The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Fall 1983, Volume 29, Number 4
Thomas L. Scharf, Managing Editor
by Lucinda Liggett Eddy
In 1910, Lilian Jennette Rice, a twenty-one-year-old University of California at Berkeley graduate, quietly returned to her family’s home in National City, California — near San Diego — to care for her invalid mother. The homecoming seemed a dreary prospect for the girl who had so recently posed for her University of California yearbook as “the very model of serious young womanhood fulfilling the promise of education and professional status so long denied her sex.”1 Lilian humbly carried the distinction of being one of the first women to graduate from the School of Architecture. Rather than pursue an architectural career with an established Bay Area firm, she preferred to return to southern California where she had grown up.
The next ten years Lilian devoted to the care of her mother and various positions which included drafting and teaching. In 1921, Lilian’s fateful association with the firm of Richard S. Requa and Herbert L. Jackson2 provided her with the most unique opportunity of her career. Commissioned by the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company3 to develop the planned community of Rancho Santa Fe,4 just north of San Diego, Requa chose to turn this project over to Rice, his associate. Responsible for the over-all plan and supervision of this community, Lilian designed many of the town’s buildings as well as a number of residences throughout Rancho Santa Fe. She knew without being told that this opportunity would give her the chance to show how well she could express her philosophy: the development of a regional architecture strongly allied to the natural landscape and history of southern California.
Lilian’s entrance to Berkeley in 1906 was the realization of a dream fostered by parents who encouraged their daughter to strive beyond the normal range of professions available to women at the turn of the century. As a leading educator in San Diego and National City schools, Lilian’s father, Julius Rice,5 carefully guided his daughter’s academic growth. Lilian’s education benefitted from her mother’s influence as well. A talented painter with a fine sense of design, Laura Rice6 gave her daughter an appreciation for aesthetic qualities that balanced her father’s more practical outlook.
By the time Lilian boarded the steamship for Berkeley,7 her features already reflected the combination of a determined, but romantic, nature. Her pale brown hair, carefully swept up, framed a thoughtful face whose serious expression was softened by a warmth and vitality that characterized her personality throughout life. Of all Lilian’s features, her eyes gave best evidence to her temperament. Their large, downward slant evoked a visionary quality that foreshadowed the dreamer inside.8 As Lilian began her Freshman year, she little realized how strongly the decades ahead would affect and direct that vision.
Berkeley offered an endless variety of cultural activities for a small-town girl, and Lilian enthusiastically took part in campus life.9 In addition, the university provided a unique atmosphere for a budding student of architecture. As Lilian walked to class each day, she undoubtedly felt the air of excitement as she watched a whole new campus take shape under the direction of John Galen Howard,10 head of the School of Architecture. Both Howard and his gifted associates,11 trained in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts philosophy of architecture,12 combined their skills to design and supervise the construction of many buildings during Lilian’s years at Berkeley.13 Howard’s master plan14 for the university enabled her to witness firsthand the entire design process. The advantages were unmistakable as she saw a unified plan unfold that blended Eastern and European influences with a newer regional style that expressed the desire of the architect to be Californian.
Lilian’s exposure to an original architecture profoundly affected the development of her philosophy. While university architects experimented with new design concepts, their work reflected a greater movement, the influence of which had already spread throughout the Bay Region.15 The rugged northern California landscape provided the main source of inspiration for this movement. Steep, wooded hills, a moderate climate and the San Francisco Bay provided a majestic setting for “an original architecture uniquely suited to its environment.”16 Followers of this movement called for an homogenous blend between building and topography. Their fondness for California’s natural beauty and heritage found expression in domestic architecture that insisted structures harmonize with the land. These architects utilized unfinished surfaces, exposed structural elements and materials indigenous to the environment.17 They “wanted the colors of both interiors and exteriors to echo the shades of the land,” while “porches and patios extended the house until it met surrounding nature.”18
Although leading proponents of the Bay Area style embodied a regional philosophy distinctive to their locale, none were natives. Prior to their arrival in California, all had worked or traveled on the East Coast and in Europe and had benefited from exposure to the current architectural ideas of the day. Once settled in California, however, they became “immersed in the local past and adopted the local style of living.”19 In California Design: 1910, Eudora Moore best expressed what a deeply compelling effect the landscape had.
