The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Summer 1990, Volume 36, Numbers 2 & 3
Introduction | Chronology | Arts & Crafts | The Marstons | Hebbard & Gill
Marston House | Walking Tour | Marston Garden
In July 1974, Miss Mary G. Marston, eldest Daughter of George White and Anna Gunn Marston, retaining a life estate, gave her house and grounds at 3525 Seventh Avenue to the City of San Diego for public park purposes. In her letter to the City Council, Miss Marston stated:
My sisters, Elizabeth Bade, Harriet Headley, and Helen Beardsley, join me in our pleasure in the prospect that the gardens and residence of our father, George W. Marston, will be part of the system of parks of the City of San Diego, and we are sure that our brother, Arthur Marston, if he were living now, would share our pleasure too.
Later that year, Miss Marston wrote to the Council supporting the proposal that the San Diego Historical Society use her home:
Inasmuch as my father was the founder of the San Diego Historical Society and its first Preseident, the use of his home seems to me to be most appropriate.
In April 1976 the City of San Diego and the San Diego Historical Society signed an agreement for the Society to manage and operate the house. The city took responsibility for the exterior maintenance of the grounds and the buildings.
In 1977, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Historical Society a planning grant for the Marston House, and a thorough study was done by Society staff members and hired consultants. Several proposals for the use of the house were considered and all agreed on the importance of presenting it as an historic house museum. Two years later the Historical Society appointed a Marston House Planning Committee. The curatorial department began an active campaign to acquire furniture and decorative arts of the Craftsman period and a dedicated fund was set aside for restoration.
In July 1987, Miss Marston died just weeks before her 108th birthday. As required by the gift, the City Council, on September 28, adopted Ordinance #16944 that incorporated the Marston House and property into Balboa Park and dedicated it in perpetuity for park purposes. Since that time, the beautiful grounds have been in the care of the Balboa Park gardeners whose dedication and talent have made it a showplace all San Diegans can point to with pride. The Historical Society, working in close cooperation with the City of San Diego, will operate the George White and Anna Gunn Marston House as an interpretive museum. Exhibits will show the important role George Marston and his family played in San Diego history and will interpret the work of Irving J. Gill, San Diego’s most famous architect. The house itself will illustrate the architecture, furnishings, and decorative arts of the craftsman period. The City of San Diego will, from time to time, use the house and grounds for important civic events.