-square-foot exhibit hall and the other wing will hold a 355-seat planetarium and a 120-seat lecture hall.

The computer-controlled planetarium is capable of projecting more than 10,000 stars, the planets and special effects on the walls of the Space Theater, City Manager Walter Hahn said.

The planetarium equipment, being manufactured by Spitz Laboratories, Inc., represents “a first of its kind” in design, Hahn said. It should be completed by September.

The three-level central section of the building will contain a technical reference library, classrooms, an exhibit hall, shop, administrative offices, and other support facilities.

Financing will be from the sale of revenue bonds to be issued by the San Diego Planetarium Authority after a firm construction cost figure is established by sealed bids but before a construction contract is awarded.

However, the planetarium projector is being financed through a $35,000 grant from the Fleet Foundation.

City bond counselors approved the project, in planning since 1968, after a favorable turn in the bond market several weeks ago.

February 17, 1971, Park and Recreation Board Minutes.


  1. Planetarium – Association to advertise for bids: On February 2, 1971, City Council approved an agreement for the design of San Diego Planetarium and Hall of Science. Plans and specifications have been completed and approved.

February 10, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1. Figures restored — panel shows triumph over Del Prado No-sayers, by Michael Scott Blair (illus.).

Fifty gallons of bubbling green rubber slopped into a plaster and fiber mold in one of the final stages of a dream in concrete for Balboa Park.

The green rubber slowly set hard to become the pattern from which the ornate decorations are being cast for the new Casa del Prado, which is rapidly doing a Phoenix-like rebirth on the site of the old Food and Beverage Building..

“This is probably the most relaxed meeting we ever had. Now we know that the job of replacing the beautiful moldings of the old building will be finished,” said Mrs. Frank (Bea) Evenson, chairman of the Committee of 100.

The committee members were holding a luncheon in the workshops of the L. J. Ninteman Construction Company, surrounded by dusty benches and a plaster-covered floor.

“Isn’t this just marvelous,” said Mrs. Evenson.

Plaster columns and green rubber cornices; cherubs; bunches of grapes and scroll work littered the workshop. More than 1,800 pieces will ultimately be made from ore than 400 different shapes of mold.

The Committee of 100 made it a goal to save the ornamental decorations from the old Food and Beverage Building and make sure that the new building bore the same appearance.

“Officials told us that it just could not be done. The people of San Diego have shown them that it can,” said Mrs. Evenson.

The building is being constructed through a public bond issue and will cost $3.5 million. In addition, the Committee of 100 has raised special funds for studies of the feasibility or re-molding the decorations and for some of the special work needed in the reconstruction.

This is the biggest reconstruction of such ornate work ever undertaken in the county. A comparable job was done on the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco but only 20 percent of their decoration was retained while we will save more than 95 percent here,” Mrs. Evenson said.

The Ninteman company was involved in the San Francisco project and Dean N. Ninteman, executive vice president of the company said that this really set the pattern for such restoration work.

He explained to the committee members how the old stonework was removed and a plaster cast was made from it.

Rubber is then poured into the cast, filling every detail of the mold. This is used by the Western State Cast Stone Company of Chula Vista to create the final moldings in rock and concrete.

“Some of them will weight up to eight tons, which raises its own construction problems,” said Ninteman.

He explained that usually the building is constructed and the ornate decorations added later. In this case many of the decorations are so large that they are set in place first and the wall poured behind to give a solid bonding between the two.

Ornate work along Zoo drive in Balboa Park is substantially completed and work is about to start on the decorated entrances along Laurel Street, he said.

Under the present schedule it is expected to be finished in October.

“Sometimes we thought we might never see it. But now we know it will be finished,” said Mrs. Evenson.

And then they start again.

“We are already looking toward saving the Electric Building (now the Aerospace Museum), the House of Hospitality and the San Diego Art Institute Building, Mrs. Evenson said.

February 18, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1. Quickly corralled; gorilla gambols outside San Diego Zoo pen (illus.).

Vila, 13 years old, ran away from home yesterday.

She didn’t get far, but she did cause a few hearts to skip a beat.

Vila is a female lowland gorilla and her home is the San Diego Zoo.

“We’re not sure how she did it,” said George Gillespie, chief mammal keeper at the Zoo. “But we’re sure going to find out and fix it so it can’t happen again before we put any gorillas back in that enclosure.”

As near as Zoo officials could determine last night, Vila climbed out of the concrete moat surrounding her enclosure by wedging herself up a corner of the moat.

Then she climbed over the top of a nearby enclosure for chimpanzees and down a tree into a wooded, hilly area at the rear of the exhibit that is closed to the public.

She was captured again after about 15 minutes of freedom when Dr. Charles Sedgwick, resident Zoo veterinarian, shot her with a tranquilizer-dart pistol.

“She was scared to death, hanging around right outside the keeper’s door into the rear of her enclosure when I got there,” Dr. Sedgwick said.

He as called by security officer Louis Franco after a visitor told Franco the gorilla had escaped.

“It was just about closing time (4 p.m.) and there were only about 200 people in the whole Zoo at the time,” Franco said. “We did ask a few people to move to another area but there was no real danger.”

“Gorillas,” the officials agreed, “are very shy animals anyway.”

Still, everyone breathed easier when the sleeping Vila, who weighs about 180 pounds, “because she’s been on a diet,” was safely locked up in her sleeping room.

March 12, 1971, San Diego Union, B-4:4-5. Two city bond issues to finance open space acquisition and to renovate a Balboa Park building for an aerospace museum were considered yesterday for submission to the voters next fall.

April 2, 1971, Christian Science Monitor, Real Estate. San Diego clings to ornate; Casa del Prado duplicates original in minute detail, by P. L. Penney (illus.).

San Diego, Calif. – San Diego likes to bill itself as the “City in Motion,” but it’s determined not to move so fast that it outruns its Spanish heritage or the past glory of the richly ornamented buildings in the city’s Balboa Park.

Some of these buildings are being replaced now, but the baroque architecture is being reproduced in exact detail so that the new structures, more suited to today’s needs, will retain the charming adornment that so endeared them to San Diegans and visitors.

The first of these, the old Food and Beverage Building, was razed in 1968 to make room for a new Youth and Cultural Center.

During the demolition, 185 pieces of ornamentation were carefully removed and stored until the day stone casters could begin the task of recreating the rococo plaster pieces in concrete.

The old Food and Beverage Building, a stately example of Spanish Renaissance architecture, was originally built as one of several buildings to house the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-16 celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal.

Most of the buildings were hurriedly constructed and scheduled for demolition with a year or two after the exposition closed.

They were still standing, however, in 1935 when more structures were added and the city hosted the California Pacific International Exposition.

The Spanish colonial them, emphasized in the first exposition and carried out in modified form in the second, is said to be unequaled in any other group of buildings, including those in Spain.

The Spanish Renaissance architecture reflects the influence of Mexican Indian artisans on the classic Spanish styling.

Since most of the structures were temporary nearly 60 years ago, time has taken its toll and several have been scheduled for replacement.

The Food and Beverage Building, renamed Casa del Prado (House of the City Walk) is scheduled to open in June as part of a redevelopment plan to turn the Prado area of Balboa Park into a complex of museums.

Restoration of the rococo ornamentation is under the direction of Ninteman Construction Company and has posed some problems in recreating the artistry of 1915. But today’s artisans fine particular satisfaction in the work.

John Clark, Jr., foreman of the project and a second-generation stone caster, pointed out that stone casting, especially this job of recreating pieces, is one of the last jobs in construction where a man can still use his creativity.

W Earl Hayden of the city’s special projects department, who is working closely with Mr. Ninteman, said:

“Even with all of the research that Ninteman and the city put into the restoration there were many unknowns because it is such an unusual type of construction.

“The original drawings are still extant, but we were forced to use old photographs because there were so many changed made ‘on the bench’ as the work progressed that were never incorporated into the original designs.

“The pieces that were saved from the original building were completely restored, patched where time had deteriorated them, and even the artists’ original took marks were retained when possible.

“Layers and layers of paint, which probably held the building together, had to be removed.”

In order to duplicate the original in minute detail, the piece is first covered with a half-inch layer of modeling clay.

A plaster mold is then poured over this; and when the clay is removed there is a space between the mold and the original. This space is filled with a rubber compound. The rubber reproduces the original in exact detail — even to the artist’s tool marks. The plaster mold liner, reinforced with hemp, forms a rigid backing for the rubber mold which is filled with a concrete aggregate in the final step.

The concrete can be colored, reinforced, and attachments can be placed in it for hold the completed ornament to the new building.

About half of the ornamental work recurs again and again on the building’s facade so that the rubber molds can be reused. There are numerous cherubs, bishop’s heads, and elaborate scrollwork.

Most of the figures were never keyed and apparently have no significance other than decoration. One figure, however, does represent religion. There is a bas-relief on a woman with two children — one Angle and one Indian — the personified California.

Flanking these are two queen-like figures with scepters that are said to depict the Anglo and Spanish heritage of the state.

The old Food and Beverage Building, relic of a bygone era, has disappeared from the scene, but San Diego has cast in stone the plastered remnants of ornamentation that made it so dear to the hearts of her citizens. Thus, the “City in Motion” has made sure that the glory that was yesterday will live through all tomorrows.

April 9, 1971, (San Diego) Evening Tribune, C-1. Space theater set to take off, by G. L. Schultz (photo of architect’s model of the San Diego Hall of Science and Reuben H. Fleet Planetarium and Space Theater).

The San Diego Hall of Science and Reuben H. Fleet Planetarium and Space Theater, will have something old and something new when it becomes part of the Balboa Park scene next year.

It addition, it probably will be the pattern for planetariums of the future.

Its design already has been adopted for construction of the McGraw-Hill planetarium in New York.

That’s fast acceptance for a design concept which is still approximately 18 months away from becoming a reality in the city where it was formulated.

A sloping floor which provides mono-directional seating (allowing everybody in the space theater to look in the same direction at the same time) is behind it all.

“This is the prototype for this kind of planetarium construction,” said architect George C. Hatch of Hatch, Heimerdinger & Associates. That firm and H. Louis Bodmer, AIA, collaborated on the design of the unique project. Bodmer is a long-time member of the board of directors of the San Diego Hall of Science.

“The sloping floor will allow simulation of space travel and this should be one of the outstanding features of the planetarium,” Hatch said. “The sloping floor construction is being called the San Diego plan for planetarium construction across the country.”

Dr. Edward Creutz, who has been active in getting support for the construction project, came up with the concept.