The one thing which seemed to bind…architect and craftsman alike, which seemed to hover over the entire community in both north and south was a strangely palpable sense of place — of the land and of the individual’s identity with it. There was something new and pervasive about the quality of the western light. The benign climate brought an almost romantic consciousness of nature. There was a sense of timelessness of being in a world apart — a world which could be remade in one’s own vision — in which one’s desired lifestyle could be realized and one’s influence felt.20
When Lilian graduated in May of 1910, she brought this vision home. Following the return to the Rice family home in National City, Lilian divided her energies between an ailing mother and a part-time job in the architectural office of Hazel Waterman.21 A former Berkeley art student, Waterman had successfully built a reputation as a talented designer through a former association with San Diego architect Irving Gill.22 She encouraged young women, like Lilian, to develop and pursue professional skills. Later, Lilian taught mechanical drawing and descriptive geometry at San Diego High School and San Diego State Teachers College.23 A bout this time she began to work for the architectural firm of Requa and Jackson, an association which had a far-reaching impact on her life.
Through Richard Requa, Lilian again found the ideal of an original architecture. While the wooded Berkeley hills and scenic bay provided the impetus for the development of the Bay Region style, California’s Spanish-Colonial heritage acted as the cohesive element in the formation of a regional architecture to the south. A well-established romantic tradition built around California’s mission days and the vast ranchos that spread across a sun-drenched land, provided a colorful historical backdrop for an architectural idiom that captured the flavor of a by-gone era. Even the landscape seemed to echo the plains and gently rolling hills of Spain. Requa’s extensive travels through that country had reinforced his belief in an architectural ideal based on the Spanish style.24
His intention was not to merely reproduce the buildings of Spain, but to adapt in an original manner those features most suitable to the southern California landscape.
In 1922, a commission to design and supervise the construction of a planned development in north San Diego County created a perfect opportunity for Requa and Jackson to build a community based on the California-Spanish style. The distance from San Diego, however, presented difficulties for two busy architects who could ill afford the time to make the many necessary thirty-three mile trips during the project’s construction phase. Also, the prospect of modest financial gains proved a drawback for established professionals who wished to avail themselves of more lucrative offers in town. The decision to turn the project over to their associate, Lilian Rice, not only provided a satisfactory solution to the problem, but offered a distinct challenge for a young woman whose full-time involvement with the firm had occurred only a year earlier.
The first time she drove along the freshly graded roads that criss-cross the hills of Rancho Santa Fe, Lilian was undoubtedly struck by the memory of a young girl who watched the unified plan for a new campus take shape under Howard’s gifted leadership. Suddenly the years of training enhanced by experience with two distinct regional architectures, combined to provide a testing ground for expression of her own ideas. The gently rolling topography, broken only by tall forests of fragrant eucalyptus, provided an ideal setting for the realization of a vision. As Lilian gazed across the landscape, the remnants of old adobes brought to mind the area’s colorful heritage.
Originally, Rancho Santa Fe began as the San Dieguito Land Grant,25 a 9,000 acre tract of land deeded in the 1830s to Don Juan María Osuna.26 While descendants of the Osuna family continued to live on the rancho for many years after Don Juan’s death, frequent title changes divided the land into smaller parcels. Despite altered interior property lines, however, the old estate’s exterior boundaries remained intact. In 1906, the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company, a division of the Santa Fe Railroad, purchased the San Dieguito Land Grant and changed the name to Rancho Santa Fe. The land became an experimental site. Several million eucalyptus trees were planted as part of a program to provide suitable wood for railroad ties. when the program failed,27 the young forests continued to grow unhampered and soon blended with the area’s natural vegetation.
During the 1920s the Santa Fe Railroad’s vice-president, W. E. Hodges,28 decided to subdivide the ranch into several hundred parcels for orchards and country estates. Concern for the ranch’s great beauty and historic traditions motivated Hodges to use every resource possible to ensure that subdivision preserved the area’s character. The result meant a restricted environment where all new buildings appeared as a “part of the Land Grant’s romantic past. In short, Rancho Santa Fe was designed as a monument to California’s past, as well as an expression of faith in its future.”29
As resident architect at Rancho Santa Fe, Lilian found the basis for a planned community well underway. One of her initial contacts included L. G. Sinnard,30 a man whose vision and sensitivity to the surroundings made him a good choice to direct the engineering aspects of the project. As manager for the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company, he plotted the subdivisions and winding roads that later characterized the ranch’s charm.31 Sinnard welcomed Lilian as a kindred spirit whose architectural ideals matched his own views regarding beauty and harmony.
