Raymond Starr, Book Review Editor
By Thomas H. Baumann. San Diego: Privately Printed, 1984. Illustrations. Maps. 196 Pages. $22.00
Reviewed by Rhoda E. Kruse, Senior Librarian, California Room, San Diego Public Library.
Author Thomas Baumann, who came to the area in 1941, was the first permanent dentist in the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego. His new book, Kensington-Tallmadge 1910-1985, is a labor of love produced for the seventy-fifth anniversary of his community. The book is a compilation of source materials and anecdotes of one of San Diego’s most clearly defined and distinctive communities.
In twenty chapters Baumann touches on various facets of the neighborhood’s history. He treats with a fair amount of detail transportation, community organizations, schools, the library, subdivisions and developers, major buildings, floods, businesses and some of the people. While well known incidents in the community’s history are included, so are a number of more obscure topics. For example, he recounts Kensington’s several murders, its role as an early movie set, and the wedding reception held in a cave. He devotes an entire chapter to Judge Joseph Rutherford, who served as a president of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. In 1930 Judge Rutherford moved into a house in Kensington which he refused to accept as a gift, but which he agreed to hold in trust for David, Gideon, Barak and a number of “other faithful men who were named with approval in the Bible at Hebrews the 11th chapter” [sic]. The house, known as Beth Sarim, was later occupied by prominent citizen G. Aubrey Davidson, whom Baumann considers the principal founder of Kensington.
Baumann has included many detailed references to descendants of early residents and businessmen, which should prove useful to other historians – not to mention genealogists. The book is plentifully illustrated with reproductions of tract maps, photographs (both public and private), and newspaper articles, and the entire 1920-1921 directory of the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, Baumann did not include an index. He did prepare one later, however, and the index is included in the copies of Kensington-Talmadge located in the San Diego History Center’s Research Archives, and in the San Diego Public Library’s California Room.