The project is to be financed through $3 million worth of bonds issued by the Planetarium Authority, a body formed through a joint powers agreement between the city and the county. The arrangement is similar to the one through which San Diego Stadium was financed, Hatch said.

Bids on the bonds are to be opened Tuesday during a joint meeting of the authority and City Council. The bonds will be awarded about two weeks later along with the construction contract, according to William Gerhardt, city director of parks and public buildings.

“It should take about two weeks to get the bonds and construction contract out if everything goes smoothly,” Gerhardt said.

“Then the contractor will have 18 months to complete the project.”

The bond package includes funds to cover the costs of furnishings, financing charges and other contingencies. The estimated construction cost is $1.6 million.

The Reuben H. Fleet Foundation will give the planetarium equipment valued at $350,000. The “star ball” (space transit simulator) will be purchased with these funds.

While the planetarium features inside the building will be new, the building’s exterior will feature some old touches of Balboa Park history.

The building is to be constructed on the south side of Laurel Street, directly across from the Natural History Museum.

“The dome centers on the front door of the museum and the rest of the building will be to the eat, toward Park Boulevard,” Hatch said.

“We’ve designed the entrance to relate to the Plaza de Balboa and the building is designed to fit the Spanish-colonial theme in the park. We’ve used arches and elaborate cresting around the entrance to get this effect.”

Hatch has personally reproduced several pieces of exterior ornaments from the old Food and Beverage Building for use on the planetarium building. In addition, some of the actual ornamentation from the old building will be used in the new project.

“These ornaments aren’t y style, really, but it’s fund making these elaborate pieces,” Hatch said.

“The building will be constructed in two basic sections. One will house the planetarium and space theater and the other will house the exhibit area.”

A lobby will separate the exhibit hall and theater. A lecture hall, with accommodations for 120 persons, also will be off the lobby. There will be office space and a shop area for preparation of exhibits.

The building will have a total of 46,605 square feet, with the exhibit hall utilizing one third of the area, the theater one third, and the space for offices, lecture hall, lobby and shop taking up the balance, Hatch said.

The designers have left an open space area under the floor of the exhibit hall so service lines for gas, compressed air and water can be easily moved to accommodate different kinds of displays.

The planetarium will have seating for 360 persons. The mono-directional seating and use of films to illustrate space phenomena, such as comets, sun spots or an eclipse, will put the planetarium observers where the action is — in space.

“This will be especially true in simulating space flight,” Hatch said. “Be being able to create an Earth horizon, viewers will get a natural look at what the phenomena look like in space.”

About 11 percent of the planetarium dome will be made up of tiny holes, though the use of perforated aluminum.

“This will enable objects behind the dome to be strongly lighted and viewed from inside the dome,” Hatch said.

While some space phenomena will be projected through the standard star ball, a number will be projected from light reflected off thousands of small ball bearings by making optical adjustments to the dome.

The planetarium has been a dream of astronomy buffs here for more than nine years, since civic leaders first started looking for ways to get it built.

The awarding of bids this month will bring it a step closer to reality.

Completion will give San Diego a space-age planetarium to display the wonders of the heavens.

April 14, 1971, San Diego Union, C-6:5. Planetarium authority yesterday sold $3 million in bonds.

April 29, 1971, San Diego Union. Use of Casa del Prado Takes Controversial Turn; meeting held at City Hall, April 28, 1971.

Mayor Curran said he regarded the proposed use of the building by a number of youth-oriented activities on a reservation basis to be “in effect, an exclusive use of the building.”

It was designed to accommodate no one group, but rather to serve as many uses as possible according to William Gerhardt, Park and Public Building director.

Curran is advocating that 4,100 square feet of floor space be given to the Botanical Foundation for their exclusive use for a library and office to house The California Garden magazine.

According to Gerhardt, Casa del Prado cost approximately $50 a square foot to construct, which he acknowledged was “very expensive” construction.

The 4,100 square feet Curran proposes for exclusive use of the Botanical Foundation bears a price tag of about $200,000.

At one point in yesterday’s meeting, Larry L. Sisk, vice president of the Botanical Foundation, asked for exclusive use of three rooms, totaling 4,866 square feet and a first priority on the use of a fourth for fifty-nine meetings a month.

He said there were 37 separate botanical groups, comprising 3,000 members, using the one assembly room for their meetings.

“The room would not then be available to the public,” noted Pauline des Granges, director of the Department of Recreation.

May 3, 1971, San Diego Union. “Many seek space in Casa del Prado,” by Larry Thomas.

May 4, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:5-7. Mayor Curran has asked youth cultural groups who were shut out of a meeting last week on use of Casa del Prado to attend another conference.

May 8, 1971, San Diego Union, B-10:4. City Council voted yesterday to award contract for construction of Hall of Science to the Nielson Construction Company.

Summer, 1971. Committee of 100: Objectives and Accomplishments to Date

Dedicated to the Preservation of Spanish-Colonial Architecture in Balboa Park

These buildings are the only Spanish-Colonial complex in the Western Hemisphere. They are relics of the greatest civic effort of San Diego (a town of 35,000 people at that time) for its 1915 Exposition.

Because of lack of funds, only one building, the California Building, was built to be permanent.

Six different times efforts have been made to save the four temporary buildings.

The Committee of 100 has been the only group which has succeeded in rebuilding a duplicate of an original, the old Food and Beverage Building, now the Casa del Prado.

The Committee of 100 was organized in 1967 when there was talk of replacing the Food and Beverage Building with a modern structure. The Committee went before the City Council to protest.

During the first Civic Luncheon in June 1967 petitions were circulated for signatures to support the preservation of this unique piece of architecture. Support of clubs, organizations and historical groups was solicited.

Members of the City Council were approached and made aware of the people’s desire to preserve the Prado as a complex of Spanish Colonial architecture.

The San Diego City Council adopted the Architectural Policy:


The Committee of 100 asked the City to renovate the Food and Beverage Building, as neglect was causing it to fall into disrepair. The Building was very unsightly for San Diego’s 100th Celebration. City Recreation groups were occupying the building.

The City Manager appointed a Task Force to inspect the Food and Beverage Building. They declared the building unsafe and promptly condemned it and moved all the Park and Recreation groups to the Balboa Park Club.

The Committee of 100 decided to raise funds for a new building.

The Fiesta 1915 (nostalgic of the 1915 Exposition days) helped focus public attention on the plight of the condemned building.

The Committee of 100 appeared:

Before the Park and Recreation Board for their recommendation that a new building should go up on the Food and Beverage Building site. Also, before the City Council to ask for permission to remove 200 specimens of sculpture from the building.

Permission was granted and the City voted to spend $5,000 for photographing and numbering the specimens which it offered to store in the old tank in the park.

The Committee of 100 contracted with and paid Ninteman Construction Co. $10,000 to remove specimens. Another $2,500 was paid by the Committee for research as to the best means of restoration of the pieces of sculpture.

The Building was sold for $25.00, as it was cheaper for the City to sell it than bulldoze it down. Mexican sub-contractors took the Building apart, and the redwood and other materials were trucked down to Tijuana to build houses for the poor.

The City Council and Mayor decided to put a bond issue for replacement of the Food and Beverage Building on the November ballot in 1968.

The Committee for Proposition M was endorsed and supported by Committee of 100 members. This Committee raised more than $14,000 to help pass the bond issue. Specimens from the destroyed building were auctioned at Charley Brown’s Windjammer (this restaurant and food were donated for the affair). Mailers explaining the Proposition were sent to each registered voter.

The newspapers in the city gave tremendous support. All the Youth and Dancing groups, the Botanical Foundation and Garden Clubs, Senior Citizens and P. T. A. gave extra-special help.

The Bond passed by 72 percent.

Richard J. Wheeler was selected by the City as the architect for the new building.

In June 1969 twenty citizens went before the Council asking that the Food and Beverage Building not be replaced on the same site.

A concerned city and the Committee of 100 sent many letters and cards to the Council.

The Mayor and Council decided that it would be replaced on the same site or the voters would be betrayed.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held November 9, 1969.

Nielsen and Co. were awarded the contract in March 1970.

Ninteman Construction Co. was given the ornamentation.

When Section “A,” a big statuary facade on Zoo Drive, a large area of ornament with statuary, was about to be deleted for economy, representatives of the Committee of 100 met with the City Manager, who agreed to replace it.

The Committee raised $75,000 in the summer of 1970 for the replacement of the ornate loggia on El Prado, which had been eliminated from plans without the Committee’s knowledge.

In this building, some 90 percent of the original Spanish Colonial ornamentation is restored.

The new Casa del Prado is now in solid concrete and quite permanent.

The ephemeral building of the 1915 Fair, which captured the love and admiration of generations of San Diegans, is now a permanent asset and a daily reminder of our rich heritage.


The ELECTRIC BUILDING which will become an orphan the minute the Aerospace

Museum moves to the Ford Building. The Electric Building is in just about the same condition as the Food and Beverage Building was.

The HOUSE OF CHARM which is across the street from the Fine Arts Gallery.

The HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY which was given a temporary new lift when the Junior

League restored and painted it.

The Committee of 100 will probably play a great part in the future of these buildings.

June 4, 1971, San Diego Union, B-7:3. The City Council has authorized a land use study of Florida Canyon in Balboa Park.

June 5, 1971, San Diego Union, B-7:1-2. The vision for El Centro Cultural de la Raza is a community of a dozen workshops where graphic artists, ceramists, sculptors, painters, actors, dancers, film makers, musicians, and folk dancers will expound their Mexican-American heritage; at present about all there is to enhance that vision is a large, green concrete tank in Balboa Park’s Pepper Grove; the Chicano Federation leased the structure from the city about 2 months ago.

June 9, 1971, Letter, Dale A. Pursel, Vice Pres., Estimating, Nielsen Construction Company, to City of San Diego, Park & Public Fac. Dept., Community Concourse, San Diego, Calif.

Attention: Project Engineer, Re: Job #785, Casa del Prado, C & CL #53.


Please be advised that providing the Father Serra Memorial Fountain in accordance with C & CL #53, and related drawings, will result in a net increase to our contract of $31,288.00, and an extension of time of performance of sixty (60) calendar days. Following is a breakdown for your information:

Labor $1,928.00

Fringes, Ins., Txs. 744.00

Equipment 239.00

Material 485.00

Rebar, Brawley 187.00

Cast stone, Ninteman 17,422.00 (including art and design work)

Waterproofing, Brown 190.00

Sheet Mtl., Secor-Steele 47,00

Ceramic Tile, Capri 2,200.00

Mech., A O Reed 724.00

Financing 2,751.00


Contr’s fee 4,041.00


Bond 310,00


Enclosed is a copy of breakdown where applicable, for your information. Above price is based on City’s approval of the design and art work, as prepared by Ninteman, and approval and authorization to proceed by June 22.