Satisfied with the groundwork laid by Sinnard’s capable staff of engineers, Lilian began to plan the architectural development of Rancho Santa Fe, a task, she later stated, “of tremendous personal interest and satisfaction.”32 She designed an urban environment that established visual harmony between the community’s buildings and their park-like surroundings. Clusters of residential and commercial structures along a wide, landscaped street, “created a sense of urban space,” while “white-walled townhouses with entrance gates leading to gardens, and arcaded walks created a sophisticated ambiance.”33 The use of adobe wall construction enhanced the Spanish-Colonial atmosphere and recalled the early days of Rancho San Dieguito.
From 1922 to 1927, development of Rancho Santa Fe occupied most of Lilian’s energies. The Rancho Santa Fe Inn, a school, library and numerous commercial structures and residences all reflected her fondness for the California-Spanish style.
Lilian understood the assessment made by Requa of Mediterranean architecture as a valid form along the coastal regions of southern California. As she worked out the architectural plan for Rancho Santa Fe, Lilian remained true to the concept of a regional style based on the natural beauty and historic associations of the area. Both commercial structures and country residences echoed their surroundings. White or natural-colored adobe walls complemented red-tiled roofs, while intimate patios and courtyards abounded with lush semi-tropical foliage.34 Stately palms mixed with colorful bougainvillea, banana and pepper trees, recalled the days when mission fathers and wealthy landowners planted gardens as a reminder of their native soil. A fine sense of craftsmanship and attention to detail attested to Lilian’s skills as an architect. Exteriors reflected her desire for a building’s appearance to always “conform to the setting of nature.”35 In a 1928 architectural journal, Lilian expressed her affinity for the Rancho Santa Fe landscape quite well.
With the thought early implanted in my mind that true beauty lies in simplicity rather than ornateness, I found real joy at Rancho Santa Fe. Every environment there calls for simplicity and beauty — the gorgeous natural landscapes, the gently broken topography, the nearby mountains. No one with a sense of fitness, it seems to me, could violate these natural factors by creating anything that lacked simplicity in line and form and color.36
Simplicity of design characterized all of Lilian’s domestic architecture. The contours of both large estates and small dwellings corresponded to their respective building sites. Preservation of natural features such as rocks and trees created the impression that the structure was but a detail in the landscape. Interiors further enhanced this over-all impression. Open-beamed ceilings, tiled surfaces and varied floor levels added interest without detracting from the visual harmony and smooth flow that united interior floor plan with the outdoor environment.
Lilian’s sensitivity to the surroundings made her realize architectural ideals had validity only in so far as they reflected people’s attitudes toward their environment. The successful development of Rancho Santa Fe37 reinforced her belief in the necessity for architecturally controlled communities. City planning and protective restrictions were “a natural result of civilization’s progress”38 and must thwart the careless efforts of those who endangered California’s scenic beauty. “Without control, the heritage of natural charm that nature gave…was further disfigured, instead of being enhanced.”39The decision made in 1928 by Rancho Santa Fe homeowners to form an association40 to ensure the protection of their community, attested to her faith in city planning. Their recognition of the environment and the suitability of an architectural style compatible with the landscape, gave Lilian a tremendous sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. As a key figure in a successful experiment, she envisioned Rancho Santa Fe as a prototype for future developments.
During her career, Lilian’s designs continued to reflect her adherence to a regional ideal. While she worked in a number of communities throughout San Diego County,41 the heart and spirit of this talented architect remained most visible at Rancho Santa Fe. After an amicable separation from the firm of Requa and Jackson in the late 1920s, she opened her own office and continued to work successfully until her sudden death in 1938.42
Lilian’s abilities as an architect were matched only by the warmth and humor that had characterized her entire life. Pleasant working relationships gained this talented woman the respect and admiration of clients and employees alike. Sam Hamill, a former draftsman in Lilian’s office, recalled:
What I remember most…was the wholesome, sympathetic, and sensitive understanding she brought to student, employee, or client. Her residential designs…seemed to reflect the personality and lifestyle of the client…As a result of this empathy between architect and client, I would venture that the summation of clients paralleled the equal summation of permanent friendships.44
Rancho Santa Fe became the realization of a vision carefully nurtured through years of training and experience. Lilian’s fondness for the California landscape found meaning through a style that not only established a regional identity, but expressed a deep concern for the environment. As an early environmentalist, she sought to create a harmonious blend between building and topography. Combined with her faith in the future role of architecturally controlled communities, Lilian Rice envisioned the time when cooperation between city planner and architect would create communities sensitive to their surroundings and to people’s needs.
1. For additional comments on the life of Lilian Rice, see Susana Torre, Women in American Architecture, A Historic and Contemporary Perspective (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1977). The book contains a good biographical sketch written by Judith Paine, pp. 108-111.
2. Richard S. Requa and Herbert L. Jackson formed a partnership during the early 1920’s. For approximately 15 years they designed buildings in the Spanish-American tradition as developed in California. Their offices were located in the old Bancroft Building in downtown San Diego at Fifth and “G” streets. Requa functioned primarily as the designer, while Jackson contributed his technical training to the engineering aspects of their joint projects. Buildings of note include the Palomar Apartments in San Diego, Torrey Pines Lodge, The Montezuma Mountain School for Boys at Los Gatos and a number of structures for the Coronado Unified School District.
3. As a subsidiary division of the Santa Fe Railroad, the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company sponsored projects to increase freight shipments for the railroad. One of these projects included the purchase of land now known as Rancho Santa Fe for the purpose of opening additional orchard acreage.
4. Rancho Santa Fe is a community of planned country estates located in San Diego’s North County. The area lies within the boundaries of an old estate known as Rancho San Dieguito, a land grant made in 1845 to Don Juan María Osuna by Governor Pio Pico, Mexico’s last governor prior to American intervention. Development of Rancho Santa Fe began with the “village,” the present nucleus of the community. Designed for the enjoyment of “gentlemen ranchers,” the area today contains some of the most exclusive residential property in the United States and offers a secluded and restricted environment for well-to-do businessmen and celebrities alike.
5. A San Diego Union article, dated November 20, 1932, described Julius Rice as a well-known teacher in San Diego and National City schools. Between 1882 and 1888, he served as the first principal of the old Russ School, later renamed San Diego High School. Rice’s obituary appeared in the September 9,1933 edition of the Union. The article noted his arrival in National City from Randolph, Vermont, and career as an educator. Two additional articles written in the 1950s by Irene Phillips, a local writer for the National City Star News, provided supplementary information. Arriving in the late 1870s, Rice not only taught school, but served on the National City School Board and San Diego County School Board. An interest in real estate resulted in construction of a number of residences in National City during the late 1880s, and a position as County Tax Assessor. Rice returned to teaching in 1893 and retired in 1904.
6. An article written by Irene Phillips for the August 8, 1957 edition of the National City Star News noted Laura as an artist with a flair for home decoration. After Laura’s father gave her and husband, Julius, a house at 740 East 2nd Street, in National City, Laura began an extensive renovation of the home. Her remodeling efforts were described in some detail. The extensive use of redwood paneling, dimensional shingles and decorative tile work around fireplaces indicated a creative mind that no doubt influenced Lilian’s decision to pursue the field of architecture. Additional information on Laura Rice came from a telephone interview with Mrs. Marjorie Smith of Solana Beach, California. Her grandmother lived on the block behind the Rice family home and was well acquainted with Laura. Mrs. Smith spent many vacations with her grandparents during childhood and recalled Laura as being a talented artist who specialized in miniature oil paintings. Laura enjoyed children and encouraged them to visit her and discuss art.
7. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, steamship travel between West Coast ports offered the most convenient means of transportation. Ticket stubs found in Lilian’s Berkeley scrapbook indicate she used steamships operating between San Diego and San Francisco to go back and forth to college. Lilian made her initial trip to Berkeley aboard the State of California.
8. The description of Lilian’s facial features came from several photographs found in the archives section of the National City Library. A small photographic collection and a scrapbook kept by Lilian during her years at Berkeley contained images taken between 1895 and 1910.
9. Lilian kept a scrapbook during the years she attended Berkeley. This book is now in the possession of the National City Library Archives and contains memorabilia relating to that period. Included are invitations to dances and other social events, programs from plays and concerts she attended, receipts for athletic activities in which she participated, and assorted newspaper clippings.