Very truly yours,


June 22, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:1-2. Work underway for $4.5 million hall of science and planetarium.

June 26, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1, 2-5, B-2:5. Park “trip” described; Countdown goes smoothly for Space Theater here, by Cliff Smith.

The closest thing to a space trip most people now living will ever take is coming soon.

Countdown for the first liftoff is minus 553 days and counting. Barring delays the initial launch will be on Christmas 1972 from the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater in Balboa Park.

Reservations for 360 seats are not taken but additional flights are scheduled almost daily. Itineraries also are open but a typical flight will go something like this:

Excursionists will pay a fare of about $1.25. It will be a smog-free night as they come aboard.

Everyone will have a panoramic, three-dimensional view of the sky extending to the limit of their peripheral vision.

Ignition is followed by the dampened rumble from rocket engines below. The seats shake and an orange glow temporarily lights the near sky. The San Diego skyline disappears.

As the ship turns into earth orbit, passengers will get their first view of the home planet. Coasting around earth, passengers make a passing inspection of an orbiting laboratory.

Rockets are reignited and the burn puts the ship into trans-Mars injection. As the firmament rotates a meteor shower occurs.

A midcourse correction takes the ship safety through the asteroid belt. Passengers get a look at a planetoid 50 miles away.

The Mars orbit insertion burn is initiated. The ship is programmed for the slingshot technique. It circles Mars and is whipped with a gravity assist from the red planet onto a course for Mercury.

An evasive maneuver enables us to avoid an approaching comet. The comet’s luminous tail seems infinite. A telescope aboard zeros in on the murky atmosphere of Venus.

Atmosphere-free Mercury is better seen. We pass within 600 miles of the innermost planet and are able to see the 45 percent lighted by the sun.

On the way home there is a different, ever-changing view of the stars. Powered descent initiation brings another rumble and seat-shaking episode.

The touchdown is soft. The Grand Tour is completed. The two-month’s trip has required less than an hour in the Space Theater. The experience has seemed incredibly realistic.

The theater will be part of the San Diego Hall of Science. Construction of the complex is underway now south across El Prado from the Natural History Museum.

Completion of the $4.5 million facility has been assured by a $350,000 gift from the Fleet Foundation and by the sale of $3 million in bonds to be repaid by theater admissions.

Has this removed the need for raising of funds for the project.

“No,” replied William D. Bridge, executive director of the Hall of Science organization. “We are facing many large expenditures between now and the time the new facility starts earning money.

“Extra staff will have to be employed to provide a computer program for the space theater and exhibits for the Hall of Science.

“This is to be done through a membership appeal made to the citizens of the community to participate in a community project of startling originality and interest.

“Directors of the hall believe it will rank among other planetariums as the San Diego Zoo ranks among other zoos of the world.”

The Hall of Science organization is a nonprofit corporation composed of leaders in education, science, religion, industry, business and government of the San Diego area.

Bridge said the hall is dedicated “to the enjoyment of learning and the development of scientific knowledge.”

July, 1971, Concrete Products, 30 (incomplete) Western States Cast Stone Co. recreates structural landmark; firm pre-casts nearly 2,000 pieces of ornate sculpture work for Casa del Prado in San Diego, Balboa Park (illus.).

A Chula Vista, Calif., precast concrete company is making a major contribution toward rebuilding one of San Diego’s monuments to a colorful past.

The work being done by Western States Cast Stone Co. might be called “instant sculpture.” However, that is not quite accurate because of the long hours and effort required for the unique project centered at beautiful Balboa Park in the heart of San Diego.

Western States, working with L. J. Ninteman Construction Co. of San Diego, has been recreating in concrete the ornate beauty and elaborate trim and sculpture of the park’s old Food and Beverage Building. The new structure named Casa del Prado, intended for use as a cultural activities center, will be almost a duplicate of the exterior of one of the structures built in 1915 for the city’s world’s fair.

None of the buildings were designed to stand more than the few months during the run of the exposition. However, because the structures — constructed mainly of wood and plaster using Spanish mission style architecture — were designed so beautifully by Italian architects and sculptors, the people of San Diego would not allow them to be torn down.

The original fair buildings were put to a variety of uses from museums to entertainment centers as patch after patch and coat after coat of paint were applied to keep the decorations from crumbling. Finally, in the mid-sixties the Food and Beverage Building was in such sad condition that it had to be condemned and was ordered demolished.

At this point, several concerned San Diego residents moved in to save the past from being replaced by modern glass boxes.

In 1968 the citizens formed a Committee of 100 to study the feasibility and costs of recreating the building, complete with 95 percent of its ornaments including statues, sunbursts, vine-covered columns and other trim work.

Working together, Western States and Ninteman devised a method of making molds of the ornamental work . . . . .

August 20, 1971, San Diego Union, B-5:3. Samuel W. Hamill elected president of Botanical Unit.

August 20, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3:8. A $7.3 million bond issue has been proposed for the November ballot funding construction of a western museum in Old Town and remodeling and refurbishment of selected buildings in Balboa Park.

August 25, 1971, San Diego Union, B-2:6. Councilmen will decide tomorrow whether to place a $6.2 million bond issue on the November 2 municipal election ballot to fund construction and rehabilitation of various cultural complexes.

August 27, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3:8. A $2.8 million bond issue for rehabilitation of the Ford Building and construction of an east wing to the Fine Arts Gallery in Balboa Park will go to a vote of the people November 2.

September 1, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:5. Park buildings bond issue due on ballot November 2.

September 5, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:5. On November 2, when voters decide the fate of the $2.8 million bond issue to refurbish the Ford Building and construct an east wing on the Fine Arts Gallery, they will be deciding the future of two outstanding collections.

September 15, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3:5. San Diegans this November 2 will have an opportunity to transform a “white elephant” into a multi-million dollar asset at no additional cost to the taxpayer, according to proponents of Ford Building rehabilitation bond issue.

September 23, 1971, San Diego Union, B-2:1-2. Movie of earth orbit by Apollo crew gift to Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater, by Frank Rhoades.

September 28, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:6-7. The council announced yesterday that Dr. Malcolm A. Love will head the newly-formed Aerospace and Arts Council in support of a $2.8 million bond issue to fund Balboa Park museum improvements.

October 1, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:3-4. City may obtain two top collections; Toulouse Lautrec, vintage plane acquisitions hinge on Proposition A approval.

October 12, 1971, Letter, Chris Mueller, Architectural Modeler and Sculptor, TRAVART, Artistry in Concrete, to Mrs. Frank Evenson, Chairman Committee of 100, San Diego, Calif.

SUBJECT: Deterioration of the staff architectural decorations removed as specimens from the 1915 World’s Fair building known as the Food and Beverage Building. Staff on existing 1915 buildings in Balboa Park, San Diego.

Dear Mrs. Evenson:

In response to your request, I present the following:

The most vivid visual record of the staff specimens condition can be seen in the recorded catalog that the L. J. Ninteman Construction Company, Inc. of San Diego made at the time of their removal from the building in August 1968. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Evenson also made a film of the staff specimens removal at this time.

I will partially describe my apprehension and the danger in removing this neglected deteriorated staff.

Staff is a building material made of a composition of casting plaster and hemp fiber, cast in molds and wired or nailed in place. It never was nor will it ever be a permanent exterior building material.

The Food and Beverage Building’s ornamentation was made of staff, made to last one year in 1915. In August 1968, fifty-three years later, this staff was in an extreme state of decomposing. The City of San Diego had condemned the structure as unsafe, guard rails were placed to keep the public away from the danger and hazards of falling staff. There was visual evidence that more pieces of staff were loose and could fall at any unpredicted moment.

While supervising the removal, I noted that the hemp fiber ties were rotten and had no holding strength, the wires and nails were badly rusted, the wood backing in most cases was so badly eaten by termites that I could crush it with one hand. There were some protected areas where the staff wood and nails were in surprisingly good condition although this percentage was very small. The redwood removed from the structure was in good condition — redwood resists rod and termites. However, redwood was not used behind the staff to support it.

The surface of the plaster was badly pitted with various sizes of holes through it with whole sections gone. This was caused by rain, weather in general, and neglect in maintenance. There was a type of casein paint used at some undetermined time. This was very scaly, powderlike and peeling, adding little to surface preservation or as a water repellent to the staff..

In removing the specimens, many crumbled to bits. The largest finial that was rigged ready to remove, fell apart when the crane made its first gentle attempt to lift it. It disintegrated practically into dust and cascaded like a waterfall over the surrounding braces. This bring out the fact that staff of that age, regardless of its appearance, cannot be considered safe. The specimen removal is a hazardous undertaking. Many tries to obtain a specimen had to be made from the three facades to make an assembly that could be restored.

The towers of the church were so dangerous and costly to remove, most specimens were left in place and the decision was it was far safer and less costly to make then new from the original plans. The San Diego Magazine, November 1967, pages 55 and 55, plainly shows this.

The statue “Religion,” the arms and face had fallen away, the balance of the head collapsed and fell down through her neck with the first gentle left of the crane.

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco was a staff and wood structure erected in 1915. It was condemned also and closed off from the public for at least fifteen years before the Food and Beverage Building was condemned. A difference of climate and salt air brought this on more rapidly. Staff is not an exterior building material.

Now, fifty-six years later, the Electric Building, House of Hospitality and other 1915 structures in Balboa Park have been painted and have had some rehabilitation; basically they are of the same construction — chicken wire, nails, baling wire, hemp fiber, casting plaster, wood and paint. Paint gives the staff the appearance of being sound and safe but paint has no structural value. It preserved the surface of the staff ornamentation to some extent. Paint sealed the surface; however, moisture going in through the numerous cracks is also sealed in between the exterior and interior walls which rusts the nails and wire, rots the hemp fiber more quickly and it also softens the plaster.

The sagging and misalignment of these buildings clearly show the various stresses that are at work slowly but surely bringing them down. I know they are all substandard structures and that the present building codes would not allow this type of construction for public use today.

I do not have the original 1915 cost of these buildings but the point here is that if over a period of fifty-six years, this cost was pro-rated, how cheap for a year’s service would it be? To expect more low-cost service from these tire, overworked temporary structures is putting an undue strain upon them while exposing the public to many hazards, including fire.

Flying termites enter the buildings through cracks and attack the wooden roof beans. I have evidence of a huge sound stage roof collapsing in the motion picture industry. The entire roof fell without warning.

“Shoring up” only loosens the staff more causing more cracks and a shifting of stress and strain elsewhere. It is impossible to make a determination of the safe condition of these buildings without making a study of each square foot of the entire building. It is impossible to get behind the staff and study each plaster tie, nail and wire that attaches it to the wooden frame work. You cannot get between the staff and the inner supports.

My final opinion from experience is that these buildings have outlasted their safety for public use and should be replaced the same as the Food and Beverage Building was replaced with concrete and steel. Much was learned by everyone from the Casa del Prado. This combined experience can reduce cost and misunderstandings in future reconstruction replacements in Balboa Park.

Respectfully yours,

(Signed) Chris Mueller

Architectural Modeler and Sculptor.

October 12, 1971, San Diego Union, A-3. Renaissance of Ford Building sought.

October 12, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1, B-3. Proposition A: Building’s fate rests with vote, by David Brownell.

Squatting on a palisade at the outskirts of Balboa Park overlooking San Diego’s downtown business district, the one “modern” Ford Building has become the city’s white elephant.

Occupying a land area the equivalent of a downtown square block, including the four peripheral streets, the building in recent years has been used for little more than storage and a working area for theatrical set designers and artists.

As the few persons who have had occasion to go inside have found, time has not been kind to the building’s interior. The relatively clean exterior of the buff-colored edifice gives little clue to the shabbiness within.

But then, the building was not constructed to stand forever as a monument to the Ford Company.

The city for awhile considered demolishing the building but the San Diego Aerospace Museum showed continued interest in utilizing the facility.

Currently located in the Electric Building, another temporary structure that predates the Ford Building by 20 years, the museum will move if the voters pass Proposition A on the November 2 Municipal ballot. Proposition A would rehabilitate the building.

According to City Manager Walter Hahn, the Ford Building, now essentially useless, would be worth more than $4 million if restored. The cost of refurbishing the structure is $2.1 million.

When Cris Larsen built the doughnut-shaped Ford Building, it was to have been a temporary exhibit-hall for the Ford Motor Company’s display at the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

Ford vacated the building in December of 1935 and the structure reverted to the city.

In 1936 the building was redecorated and on the interior wall was painted “The March of Transportation” mural which survives today, albeit in disrepair.

The Ford Building was renamed the Palace of Transportation and the mural depicted the development of transportation from the caveman to the 1936 artist’s conception of future rocket travel.

During a brief tour of the building yesterday, a reporter discussed the mural with a scenic artist who is work on sets for the San Diego Opera Company.

“You can tell a theater man painted it,” said the artist Dave West, motioning to a section of the 20-foot high and 450-foot long mural.

“In its day it was great. Not too many went beyond that in that day,” he said.

West raised a question as to the ease with which the original can be saved.

“It was done with dry pigment and animal glue,” said West. “You could remove it with a mop.

“See that horse’s hoof, how white it is. That’s where I tested it with a wet sponge.”

West said the materials used in the mural were extremely short-lived.

“They must have had a crew continually mixing colors.

“One thing is for sure,” said West, looking up at the 35-year mural, “they damn sure knew how to work together.”

Used variously to house war materials and as a school for training defense plant workers, the Ford Building came out of the war years suited for little else than storage.

In the last decade, the mammoth structure has been used for designing, constructing and storing sets for various theatrical productions.

While the building, with its generous skylight, is ideally suited for its most recent use, city officials are quick to admit that the potential of the massive structure is not being realized.

Structurally sound, the giant was built of steel. It is the wood roof and ceiling that need to be rebuilt. Interior walls, which in some places have holes large enough for a man to step through, must be patched. A new floor is needed.

To convert the building for public use again, plumbing must be installed and exits excavated from the central courtyard to the building’s exterior.

In the architect’s preliminary report on rehabilitation of the Ford Building, it was noted that “the most interesting feature will be the restored mural on the inner wall of the main exhibit area.”

October 12, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:7. If voters pass Proposition A and the $2.1 million rehabilitation of the Ford Building goes forward, the people will be saving a treasure few San Diegans have seen and not many know.

October 12, 1971, San Diego Union, B-8. William A Burns urges support for park proposal.

October 13, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3:3. The San Diego Chamber of Commerce yesterday announced its support of Proposition A.

October 13, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3. Elbert S. Purcell writes letter critical of Proposition A.

October 15, 1971, San Diego Union, B-2. Fine Arts Gallery seeks new wing.

October 16, 1971, San Diego Union, B-10:1-2. EDITORIAL: Proposition A Can Halt Trend: Balboa Park is Getting Seedy, supporting Proposition A.

As San Diegans consider the future of their city they must think about safety, convenience, utility, beauty, and culture.

Proposition A on the November 2 general election ballot addresses itself to the latter. The proposition seeks authorization for a $2.85 million bond issue. Of the total, $2.1 million would be used to reconstruct the Ford Building to house the aerospace museum. The remainder would construct an east wing on the Fine Arts Gallery.

In community discussion of the proposition, nobody has said that the better aerospace museum and the new fine arts gallery would not add substantially to the quality of life in San Diego.

The present aerospace museum if a fine embryonic institution, but it has not begun to scratch its potential. It is severely limited by the confines of the shabby 57-year old “temporary” Electric Building, a structure that has been condemned for use. By moving into the Ford Building, the museum could enlarge its association with the Smithsonian Institution and eventually become the outstanding credit to San Diego that it deserves to be.

As exciting is the prospect of another wing to the growing Fine Arts Gallery, an outstanding cultural institution in the Southwest. The $750,000 that Proposition A allocates for the wing would be more than matched by private funds. Together the money would provide a museum that could obtain for San Diego a home for the permanent display of art collections valued in the millions.

Both of the museums envisioned in Proposition A would add immeasurably to the inspiration, tranquillity, beauty and sense of well-being among San Diegans of all ages and in all walks of life. Neither museum charges admission; both are easily accessible to all citizens.

However, more than the addition of new cultural dimensions is involved in Proposition A. Whether we like to admit it or not, it is a fact that despite the best efforts of the city Balboa Park is getting seedy.

There is no mystery why. It takes more than the best of intentions on the part of everybody to build and maintain a park of this dimension, which is unique in the world. Balboa Park, like safety, convenience, utility and other city functions, deserves a high place in the priorities of civic resources. It has not been such a place in recent years.

Proposition A would be but a small step to redress the balance. We strongly urge its approval on November 2.

October 17, 1971, San Diego Union, B-4. Parent Teachers Association backs Proposition A.

October 17, 1971, San Diego Union, B-10:1. Art, music contest to aid Proposition A.

October 17, 1971, San Diego Union, F-1, F-6, F-13. Casa del Prado — Fabric of a Dream, by Marie Stanton (illus.).

“The fabric of a dream.”

That was how architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue described San Diego’s exposition architecture back in 1915 when he designed the Balboa Park buildings of the Panama-California Exposition.

But although Goodhue had in mind that the dream would last only two years and then the buildings would be taken down, his dream caught the imagination of San Diegans and visitors to the exposition as well as those of succeeding generations who though the years have visited the 1,400-acre [sic] Balboa Park and have come to regard the buildings as a symbol of the city and a precious heritage.

One month from today, the citizens of San Diego will dedicate a building which grew out of that fabric of a dream and into reality. The building is called the Casa del Prado, the house of the great avenue, and it stands at the northeast corner of El Prado and Village Place on the site of the former Food and Beverage Building.

On Sunday, November 14, at 12:30 p.m. the massive oak doors of Casa del Prado will open to the public, a public which voted overwhelmingly in a 1968 bond issue election to replace the then 53-year old crumbling Food and Beverage Building, conceived as only a temporary structure.

The new structure, Casa del Prado, built of concrete at a cost of $3.5 million, was designed to look as similar as possible to the former building on the exterior and from El Prado it is a near-reproduction. From Village Place the building looks somewhat different, revealing a 110 by 128-foot courtyard surrounded by arched walkways, which the original did not have. The earlier L-shaped building was completely enclosed. What does give the building its similar character is the elaborate Churrigueresque ornamentation that characterizes much of Balboa Park’s architecture. This unique reproduction of ornamentation is but a part, but perhaps one of the most significant parts, of how the building came to be in its new form.

The building, basically a mixture of pre-cast concrete elements, load bearing masonry and poured concrete, was designed into sections connected by arcades and the large courtyard. The northern section of the building fronting on Village Place contains a 9,600-square foot, 1,500-seat auditorium, including a 80 by 35 foot stage, a 10 by 40-foot orchestra pit, a foyer with ticket booths, rest rooms, men’s and women’s dressing rooms, five practice rooms and two storage rooms. The auditorium with a flat hardwood floor is 80 by 80 feet and was designed as a multi-purpose facility for youth and adult cultural and theatrical activities. Spanish wainscoting on walls is topped by white acoustical material in the auditorium’s interior. Stage lighting may be operated from a rear sound and projection room or from the stage.

The auditorium will become the permanent home of four San Diego City sponsored youth cultural organizations, the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, the San Diego Youth Symphony, the San Diego Youth Chorale and the San Diego Junior Theater, as well as adult folk dancing groups.

Adjoining the auditorium is an arcade opening into the north courtyard which connects the auditorium with the southern section of the building fronting on El Prado.

The two-story south buildings is designed as a hollow rectangle and features a 136 by 84-foot landscaped open courtyard with first floor rooms opening out onto it and second-story rooms opening onto wrought-iron decorated balconies surrounding the upper story and giving monumental scale to the interior of the building.

The eastern leg of this building is a 4,432-square foot meeting room with kitchen designed for catered meals and extensive storage. The primary users of this room will be representatives of 37 horticultural groups, which comprise the San Diego Botanical Garden Foundation.

Special storage facilities will be allotted to the floral groups for their use by the foundation. The room contains certain facilities specially designed for horticultural enthusiasts, including special flower arranging and displaying counters of plastic laminate with work space, sinks and water in wall cupboards which can be closed off when not in use. In addition, special incandescent lights are being installed to simulate daylight for flower shows and displays. Fluorescent lamps also have been installed throughout the building as has air conditioning. This new room is twice the size of the San Diego Floral Association building (located just southwest of the Organ Pavilion) which has been home to the botanical groups since 1916, excepting intermittent periods.