10. Born in Massachusetts in 1864, John Galen Howard is best known for his work as Professor of Advanced Design at the University of California where he served as Director of the School of Architecture. Howard’s training included studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. During the 1890s. Howard joined the prestigious New York firm of McKim, Mead and White. Later he branched out successfully on his own. His designs for a number of important buildings, including the much noted Electric Tower at the Pan-American Exposition held in Buffalo in 1910, drew the attention of Mrs. Phoebe Hearst who asked him to assist her with plans for the Hearst Memorial Mining Building at Berkeley. After completion, Howard remained to accept an appointment as head of the new School of Architecture. For more information on the life and career of John Galen Howard, see Henry F. Withey and Elsie Rathburn Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased) (Los Angeles: Hennessey and Ingalls, Inc., 1970).
11. Two of Howard’s best known associates were Warren Perry and William Hayes. Like Howard, they received their training at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Recruited in the 1900s for the newly established School of Architecture, these men taught the Beaux Arts philosophy and collaborated with Howard to design buildings for the Berkeley campus.
12. The Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris existed for nearly 300 years as a famous school of the fine arts. Specializing in architecture, painting and sculpture, the philosophy taught by the school dominated French thought from 1671 to 1968. During the nineteenth century, a growing number of American students of architecture attended the school. Gradually the influence spread to America and made a tremendous impact on architecture until well into the twentieth century. The Beaux Arts philosophy was based on the scholarly study of past architecture. The style most favored was that of Classical Greece. Later, other styles became popular and students combined these into an eclectic movement that influenced architecuture as well. Composition formed the central theme. A building’s design must always reflect unity between individual parts. Proportion, scale, balance, rhythm and character were essential elements for good composition. While Beaux Arts students could experiment with various architectural styles, their work was always based on a proper knowledge and respect for the past. A good example of a Beaux Arts design familiar to many people is Grand Central Station in New York City. A more detailed history of the Ecole des Beaux Arts can be found in William Dudley Hunt, Jr., Encyclopedia of American Architecture (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980).
13. Campus buildings constructed under John Galen Howard’s supervision included the Greek Theatre, 1903; Sather Gate and Sather Tower, California Hall, Boalt Hall, Benjamin Ide Wheeler Hall, the Doe Library and Agriculture Hall. As Chairman of the Architectural Commission, Howard became involved with work on the Memorial Stadium as well.
14. Howard’s master plan for the University of California was not the first one proposed. originally, a plan for both the campus and surrounding hilly neighborhood had been made by designer Frederick Law Olmsted. In his report, “Berkeley Neighborhood; Report Upon the Projected Improvement of the Estate of the College of California at Berkeley, Near Oakland,” published in both New York and San Francisco in 1866, Olmsted called for a street plan that would preserve a garden-like atmosphere throughout the campus and residential neighborhood. His plans were largely ignored, and in 1899, university officials held an international competition to choose a new plan. The winner, Emile Henri Benard, however, refused to accept the job as Supervising Architect and John Galen Howard agreed to fill the position. While Benard’s design for the campus followed a formal Beaux Arts axial plan, Howard revised this somewhat to reflect a more regional approach. Influenced by Bay Region architects familiar with Olmsted’s picturesque plan, Howard’s master plan combined Beaux Arts principles with the environmental aesthetics proposed by the advocates for a definitive Bay Area style.
15. The Bay Region movement officially began in 1898, with the formation of the Berkeley Hillside Club. Conceived by architect Bernard Maybeck and author Charles Keeler, the club promoted an architectural style sensitive to the environment. Believing that structures should enhance the landscape, they established a building program to protect Berkeley’s scenic hills. While the founding members where women, men became involved later on when the club’s activities required public pressure. A number of leading Bay Area architects claimed membership, including John Galen Howard. Other prominent Berkeley citizens joined as well. Publications by the Hillside Club offered advice on the design and construction of suitable buildings. The success of this organization can still be seen throughout Berkeley’s wooded hills today. The land remains relatively unspoiled, with lush foliage, winding streets and residences which reflect the philosophy of these early environmentalists. For additional information on this subject, see Leslie Mandelson Freudenheim and Elisabeth Sacks Sussman, Building with Nature: Roots of the San Francisco Bay Region Tradition (Santa Barbara: Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1974).