The Botanical Foundation plans that member groups will hold an open house each weekend throughout the year on various horticultural subjects, with displays and demonstrations by members, according to Larry Sisk, vice president of the Botanical Foundation.

The southern portion of the building is devoted to the two massive entrances leading into Casa del Prado from El Prado as well as an elevator.

The western portion of the building contains a senior citizen lounge for the public with immediate access to El Prado, designed as a rest stop of senior citizens participating in activities in various parts of the park, according to Pauline des Granges, city Recreation director. Adjoining the lounge will be a Botanical Foundation Library and small sales area of articles relating to floral activity, a Park Department administrative office, a Botanical Foundation office, and the offices of the San Diego Floral Association, which publishes the magazine, California Garden.

Across the northern wing of the building are two other multi-purpose meeting rooms, one 25 by 44 feet and another 40 by 42 feet.

The upstairs of the building contains seven assembly rooms, ranging in size from 24 by 46 feet to 69 by 76 feet, storage and an 80 by 16 foot loggia which opens out onto El Prado. Four of the second-story assembly rooms include floor to ceiling mirrors and bars for ballet practice and one 64 by 40 foot practice room contains a hardwood floor for the young dancers. Other floors in the south building are concrete covered with neutral shades of asbestos tile. Special removable wood platforms are being designed for three of the rooms where dancers will be practicing, a sore point with youth spokesmen who fought but lost their battle for wood floors for all rooms to be used by the ballet youngsters, according to Mrs. Don DeMarce, president of the San Diego Civic Arts of Youth. Most walls of the building are pale beige plaster with vinyl wainscoting covering the lower portions of the walls in shades of blue, beige and orange.

The multi-purpose rooms are expected to be used extensively by the four youth cultural organizations seeking meeting space, said Miss des Granges. In addition, other types of dance groups, such as the Highland dancers, round and folk dancers will be users, she said. ‘These are the cultural and horticultural nucleus of groups already established and ready to move in to make this a lively center. However, there are additional space and hours in the building for other groups, Miss des Granges added.

“We’re extremely pleased with the building and interested in its multi-use capability because of the heavy demand for space created by the many activities in Balboa Park,” said Earl Hayden, project officer for the city Parks and Public Buildings Department. “We expect to have the building open on a seven-day-week schedule with full occupancy,” he said.

Casa del Prado, only the third new building to be built in Balboa Park since World War II (others were the Timken Gallery and the Fine Arts Gallery’s west wing) is a part of the Bartholomew Plan adopted by the city in the 1960’s which recommended that the Food and Beverage Building area be devoted to horticultural and botanical interests because of its proximity to the Botanical Gardens and major garden areas.

Casa del Prado was suggested as the name of the new structure by artist-educator George Worthington, a long-time San Diegan and member of the Balboa Park Committee, a citizen’s advisory organization.

For the Sunday dedication, the youth and dance groups and botanical organizations will showcase the building with entertainment and exhibits from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., with representatives of these groups explaining the facilities to the public.

During the open house continuous entertainment will be presented in the auditorium by the youth ballet, orchestra, chorale and theater, with 20-minute programs planned by each group. In the north courtyard four square dance groups, which will be regular occupants of the building, will be performing in the evening exhibition dancing.

Seventeen floral groups will present a floral show in the large botanical room (Room 101) and Ikebana International will show arrangements and relative artifacts in the Botanical Foundation Library.

At 2 pm. a special dedication ceremony will be held in the south courtyard co-sponsored by the Committee of 100 and the City of San Diego. A highlight of the half hour ceremony, arranged by Mrs. William Betts, a director of the Botanical Foundation and member of the Committee of 100, will be the unveiling of a bronze plaque to be erected in the northwest corner of the building. The plaque reads, “dedicated to the citizens of San Diego and the Committee of 100 whose vision made this building a reality.” The names of the council members of 1968 and 1971, the city manager and city attorney also appear.

Speakers will include Mrs. Frank Evenson, president of the Committee of 100, and Mayor Frank Curran, who will each release 1,000 balloons, climaxing the dedication ceremony — 1,000 balloons of blue and gold (the city’s colors) and 1,000 balloons in red, white and blue (colors of the Committee of 100, used at the groundbreaking of the new building on November 9 1969).

For Mrs. Evenson, a petite gray-haired San Diegan, Casa del Prado stands as a civic accomplishment. For it was Mrs. Evenson, hearing that the old Food and Beverage Building was to be torn down, who conceived the idea of a citizen’s committee to help preserve the Spanish Colonial architecture of Balboa Park.

“I saw Sam Hamill (a San Diego architect who has contributed much to the city and park’s architecture) at a meeting and I asked him if he thought it would be possible to preserve this magnificent piece of architecture in the park. He said he thought so and came up with the name “The Committee of 100,” which before its work was completed on Casa del Prado had grown to many times that size and raised over $113,000 for the project,” Mrs. Evenson related.

In 1967 the committee was incorporated and set to work campaigning for what was the eventual City Council policy that all future buildings on El Prado be similar to 1915 Exposition style and use similar ornamentation.

“At first we thought it would be possible to restore the building but that proved too costly. Finally the Food and Beverage Building, with its falling plaster and leaking roof, was condemned and closed. The committee immediately raised $10,000 and appealed to the council, receiving permission to remove some 200 ornamental specimens from the condemned building before its demolition began. The committee then went ahead to raise money for research on the restoration of the old crumbling plaster and hemp ornamental specimens to prepare them for re-casting on the new building,” she added.

In 1968, a $3.5 million dollar bond issue to finance the rebuilding of the Food and Beverage Building was place on the ballot with the Committee of 100 joining with youth and botanical groups to campaign for passage of the measure. The result: 72 percent voter approval.

Despite opposition by some citizens that the Food and Beverage Building need not be placed on the same site, the council went ahead with construction plans. Richard George Wheeler was selected to reproduced the Casa del Prado, which has been described as one of the largest and most heavily ornamented of the 1915 Exposition buildings. Acting as a consulting architect was Hamill, who is president of the Botanical Foundation and served on numerous committees concerned with park architecture.

Nielsen Construction Co. was awarded a $2.9 million contract for the construction of the concrete structure and L. J. Ninteman Construction Co. became a subcontractor with a bid of just over $600,000 for the extensive cast ornamentation of the building (which amounted to approximately 18 percent of the total cost of the building.)

Wheeler, the son of architect William Henry Wheeler, who practiced in San Diego from 1913 to 1950, was familiar with Goodhue’s exposition architecture because, as a young architectural student in the 1930’s, he had copied sketches of the buildings under his father’s tutelage.

“I have always thought that these buildings were charming and that it was charm than had made them so long lasting,” Wheeler said. Wheeler sees Casa del Prado as a tremendous influence on the park and feels the retention of El Prado’s architecture is important to the total atmosphere of the park. He said he hoped the Casa del Prado sets the pace for other park buildings and that the elaborate facades will be reproduced in other buildings.

Recreating a building is quite a different approach for most contemporary architects today but “I think I approached it in a sentimental way. You have to have a love for the old building to reproduce it in its original,” he added.

Despite its look alike nature on the exterior, the interior is quite a new design. The building has to serve many uses and so the need was for flexible space, Wheeler said. The open courtyard and the many multi-purpose rooms were selected to accomplish this, producing a building with 30,000 square feet less than the old one-story, loft style, 90,000-square foot Food and Beverage Building.

S Falck Nielsen in producing Wheeler’s design, said he is tremendously satisfied with the structure and found it was a challenging project. Because the type of construction used was not common, it was difficult to find persons sufficiently qualified to do the work, Nielsen said.

Dean N. Ninteman, executive vice president of Ninteman Construction Co., whose firm recreated more than 800 pieces of ornamentation for the building said, “We are well pleased with the structure, and think the people of San Diego can be proud of it. We hope this is the forerunner of restoration of other buildings in the park, whether our firm is involved or not. We think it is the proper thing to do,” Ninteman said, speaking of the retention of the Spanish colonial architecture.

Vincent J. Ninteman, president of the firm, has established experience in the area of ornamental sculpture and cast decorations because of the firm’s work on the University of San Diego, which contains vast amounts of pre-cast ornamental work of a similar nature. His firm also was heavily involved in restoration work on San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts.

However, San Diego’s Casa del Prado offered special challenges, partly because of the size and weight of some of the case pieces, Dean Ninteman said. For example, the three cast stone frames surrounding the three rose windows above each of the entrances weighed eight tons each, he said.

“A majority of our work went up first and then the building went up behind it. The back side of our large cast pieces, in many cases, presented the front form for the concrete wall,” he said.

The specific techniques that were developed for recreating the Spanish Colonial baroque design of the original building have become a fascinating chapter in the Casa del Prado’s story.

Basic techniques used by Hollywood set designers provided a starting point beyond which the Ninteman firm developed its own process, which included working with a chemical company to develop a vinyl material of making the ornamental molds. We had to have a material that was flexible enough to stretch and pull off the newly cast piece and it had to return to its original shape so the mold could be reused because there are numerous repeats of motifs on the building,” Ninteman said.

After research, the firm came up with a three-part method for casting the work, which was under the direction of Christian Mueller, a specialist in ornamental casting, and five model makers. The first step was to restore the old plaster piece to be copied close to its original condition (a considerable job since many pieces were badly deteriorated.)

In the next step — that of mold making — a layer of modeling clay was applied directly to the ornament in a thickness that the vinyl mold was to be, which varied from about ½ inch to 1 inch. A plaster case in two parts entirely covered the clay. When the plaster was hardened the clay was removed and the plaster back replaced. Then the liquid vinyl material, heated to 350 degrees, was poured into the void left from the removal of the clay. When the vinyl hardened it was locked into the plaster case. Then the original piece was removed.

The third step was to pour the concrete into the vinyl mold. When the concrete was poured, metal reinforcement and anchoring devices were inserted into the concrete.

In addition to the pre-cast stone ornamentation is extensive molding and coping around the tops of the building and this was cast horizontally in Fiberglass forms, Ninteman said.

Originally designed by architect Carleton Monroe Winslow, under the director of Goodhue, advisory and consulting architect of the Exposition, the former building has had numerous names. On working drawings in 1913 it was called the Agriculture Building. When it opened in 1915 the south portion was known as the Varied Industries Building and the north portion the Food Products Building. In 1916 it became the Foreign and Domestic Products Building and in 1935 the Food and Beverage Building.

And during the past half century the building has housed the County Fair, served as a barracks during World War I, as a hospital during World War II, as the city library during construction of the present facility, and was used by recreational groups, the city engineer’s office and the San Diego Zoo, according to Barbara Jones, editor of California Garden, who is preparing a historical booklet on the building.

It was Goodhue’s original intention for the 1915 Exposition Buildings to create a city in miniature, one that reflected the gaiety and excitement of a fabled Spanish city. His intentions were graphically seen in the elaborate frontispiece of the auditorium area of Casa del Prado, which was inspired by the Spanish Colonial architecture of Mexico’s churches. The similarity is seen in the ornate facade flanked by two bell towers domed with blue and yellow tile.

The southern portion of the building features two highly ornamented entrance pavilions with a second-story pillared loggia overlooking El Prado. The entrance decorations are identical, each with three massive arches decorated with fruits and vegetables, cherubs, crowns, urns, shields, olive leaves and grapes entwined around many pillars. The grape and olive are significant motifs, having been brought to California by the Spanish and becoming an important and early contribution t the state’s agriculture.

Between the two entrance pavilions are six round discs representing such designs as a sheaf of bound wheat, a grape vine, a fruit-laden tree and a trio of gourds. The loggia architecture is typical of the patio portals of Mexico, and recalls the 18th century work at Queretaro, Mexico, according to historical documents.

When the loggia was planned to be excluded from the building because of costs, Mrs. Evenson and her Committee of 100 began a campaign to raise $75,000 for its inclusion. The largest single donor to the campaign was Mrs. Jeannette Pratt, a San Diegan and widow of a bottling company executive, who contributed $50,000 to the project.

Ornamentation on the west and east ends of the arcade of the south building represents Father Junipero Serra carrying a cross and a sailing ship passing through the Panama Canal.

The symbolic statuary on the building ornamentation on Village Place includes six figures including an Indian child and an Anglo child, representing the contribution of the two races to California history. Another figure on the south side of the cartouche is thought to represent Columbia and the United States Government. The northernmost figure will globe and cross is said to represent the church. At the very top of the ornamentation stands a draped female figure thought to represent religion.

Although 90 percent of the old building has been preserved, two elements are missing because of cost cutting, these are the apse and choir section, which decorated a corner of the northern portion of the building and the memorial to Father Serra, which was mounted on this section of the structure.

Preserving the Spanish Colonial 1915 buildings on El Prado isn’t really anything new. Six efforts have been made through the years, says Mrs. Evenson. Once in the 1920’s all of the temporary buildings were condemned and through the efforts of civic and cultural leader Gertrude Gilbert, they were saved. The leading towers were propped up, the sagging facades were shored up and the crumbling ornaments repaired by citizen subscription, government held and W. P. A. labor, Mrs. Evenson said. And though they were not made permanent, they did serve for the second exposition in 1935, the California-Pacific International Exposition.

And the magical architecture of Balboa Park has remained to inspire and remind San Diegans of their historical past. But the Casa del Prado, while its heritage is of the past, its function is of the future.

For succeeding generations of San Diegans and visitors to Balboa Park, Casa del Prado will be a reflection of Goodhue’s “fabric of a dream”; a dream shared by hundreds of thousands of San Diegans — a civic dream that came true.

October 20, 1971, San Diego Union. James R. Edmiston writes letter critical of Proposition A.

October 23, 1971, San Diego Union. Dr. Frank Lowe writes letter backing Proposition A.

October 24, 1971, San Diego Union, E-1:3-8, E-3:2. Aerospace Museum, New Wing for Art Gallery Sought: A Vote To Improve Balboa Park, by Carol Olten (illus.)

October 24, 1971, San Diego Union, G-1:5-6. Balboa Park plans a quiet 61st birthday on November 10, the day the Park Commissioners named the park “Balboa Park,” by Lew Scarr.

October 24, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3:5-6. More on art, music contest.

October 25, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:2-3. United Nations Day celebrated in Balboa Park yesterday, by Marguerite Sullivan . . . parade of flags and party on the green.

October 26, 1971, San Diego Union, B-5:4-5. EDITORIAL supporting Proposition A.

October 26, 1971, San Diego Union. Marguerite Sullivan writes letter supporting Proposition A.

October 27, 1971, San Diego Union, B-10:7. Greer W. Ferver backs Proposition A.

October 28, 1971, San Diego Union. San Diego History Center backs Proposition A, but opposes plans.

The San Diego History Center has endorsed the passage of Proposition A, the $2.85 million Balboa Park bond issue to be voted on November 2, but it is opposed to some of the proposed changes.

The action occurred at the society’s October executive committee meeting.

The proposition calls for the preservation and rehabilitating of the Ford Building for use by the Aerospace Museum as well as construction of a new wing for the Fine Arts Gallery.

The society is opposed to preliminary architectural drawings which would remodel the Ford Building in a Spanish-Colonial style, according to James E. Moss, executive director of the organization.

“They are going to try to take a 1935 building and make it something it is not,” Moss said. “This is bastardizing a form of architecture.”

The addition of an arcade called for in preliminary sketches would only cheapen the building according to recommendations adopted by the executive committee at the suggestion of Robert D. Ferris, an architect and member of the society’s board of directors.

Public money for unnecessary exterior work should be saved or used to facilitate the museum’s program, the Committee reported.

October 29, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3:4-6. Aerospace Museum Workers putting JN-4 Curtiss cockpit airplane relic back in shape, by Doug Browning.

October 29, 1971, San Diego Union, B-10:7. P. W. Murphy favors Museum, opposes Gallery . . . “the sneaky little rider of $750,000 for another addition to the Fine Arts Gallery.

October 30, 1971, San Diego Union, B-7:1-2. San Diego Taxpayer’s Association declared its opposition to Proposition A.

October 30, 1971, San Diego Union, B-7:1-2. Mrs. Thomas M. Hamilton, member of the California Art Commission, fears art loss feared if proposition A fails.

October 31, 1971, San Diego Independent. Park Building Stands Despite Impossible Odds.

San Diego — The successful completion of an impossible chore will come November 14 when a restored Food and Beverage Building is dedicated in Balboa Park.

Condemned as an eyesore and razed for the 200th anniversary celebration, the building and its ornate statuary stands again in tribute to unceasing efforts against overwhelming odds.

The story of the building’s restoration goes back to 1967 when Bea Evenson organized the Committee of 100 to preserve the Spanish Colonial architecture of El Prado.

The committee, which actually numbered many times more than 100, circulated a petition asking that Spanish Colonial architecture be made mandatory along El Prado.

Petitions in hand, the City Council was persuaded to establish such a policy.

The original buildings, constructed in 1915 for the exposition honoring the opening of the Panama Canal, were built as temporary structures. Over the years many had to be shored up and restored.

A city task force, however, decided the largest of them, the Food and Beverage Building, was beyond repair.

“When the building was condemned, the committee raised over $10,000 to take the ornamental specimens from the building so they could be saved,” Mrs. Evenson said. “The city agreed to put up $5,000 to catalog and photograph the items.”

Faced with the ornamentation in storage and no place to put it, the City Council, in a surprise move, placed a bond issue on the 1968 ballot to restore the building.

The Committee of 100 was caught unprepared.

“It looked like it would be impossible to pass the bond issue and, at first, we didn’t know what we should do,” Mrs. Evenson said. “But we wanted it so badly, we decided to go ahead and try to get the proposition passed.”

The bond issue passed by an overwhelming 72 percent.

“It was a miracle,” Mrs. Evenson said.

The work, however, had just begun. The statuary has to be restored and put in place on the new building. Architectural sculpture, it was found, is a lost art.

Chris Mueller was finally brought in from the Disney studios to take on the job of head sculptor. The statues were repaired and cast in stone and finally restored to their place on the building.

“No one will every understand how much of a monumental task that was,” Mrs. Evenson said.

Along the way, the committee found that the city was considering not restoring an ornate facade, fronting Zoo Drive, in an economy move.

“We got to work and had it re-included.” Mrs. Evenson said.

The Committee also found it necessary to raise an additional $75,000 to have a loggia on Prado side restored. A total of $50,000 was donated by Jeannette Pratt, for the loggia, now known as the Pratt loggia.

October 31, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:5. Bond issue financing analyzed; Proposition A proposal involves small cost to taxpayer, by David Brownell.

November-December, 1971, California Garden, 186-188. El Prado Walk.

The building on the north is the Casa del Prado, restored completely on the Prado side. The building was designed like a great convent. The arcades on the front are adapted from the patio of St. Augustine at Queretaro, Mexico. On the east side, the large ornamental facade is centered with a statue of the goddess of California, with an Indian and a Spanish child. The female figures on each side are (L) an Anglo-Saxon woman and ( R) Queen Isabella of Spain. The female figure at the top symbolizes universal religion.

The auditorium front is in the style of a Spanish-Colonial church and the central figure is St. Jerome.

November, 1971, City of San Diego Recreation Department: Casa del Prado — Operating Policies and Procedures.

The Casa del Prado is a major recreational facility located in Balboa Park intended for use by social, recreational, cultural, and educational groups and organizations. Use of the Case del Prado facilities will be made in accordance with Council Policy 700-4, “Balboa Park Leases and Rentals.” Under this Policy, the following regulations have been established by the Recreation Department.

  1. Exclusive use of certain Casa facilities have been assigned certain designated organizations and activities sponsored by the City of San Diego’s Recreation Department.
  2. Organizations and activities sponsored by the City of San Diego through the Recreation Department will have priority in scheduling the use of facilities as follows:

San Diego Botanical Gardens Foundation, Inc.,

San Diego Floral Association and affiliated organizations: Majorca (Room 101)

Junior Theater: Granada (Room 102)

Barcelona (Room 103)

Valencia (Room 204)

Madrid (Room 205)

Saragossa (Room 207)

Practice Rooms 12 and 1.