16. An excellent description of the Berkeley landscape and the architectural style that developed around it may be found in chapters 3 and 4 of Freudenheim’s, Building with Nature, pp. 43-75.
17. Leaders of the Bay Region movement and examples of their work are included in Freudenheim, Building with Nature. An additional source of information is Kenneth H. Cardwell, Bemard Maybeck: Artisan, Architect, Artist (Santa Barbara: Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1977). The book offers tremendous insight into the life and work of the Bay Region’s most creative leader.
18. See the conclusion of Freudenheim Building with Nature, p. 106, for the complete quote.
19. Chapter one of Freudenheim, Building with Nature, pp. 7-31, describes Joseph Worcester, a minister from Boston, who came to California in 1869. His love for the California landscape became such a part of his life, that he developed a philosophy which later evolved into the Bay Region architectural movement.
20. Eudorah M. Moore’s introduction to California Design: 1910 (Santa Barbara: Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1980), outlines the philosophical movements in California during the first decade of the twentieth century. Both the climate and landscape offered a favorable setting for idealistic expression of all kinds. Movements in religion, art and architecture were the natural result of an environment whose influence strongly affected the individual’s creative output.
21. A talented artist, Hazel Waterman became associated with San Diego architect, Irving Gill, during the late 1800s. They worked together on a number of projects until 1906, when Gill encouraged Hazel to branch out on her own. Although she never became a licensed architect, Hazel practiced successfully, designing such buildings as the Wednesday Club on Ivy Lane and Sixth Avenue in San Diego. Like Gill, she made use of plain wall surfaces, reinforced concrete and geometric forms.
22. Now considered to be one of the leaders of modern American architecture, Irving John Gill came to San Diego in 1893. While his early work reflected classical and Mission Revival tradition, his later designs followed Spanish Mission forms and, finally, became sculptural, indicating a desire to experiment with forms and surfaces. A building, he felt, “should be a simple and bold machine object. Its severity of mass, of line, of plain undecorated surfaces, would sternly recall man to his puritanical obligations and at the same time it would symbolize his belief in the virtues of health and the sanitary.” Some of Gill’s designs include the Bishop’s School in La Jolla and four residences built for Alice Lee and Katherine Teats on Albatross Street in San Diego. An interesting article which includes some fine exterior and interior photographs of Gill’s work can be found in Moore’s California Design: 1910, pp, 112-119.
23. San Diego State Teachers College eventually became San Diego State College, and finally, San Diego State University.
24. An excellent book which illustrates Requa’s architectural philosophy is Richard S. Requa Old World Inspiration for American Architecture (Los Angeles: Monolith Portland Cement Company, 1929). Included are many photographs taken by Requa during his travels through Spain. Two additional sources for the Spanish style as adopted in California during the same period are: Rexford Newcomb, The Spanish House for America, Its Design, Furnishing and Garden (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1927), and, R. W. Sexton, Spanish Influence on American Architecture and Decoration (New York: Brentano’s, 1927).
25. The Land Grant occupied territory that encompassed the San Dieguito Valley. The San Dieguito River flowed through the valley from a lake south of Escondido, across the valley and along the coastal hills to the ocean.
26. No doubt Osuna had his first glimpse of the San Dieguito Valley as a corporal in the San Diego Company of Leatherjackets. As trained horsemen, the Soldados de Cuero maintained a loose military control for the Spanish Crown. These men were usually from good families and well educated. Under Mexican rule, men like Osuna often advanced to positions of civic importance. In 1834, the pueblo of San Diego was established and the villagers elected Osuna as the town’s alcalde. Petitions for land were subject to approval by the alcalde, a fact which simplified matters for Osuna who wished to procure the San Dieguito land. Requirements for disposition of property involved proof of citizenship, a fee of twelve dollars, allegiance to the Catholic Church and political favor. Osuna took possession of the San Dieguito land in 1836, and acquired additional land a few years later. In 1845, he received full title from Governor Pio Pico. Osuna preferred to live in town, but after his death, his wife, Juliana, chose to reside in one of the adobes located on the San Dieguito land. Various family members continued to live on the estate for many years and descendants today can still be found in the North County area. Both of the original adobes remain. For additional information concerning the life of Osuna, see William E. Smyth, History of San Diego 1542-1908: An Account of the Rise and Progress of the Pioneer Settlement on the Pacific Coast of the United States (San Diego: History Company, 1908). Also, see original Osuna files at the San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.