Youth Ballet: Santiago (Room 201)

Guadalajara (Room 202)

Seville (Room 203)

Salamanca (Room 206)

Dance: Granada (Room 102)

Barcelona (Room 103)

Santiago (Room 201)

Valenica (Room 204)

Youth Chorale: Saragossa (Room 207)

Youth Symphony: Saragossa (Room 207)

Practice Rooms in Auditorium

  1. Scheduling of Facilities
  2. Designated groups may make reservations for facilities 18 months in advance of requested activities date.
  3. All groups and organizations may make reservations 18 months in advance for “non-priority” facilities.
  4. Non-designated groups may make reservations for “priority rooms” if available 60 daysprior to the date of the activity.
  5. Reservations may be made in the Building Director’s office — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Monday through Friday. The reservation schedule will be maintained in this office and posted for general information.
  6. Designated groups and organizations, meeting requirements in Council Policy 700-4, may have free use of facilities. All other organizations will be charged for the use of facilities, in accordance with rats established by the City Manager (see attached Rental Rates).
  7. Building is available for use 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
  8. Kitchen Use and Meals
  9. Meal service is permitted in the building for designated groups only, in conjunction with scheduled meetings or special events held in the Casa del Prado.
  10. Food in the main auditorium is restricted to table service.
  11. Refreshments are permitted in conjunction with meetings and special events scheduled in the building (all groups).
  12. Access to the kitchen will be available from building staff — 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Kitchen equipment, including china, will be available for use. Food may not be stored in the kitchen. Dishwashing and general clean-up will be the responsibility of groups using the facility
  13. Patio Use: Patios will be open and available for public use and enjoyment at all times the building is open. They may be used in conjunction with meetings and special events scheduled in the building. Activities which would, by their nature, restrict use — will not be permitted, i. e., weddings, luncheons, dances, demonstrations, etc.


(Approved December 17, 1971)

Assembly Room 101 – Capacity 300: $45 for 3 hours; $7.50 each additional hour.

Assembly Room 102 – Capacity 105: $20 for 3 hours; $5 each additional hour

Assembly Room 103 – Capacity 75: $20 for 3 hours; $5 each additional hour

Assembly Room 204 – Capacity 75: $20 for 3 hours; $5 each additional hour

Assembly Room 205 – Capacity 75: $20 for 3 hours; $5 each additional hour

Assembly Room 207 – Capacity 280: $40 for 3 hours; $7.50 each additional hour

Multi-Purpose Auditorium – Capacity 952

Performance Day Clear Floor Flat Floor-Chairs Full Riser

Basic rate – No Admission $75 $130 $195

Charity, Non-profit, Admission $130 $195 $255

Commercial, Admission

10 % of gross admission sales but not less than $195 $260 $320

Non-performance day – 50% minimum rental.

Move In: Events with two or more single performances will be allowed one move-in and one move-out day at no extra charge.

November, 1971, San Diego Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc. Your Are Invited to San Diego Garden Cultural Center, Balboa Park . . . leaflet with drawings and floor plan

November 1, 1971, San Diego Union, B-6:2. EDITORIAL supporting Proposition A.

November 2, 1971, San Diego Union, A-1. Proposition A to expand Fine Arts Gallery and rehabilitate Ford Building for Aerospace Museums

YES 106,260 60 percent

NO 70,799

(No organized opposition.)

November 3, 1971, San Diego Union, 1:5-8. Proposition A, museum bond issue, defeated, by David Brownell.

Proposition A — the Ford Building rehabilitation and Fine Arts Gallery addition — went down to defeat last night when it failed to gain the necessary two-thirds margin for passage.

With all 634 precincts reporting, the $2.8 million bond issue garnered 60 percent for approval, 106,200 to 70,799.

Spokesmen for the immediate beneficiaries of the bond proposal — the San Diego Aerospace Museum and the Fine Arts Society — last night said they would independently pursue their goals with the new City Council.

Colonel Owen Clarke, USAF, retired, museum director, told a reporter the aerospace museum will likely seek minimum refurbishment of the Ford Building.

Cost of the “bare bones” rehabilitation would be $500,000 according to Clarke, who said the funds could come from the city’s capital improvement budget.

Philip Gildred, Sr., president of the Fine Arts Society, last night said the society will ask the council to consider placing the gallery addition on a ballot in the near future.

He indicated he thought the art gallery wing would have a good chance of passage if it were placed on the ballot separately.

“Matching funds speak more loudly,” said Gildred when asked if he thought the gallery’s project was hindered by its association with the aerospace museum proposal. The society had pledged $750,000 for the east wing, half of the $1.5 million cost.

Asked if he thought the pairing of the proposals had hurt the museum’s chances, Clarke said he didn’t think it had hurt his organization.

Pressed for details of his minimum rehabilitation proposal, Clarke said the museum had an estimate of $500,000 to bring the 36-year-old structure up to a standard where it could be used to exhibit the museum’s collection of vintage aircraft.

Of the new proposal, Clarke said:

“It wouldn’t be something that San Diego could be proud of, but it would give use a place to house our collection.”

According to Clarke, the collection, which includes such irreplaceable pieces as an 1883 Montgomery Gull Glider, a 1903 Wright flier, and a 1927 Ryan NYP “Spirit of St. Louis” are “in constant jeopardy.” This is due to the leaky roof and shaky floors of the museum’s current quarters, the 56-year old Electric Building.

While there was no organized opposition to the Balboa Park proposal, the San Diego Taxpayers Association last Friday issued a statement to the effect the organization could not support the bond issue.

The association said it could not recommend approval of the bond issue because the city had not properly evaluated its improvement priorities.

The association called for a more in-depth study of the city’s improvement needs before any more bond issues are put to a vote.

November 4, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3. Museums face tight future.

The Aerospace Museum may move to the creaking Ford Building after all.

And the fabulous Toulouse Lautrec collection of the Baldwin family as — at least — a very good chance of remaining in San Diego permanently.

These possibilities were voiced late last night despite the defeat of a $2.85 million Proposition A on Tuesday’s ballot.

As city cultural leaders mopped up from that loss they admitted cultural disaster might not follow.

“Bare bones budgets” might be used to build a new wing for the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, and the Aerospace Museum Board will consider renovating the Ford Building “just enough to make it usable,” according to leaders.

Proposition A would have provided $2.1 million to refurbish the unused Ford Building in Balboa Park for the museum, and the Fine Arts Gallery would have received $750,000 to match $750,000 it held in private contributions to add a new gallery wing.

The measure received 106,200 votes Tuesday. The “no” vote was 70,700, giving the proposition a 60 percent majority — short of the required two-thirds for passage.

Here are the possibilities now that the $2.85 million in bonds have been canceled:

  • Both agencies expect to ask the city for capital improvement funds to let them proceed “in some manner” on their plans.
  • The Fine Arts Gallery — according to director Henry Gardiner — may try to build some sort of addition with the $750,000 it already has. “Or we may try and raise more money from private or government sources to finance an addition,” he said.
  • John P. Strarkey, president of the Aerospace Museum Committee, said his first recommendation will be that the “museum try and move to the Ford Building anyway and renovate it just enough to make it safe and useful for the exhibits.”
  • But, since the Aerospace Museum will need money to do even this housecleaning of the Ford Building, the committee might have to find another location besides Balboa Park, Starkey said.
  • As for the Toulouse-Lautrec collection, it will be here on load from the Baldwin family of Newport Beach for two years. “I have talked with Mrs. Baldwin in Newport Beach yesterday and the collection might have a permanent home here if it is appreciated,” Gardiner said. “However, we will eventually have to build a permanent wing to house the collection.”

What about money from the City of San Diego budget?

It is a possibility only if something else is taken out of the capital improvement portions of the budget according to Floyd Moore, who draws up the long-range capital budgets. “There is nothing earmarked now for these improvements so something would have to be sacrificed.”

Both Gardiner and Starkey feel San Diego lost a great chance to gain a major package in defeating the bond issue. And both say things cannot remain as they are right now.

“We cannot leave the collection of planes where it is,” said Starkey. “Something will have to be done.”

November 5, 1971, San Diego Union, B-10. EDITORIAL: Another Proposition.

There is a feeling among members of the San Diego Fine Arts Society that a proposal for a $750,000 city bond issue to expand the Fine Arts Gallery in Balboa Park might have been approved in Tuesday’s election if it had appeared on the ballot as a separate item. This could well be the case, and the idea should be pursued.

The Fine Arts bond proposal was conditioned on the availability of matching funds from other sources to make up the full cost of adding an east wing to the gallery. Its ballot companion asked taxpayers to underwrite the entire $2.1 million cost of rehabilitating the old Ford Building to serve as a home for the San Diego Aerospace Museum. Unfortunately, the combined proposition was rejected by the voters.

Both of these projects are of prime importance to San Diego and the future of Balboa Park, but the message at the polls Tuesday may have been that citizens want to see more private support to match public support of institutions in the park.

The Aerospace Museum could profit by the example of the Fine Arts Society. If it could find private resources to help meet the cost of its building needs — resources that lie within the aerospace industry, for instance — the taxpayer might be more willing to help.

Defeat of Proposition A was a bitter disappointment for those who believe in the future of San Diego’s great Balboa Park, but the disappointment should not deter either the Fine Arts Gallery or the Aerospace Museum from their goals.

November 13, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1:3-4. Casa del Prado officially opened in Balboa Park.

November 14, 1971, Committee of 100 Release . . . Casa del Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, California.

The Casa del Prado, designed by Carleton Monroe Winslow, under the supervision of Bertram Goodhue, for the 1915 Exposition, and now rebuilt in permanent materials, will be formally dedicated by the City of San Diego and the Committee of 100 on November 14, 1971, happily ending the last great struggle to preserve it, and make it a splendid heritage for future generations of San Diegans. It is one of the most magnificent of the buildings remaining from the enchanting Spanish colonial “Dream City” which captured the hearts and imaginations of all who visited the 1915 Exposition, and which left a consequent impression on much of California’s later architecture.

The building was temporary, designed to last for the duration of the Exposition, but its beauty, combined with that of the entire complex with its luxuriant landscaping, was such that the buildings were preserved, despite their flimsy construction to become the cultural heart of the city.

Six different times this particular building was threatened with destruction, but was saved by the love and concern of San Diegans.

From the first working drawings in 1913, to the 1971 building it has had five different names and many different occupants. In 1913 it was designated the Agricultural Building (which explains many of its decorations). In 1915 it became the Varied Industries Building, in 1916 the Foreign and Domestic Products Building, for the 1935 Exposition the Palace of Food and Beverages, and it is now to be dedicated as the Casa del Prado. Many of the youth, civic and botanical organizations who had occupied the ramshackle original building, and who fought for its preservation, are now occupants of the permanent building.

The story of the rebuilding of the Casa del Prado in permanent form is the story of citizen concern and dedication to the project. In 1966 Mrs. Frank Evenson, alarmed by the destruction of several of the old buildings and the serious neglect of others, formed the Committee of 100 to preserve the Spanish colonial architecture of the Prado area.