27. The experiment failed when eucalyptus wood proved unsuitable to hold railroad spikes.
28. Subdivision of Rancho Santa Fe would have failed without a reliable water source. As an official for the Santa Fe Railroad, Hodges cooperated with William G. Henshaw to bring water westward to the coast. Henshaw owned the source of the headwaters which supplied water to the San Dieguito River, as well as the water rights along the river. His agreement to contribute a site for a dam financed by the Santa Fe Railroad resulted in Hodges Dam and the creation of Lake Hodges, both named in honor of the railroad’s vice president.
29. Some years ago, Ruth R. Nelson, a Rancho Santa Fe author, wrote a booklet entitled Rancho Santa Fe: Yesterday and Today, sponsored jointly by The Inn and The Ranch Book Shop. Recently reprinted, the book offers an enjoyable and reasonably complete history of the area. While some factual errors exist, the work still gives a good overview that is concise and easily read.
A number of newspaper articles summarized the early development of Rancho Santa Fe. One early article by Bruce B. Starke which appeared in San Diego Business Magazine, in February 1927, gives an interesting perspective on the area’s growth and future development. Several good photographs are included. The article, entitled “Rancho Santa Fe: Back to the Farm for Gentlemen,” can be found in the newspaper files of the California Room at the San Diego Public Library.
30. Starke’s article, “Rancho Santa Fe…,” published in San Diego Business Magazine, in February 1927, quotes L. G. Sinnard: “This great rancho has not been marketed for profit only in so far as increased produce-freight for the railroad may be considered profit. Many times could we have sold the rancho as a whole to an ambitious subdivider…. But it is planned for a purpose and its steady, consistent growth make(s) it a most conservative, sound investment.”
31. Determined that roads through Rancho Santa Fe should prevent speeding, Sinnard surveyed the hills and chose routes that deliberately twisted and turned so traffic would move at a slower pace. Also, themotorist could enjoy the scenic beauty characteristic of the rancho. Initially, County officials criticized the winding roads, but eventually they accepted Sinnard’s plan and surfaced the roads.
32. Lilian wrote an article entitled “Architecture — A Community Asset,” published in Volume 94 of Architect and Engineer, in 1928. She described Rancho Santa Fe’s success as a planned community and the pleasure she derived from her responsibilities as resident architect. Lilian felt very strongly that being a woman offered a distinct advantage with respect to interior residential design. The practical aspects of room arrangement, size of rooms and light exposure were all considerations for the woman living in a house. Lilian believed most women had a natural instinct for this type of planning and that her job was made easier by the fact that as a woman she could more readily design interior features to harmonize with the exterior plan.
33. Judith Paine’s essay on Lilian Rice includes a good synopsis of her work at Rancho Santa Fe. See Torre, Women in American Architecture, pp. 108-109.
34. Many early photographs of Rancho Santa Fe can be found in newspaper and magazine articles published in the 1920s. These often depict lush Mediterranean-style landscaping. For example, see Starke, “Rancho Santa Fe…,” published in San Diego Business Magazine; Rice, “Architecture — A Community Asset,” published in Architect and Engineer, pp. 43-45; Christine Emory, “Intensive Development Applied to a Big Project,” published in the Los Angeles Times, January 24,1926; Henry Wright, ‘The Place of the Apartment in the Modern Community,” published in The Architectural Record, Volume 67, Number 3, March 1930.
In addition, both of the Osuna adobes remodelled by Lilian, maintained the character associated with the Spanish tradition of landscape architecture. See Bing Crosby, “Our Little Ranch in the West,” published in California Arts and Architecture, Volume 48, October 1935, pp. 24-25, and Martha B. Darbyshire, “Rancho Santa Fe Ranch House: The Bing Crosbys at Home in Their California Hacienda,” published in Arts and Decoration, Volume 43, December 1935, pp. 17-19.
The Mediterranean influence is still prevalent today as evidenced by original plantings around the Rancho Santa Fe Inn and civic complex. Lilian’s former residence on Montevideo Drive and the Sherman home on La Crescenta also have much of their original landscaping.
35. This quote is contained on page 44 of Lilian’s article, “Architecture — A Community Asset,” published in Architect and Engineer. Her comment echoes the ideal of a regional architecture expressed by both Richard Requa and the members of Berkeley’s Hillside Club.