In 1967, through the efforts of the Committee, the Prado area was declared an Historic Site by the City Council. The same year the Food and Beverage Building was suddenly condemned and closed, and the youth groups using it were moved to smaller quarters. The Committee of 100 quickly raised $10,000 through subscription and a 1915 Fiesta, and got permission of the City Council to remove some 200 specimens of the building’s opulent ornament for future use. Then the building was demolished.

Despite claims that it would be impossible, or prohibitively expensive, to rebuild the building and preserve its rich Baroque ornament, the Committee raised more money for research on the restoration and duplication in concrete of the plaster decorations. These efforts proved that the total cost of the entire building with restored facades would be little more than an ordinary building of the same type and area.

In a surprise move the City put the rebuilding of the building on the November, 1968 ballot as a $3.5 million bond issue. The Committee of 100 held an auction of plaster ornament scavenged from the demolition site. This money, plus many generous donations, made possible the sending of a mailer to all voters explaining the importance of the bond issue to the city. With the enthusiastic support of the newspapers, publications, dance, youth, garden and other civic and cultural groups, and the Parent Teachers Association, the bond issue was passed with a record 72 percent of the voters in favor of it, indicating the great pride of the citizens in this magnificent building.

Since the passage of the bond issue, moves to put the building on a different site, to eliminate some of its rich ornamental detail for economy’s sake, and to eliminate the elegant second floor loggia along El Prado have been averted by the Committee of 100. To restore the loggia to its original state, the Committee had to raise an additional sum. Through the generosity of many donors, and particularly Mrs. Jeanette Pratt, for whom the loggia has now been named, the money was raised. Certain changes have been made to the original plans, such as the creation of the two patios, which have added to the grace and usefulness of the building, but the facade along El Prado and that of the auditorium along Zoo Drive are almost exact duplicates of the originals, except that what was once chicken wire, plaster and illusion is now solid reality.



Built for the 1915 Exposition.

Designed by Carleton Monroe under the supervision of Bertram Goodhue.

Condemned to be destroyed six different times. The last time it was saved by


Formed by Mrs. Frank Evenson in 1967 when there was talk of replacing the building with a modern one.

The Committee received permission from the City Council to remove 200 specimens of sculpture from the building. Ninteman Construction Company was paid $10,000 to remove these specimens. Another $2,500 also paid by the Committee, was paid for research as to the best means of restoration of the pieces of sculpture.

Building put on the November 1968 ballot as Proposition “M,” bond issue for $3,500,000 for its replacement.

Youth and Dancing groups, the Botanical Foundation and Garden Clubs, Senior Citizens and P. T. A. worked along with Committee member for passage of the bond issue.

The bond issue passed by 72 percent.

Ground breaking ceremony was held November 9, 1969.

The Committee has raised $113,000 toward this building.


Richard George Wheeler, architect

Sam Hamill, consulting architect

Nielsen Construction Company awarded contract.

  1. J. Ninteman awarded subcontract for casting 1,800 pieces of ornamentation. This firm was also involved in the restoration of the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts.

Ninteman developed a process (working with a chemical company) to develop a vinyl material

for making ornamental molds. A material flexible and strong enough to be used over on repeat

motifs was used.

The first step was restoring the old plaster and hemp decorations, many of which were badly deteriorated.

Molding and copying around the top of the building were cast horizontally in fiberglass forms.


The building is a complete restoration on the El Prado facade. The new building has two patios where the former L-shaped building was completely enclosed.

The cast stone frames surrounding the rose windows above the entrances weigh eight tons each.

The building is basically a mixture of precast concrete elements, load bearing masonry and poured concrete, designed in two sections connected by arcades and the large courtyard.

Auditorium: 9,600 square feet, 996 seats, 80x35 foot stage, 10x40 orchestra pit.

Flat 80x80 hardwood floor designed for multipurpose use.

Eastern part of building: San Diego Botanical Garden Foundation, representatives of 37 horticultural groups will be primary users. Special incandescent lights to simulate daylight for flower shows and displays.

Western part of building: Senior Citizen Lounge, Botanical Foundation Library and small sales area.

Upstairs: Seven assembly rooms, four with floor to ceiling mirrors for ballet practice.

All of building: Air conditioned.


1915 and 1935 Expositions, County Fair, World War I barracks, World War II hospital, temporary library, and finally City recreational and botanical groups.


Has elaborate Churrigueresque ornamentation.

Auditorium: Elaborate facade is inspired by Spanish Colonial architecture of Mexico’s churches. Similarity is also seen with the two bell towers domed with blue and yellow tile.

Southern Portion: Copy of a Mexican Spanish Colonial Government place, with the second-story pillared loggia overlooking El Prado. The City had eliminated this loggia until the Committee of 100 raised $75,000 to have it replaced.

Entrance decorations are identical, each with three massive arches decorated with fruits and vegetables, cherubs, crowns, urns, shields, olive leaves and grapes entwined around many pillars. The grape and olive are significant motifs, having been brought to California by the Spaniards and becoming an important and early contribution to the State’s agriculture.

Between the Two Entrance Pavilions are six round discs representing such designs as a bound sheaf of wheat, a grape vine, a fruit-laded tree and a trio of gourds. The loggia architecture is typical of the patio portals of Mexico and recalls the 18th century work at Queretaro Mexico, according to historical documents.

West End of Arcade of South Building represents Father Junipero Serra carrying a cross, and the East End represents a sailing ship passing through the Panama Canal.

On Zoo Drive: The symbolic statuary includes six figures consisting of an Indian and an Anglo child representing the contribution of the two races to California history. Another figure on the south side of the cartouche is thought to represent Columbia and the United States Government. The northernmost figure with globe and cross is said to represent the church. At the very top of the ornamentation stands a draped female figure, also thought to represent religion.

Although 90 percent of the old building has been replaced, two elements are missing because of cost cutting. These are the apse and choir section which decorated a corner of the northern portion of the building, and a memorial to Father Serra, which was mounted on this section of the structure.


History of Balboa Park . . . .

History of Casa del Prado . . . .

Ornamentation . . . .

Committee of 100 . . . .

November 15, 1971, (San Diego) Evening Tribune, B-1. New “Palace” Dedicated in Balboa Park; Casa del Prado opens with swirl of color; folk dancers, soaring balloons (illus.).

Casa del Prado, youth and cultural center, opened officially yesterday at Balboa Park amid a swirl of folk dancing and 2,000 rising balloons.

The building, its beautiful courtyards and its spacious lawns, are the result of a restoration project financed by a $3.7 million bond issue approved by city voters three years ago.

On hand for the dedication was Mayor Curran, who said the Prado is “a brand new palace — the beginning of something good and the end of something not so good.”

The “not so good” was the Food and Beverage Building, one of several structures used for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-16 which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal.

The Food and Beverage Building was torn down in 1968 after building inspectors determined that it was structurally unsound.

Casa del Prado (House of the Promenade) is a 60,000 square-foot reconstruction of the 56-year old Food and Beverage Building, whose exterior ornamentation was duplicated in the new structure.

Curran presented Mrs. Frank Evenson, chairman of the “Committee of 100,” a key to the city during the dedication. The committee was instrumental in gaining public support for the restoration project.

The Prado will contain display rooms for the San Diego Botanical Garden Foundation’s horticultural groups and will provide practice rooms for the Youth Symphony, Youth Chorale, Junior Theater, Youth Ballet and city folk-dancing groups.

November 15, 1971, San Diego Union, B-1. Casa del Prado officially opened in Balboa Park, by Steve Stibbens (illus.).

Almost on cue the dreary hanging clouds parted over Balboa Park yesterday afternoon and Mayor Curran sent 2,000 balloons fluttering into the sunshine to officially open the Casa del Prado Youth and Cultural Center.

A crowd, many in gaily-colored folk-dancing costumes, filled the Casa’s several courtyards and manicured lawns to celebrate “the fabric of a dream.”

The Casa is a 60,000 square foot reconstruction of a 56-year old “temporary” building that had served since 1915 as an exhibit house, a World War I barracks, a World War II hospital, and briefly as the city library.

The new structures, which meticulously retained the elaborate Spanish architecture of the old, are the result of a $3.7 million bond issue voted in 1968.

The Casa del Prado (House of the City Walk) will afford display rooms for the San Diego Botanical Foundation’s 37 horticultural groups and provide practice rooms for the city’s Civic Youth Ballet, Youth Symphony, Youth Chorale, Junior Theater and folk dancing groups.

Perhaps the biggest smile in the crowd Sunday was that of Mrs. Frank Evenson, chairman of the “Committee of 100” which campaigned successfully for public support of the project.

Mayor Curran called the Casa “a brand new palace — the beginning of something good and the end of something no so good.” Curran said he suggested the restoration project 16 years ago.

He presented the Committee of 100 a “key to the city in the name of young people” and said the buildings should “serve to train young people in the skills of the arts so they can grow and mature and become beneficial to the community.”

The multi-purpose building will offer “not only utility but nostalgic dreams of the past,” Curran said.

Casa del Prado replaces what was last known as the Food and Beverage Building, one of several structures used to house the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-16 which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal.

While the interiors of the buildings are most modern, the exact duplication of the original ornamentation outside became a challenge to the construction contractor.

“They don’t build that way anymore,” said the contractor.

The design called for a mixture of precast concrete elements, load-bearing masonry and poured concrete.

Before the Food and Beverage Building was razed in 1968, a half-inch layer of modeling clay was placed on the elaborately ornamented facade, followed by a plaster mold. The clay then was removed and a rubber compound was poured in to cast the design. Finally, a concrete aggregate was poured into the cast.

Richard Pourade, editor emeritus of The San Diego Union and author of several books on San Diego history, applauded the public support of the Casa del Prado project.

“I hope this marks the end of an era of counting progress by population,” he said.

November 15, 1971, San Diego Union, B-3. Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins were inducted yesterday into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame.

Portraits of the three, painted by Spanish artist Sebastian Capella, were unveiled today at a special ceremony in the hall, located in the Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park.

December 8, 1971, San Diego Union, B-4:8. City Council authorized study to determine feasibility of adding a $250,000 film projector to planetarium to show space-related films.

December 20, 1971, San Diego Union, 3:1. Construction of Hall of Science and Reuben H. Fleet Planetarium and Space Theater 37 percent complete and 2 months ahead of schedule.

Return to Amero Collection.


Main Page

1900 | 1901 | 1902 | 1903 | 1904
1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909
1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913 | 1914
1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919
1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923 | 1924
1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929
1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934
1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 1939
1940 | 1941 1942 1943 1944
1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964
1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974
1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 | 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988 | 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999