36. Again, Lilian echoes the attitudes of northern architects who wished to developed a simple architecture. Chapter three of Freudenheim Building with Nature, pp. 43-53, describes how the founders of the Hillside Club, Charles Keeler and Bernard Maybeck, sought to achieve a form that would take nothing from the surroundings and would blend so completely as to be “finished for all time.”
37. By 1927, over eighty percent of Rancho Santa Fe land had been sold. This would not have seemed so surprising for a development within the city limits, but many viewed the rancho as being in the middle of nowhere.
38. Ahead of her time, Lilian’s attitudes toward planned development found expression at Rancho Santa Fe. In “Architecture — A Community Asset,” published in Architect and Engineer, pp. 43-45, Lilian stated her feelings clearly.
39. Lilian’s concern for unrestricted development seemed to foreshadow the time when city planners would bring measures to thwart the growth of urban sprawl so characteristic of areas throughout southern California during the 1950s and 1960s. She sensed how easily those special qualities indigenous to the coastal region could be threatened by virtue of their beauty and appeal to insensitive developers interested only in profit. See Architect and Engineer, p. 43.
40. The initial restrictions outlined in contracts signed by early purchasers of Rancho Santa Fe property were good for a ten-year period. By 1926, it became apparent that the kind of development desired by the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company would be far from complete in that time. At W. E. Hodges’ request, Charles Cheney, a well-known city planner from Palos Verde. was invited to work out a more permanent set of protective restrictions. The Protective Covenant provided for a governing board, an art jury and by-laws. While the contract bound only those landowners who agreed to sign, the majority of residents volunteered. A county zoning ordinance passed in 1932 further ensured that non-conformers could not threaten the community’s future development. The Rancho Santa Fe Association remains active today and controls all building and landscaping activity related to property within the Covenant. For additional information, contact the Association offices in Rancho Santa Fe.
41. Buildings designed by Lilian Rice outside Rancho Santa Fe include the Arnberg House (1927), La Jolla Hermosa in La Jolla; the Robinson House (1929), 1600 Ludington Lane, in La Jolla; Zlac Rowing Club (1932), 111 Pacific Beach Drive, in Pacific Beach; Simard House (1938), 9339 Lemon Avenue, in La Mesa. Both the Arnberg House and the Zlac Rowing Club received design awards by the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Archilects. These awards can be found in a Lilian Rice portfolio of drawings and photographs located in the San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.
42. On December 22, 1938, Lilian Jennette Rice became desperately ill at her home in Rancho Santa Fe. Emergency surgery could not save her life and she died the same day. An article written by Harriet Rochlin entitled, “A Distinguished Generation of Women Architects in California,” was published in the American Institute of Architects Journal in August 1977. Rochlin stated Lilian’s death occurred as a result of cancer. A conversation with Miss Elinor Frazier of San Diego, however, indicated Lilian actually died from a ruptured appendix. Miss Frazier worked in Lilian’s office and completed some of the designs left unfinished after her death. She recalled how Lilian experienced severe stomach pains long before her final illness. The tragic irony lay in Lilian’s conviction she had an incurable form of stomach cancer. Rather than see a doctor, Lilian organized her affairs in preparation for an end that could have been avoided.
43. Samuel W. Hamill worked as a junior draftsman for Lilian in 1923. A recent interview with Mr. Hamill revealed a prior association as a student in Lilian’s descriptive geometry class at San Diego State Teachers College in 1921. Her former contacts at Berkeley proved helpful to Hamill who transferred there the following year to complete a major in architecture. Hamill worked for a number of years with Requa and Jackson before branching out on his own. During his association with that firm, he assisted with the design for the County Administration Building on Pacific Highway in San Diego.
44. An interview conducted by Bob Wright and Waunita Wills with Mr. Hamill at his home on August 24, 1974, included this quote. The interview can be found in San Diego History Center Research Archives. Conversations with Mr. Hamill, Miss Frazier and Mrs. Smith indicated Lilian possessed a remarkable personality. Each individual stressed the warmth she expressed for those around her and the encouragement she gave to employees and students.
THE PHOTOGRAPHS are from the San Diego History Center’s Title Insurance and Trust Collection.
This article received the Kamerling Award at the San Diego Historical Society’s 1983 Institute of History.