Winner of the Best Student Paper Award in the 1993 San Diego Historical Society Institute of History
On May 2, 1931 more than five hundred students, faculty and guests gathered on a barren promontory overlooking Alvarado Canyon, some three miles northeast of downtown San Diego. They were celebrating the dedication of the newly relocated campus of the San Diego State Teachers College. On hand was a representative of the Spanish government, who, when asked his opinion about the new campus, remarked that it contained some of the finest and purest examples of Spanish style architecture that he had ever seen in any one grouping of buildings outside of Spain.1 These buildings, with their Andalusian imagery, drought-resistant gardens, and towering palm trees, have come to symbolize the historic heart of San Diego State University.
On July 28, 1921 the precursor of the present San Diego State University, the San Diego State Normal School, was granted college status by the California State Legislature. Renamed the San Diego State Teachers College, its curriculum would expand from a two-year preparatory school for teacher training to a four-year liberal arts college by 1923.2 Founded on March 13, 1897, the campus occupied seventeen acres of land in the heart of the suburban community of University Heights. The campus buildings consisted of the 1899 Beaux-Arts main building, a 1910 a two-story Italian Renaissance inspired teacher training building, and several smaller auxiliary buildings.3
By 1922 the campus had become seriously overcrowded. Because the original buildings were designed to accommodate only six hundred students, Dr. Edward L. Hardy, the college’s second president (1910-1935), petitioned the State Budgetary Committee to appropriate funds for the construction of eight to nine new buildings by 1929. They would help to house approximately 1000 college students and 500 children attending classes in the training school building. The issue was delayed by the Committee until 1925; by that time enrollment reached 1300-plus. Dr. Hardy realized that, even with the completion of the new buildings, they would be inadequate. Prohibitive land costs precluded seeking the expansion of the campus out into the surrounding neighborhood.4
The 1925 California legislature sought to alleviate the campus’ growing pains by passing a bill providing for the establishment and maintenance of an expanded San Diego State Teachers College. This could be done if two conditions were met: (1) the City of San Diego would have to provide an adequate site, and (2) it would have to provide $400,000 in bonds to purchase the old University Heights campus outright in order to recompense the State for its initial investment and to allow it to develop the new site with facilities at least equal to those already existing.5 A twenty-one member college site General Advisory Council, headed by San Diego Mayor John L. Bacon, was organized and appointed a site evaluation subcommittee to receive, review, and report proposed sites to the Advisory Council.6
From 1925 to 1927 ten potential sites were evaluated. These included the northeastern corner of Balboa Park, Chollas, Paradise Valley, Tecolote Canyon, Linda Vista, Pacific Beach (with two sites to offer), Talmadge Park, Rolando, and Encanto. Each of the proposed sites were located within subdivisions owned by local real estate syndicates hoping to use the college campus as a stimulus for development. Nevertheless, each site was rejected in turn by the General Advisory Committee except the last — the East Broadway site in Encanto — which was chosen because of its nearness to downtown San Diego. In spite of an extensive promotional campaign by backers of the site, on March 29, 1927 the $400,000 bond issue was defeated.7
Undaunted, the site evaluation committee tried again, by initiating a new request for proposed sites the following year. Only five sites were offered; four from the original ten, the fifth offered by the Bell-Lloyd Investment Company of Los Angeles. The 125-acre site, situated along the southern rim of the Alvarado Canyon/Adobe Falls area, was strategically located in the heart of the Bell-Lloyd company’s Mission Palisades tract. It was the second site offered by the Bell-Lloyd company. The first, another 125-acre tract north of the site, was rejected because the committee considered it too inaccessible.8
The Bell-Lloyd Investment company was the real estate development arm of flamboyant oil tycoon Alphonzo E. Bell of Los Angeles. While drilling a water well on his farm in Santa Fe Springs, Bell had the good fortune to discover that he was sitting on top of one of the nation’s largest oil reserves. An instant millionaire, Bell, who had been involved in land acquisition and development since 1902, purchased additional land in the Greater Los Angeles area land for farming, oil exploration and real estate development. In 1922 he organized the Bell-Lloyd Investment Company with his long-time friend and partner, Hal Lloyd. The following year the company invested in the Los Angeles Mt. Park Company, which owned over 23,000 acres of land in the northeastern hills of Los Angeles. Within this huge tract, stretching west from the community of Westwood, to the Pacific Ocean, the Bell-Lloyd Investment Company developed an exclusive residential subdivision. “Bel-Air,” would be the model for the proposed development of the huge tract surrounding the site of San Diego State College.9
Located near the University of California Los Angeles (another former State Normal School), lot sales at Bel-Air were directly tied to the university. Originally planned for downtown Los Angeles, after a generous donation by Bell, the college site committee chose to locate the campus in Westwood.10 The layout of Bel-Air was as much sculpted as it was graded by the company’s resident landscape architect and urban planner Mark Daniels.11 Winding roads led to spacious $7,500 to $35,000 lots where owners could build unique, architect-designed custom-built homes. Bridle paths interlaced the homesites, encouraging residents to visit their neighbors on horseback. The homes were so exclusive, references were required of all prospective property buyers. A conservative moralist, Bell refused to sell property to Hollywood movie stars, who he considered immoral debauches. Because of his long-standing affair with movie actress Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst was refused the right to live in Bel-Air. The resulting animosity between Hearst and Bell would later affect Bell’s career as a real estate developer, including his San Diego investment.12
After the subdivision of Bel-Air, Bell developed other tracts of land in west Los Angeles into exclusive residential districts. Among these were Castellammare, a Mediterranean-like seaside community overlooking the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Boulevard, and the Bel-Air Bay Club subdivision, with access to the beach provided by a private access road through a tunnel under Pacific Coast Highway. Bell directed Lloyd to consolidate the profits from these land sales, in addition to a large amount of accumulated surplus profits, and invest in 7,580 acres of land outside of the city of San Diego, where it would be subdivided and eventually sold under the aegis of the Mission Palisades Corporation.13 The huge tract, six times bigger than Balboa Park, extended eastward from the Grantville area, near the ruins of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, out towards Cowles Mountain. Bell donated 125 acres of the tract, overlooking the Alvarado Canyon/Adobe Falls area (today’s intersection of College Avenue and I-8) for the site for the future college.14 If Bell-Lloyd’s gift was accepted, Bell, under the guidance of Daniels, intended to develop the surrounding Mission Palisades tract into a beautifully landscaped area similar to Bel-Air. Proposed improvements were similar to those already installed at Bel-Air: a lake in the Adobe Falls area of Alvarado Canyon, a small private airport, two golf courses, a polo field, underground electric wiring, and large residential lots interconnected by a series of bridal paths.15
On April 6, 1928 the Citizen’s Executive Committee chose the Mission Palisades site, deciding that, despite its distance from the center of town, the site held certain advantages over the others. Among these being the fact that the site was fairly level, facilitating the placement of new campus buildings and athletic fields. Two arroyos, cutting through the western and southern portion of the site, would be prime locations for an athletic stadium and amphitheater. In addition, because the proposed college site was higher than the opposite canyon rim, it would always have an unobstructed view of the surrounding area. Being in the middle of a huge tract of undeveloped land, it would also be able to expand in any direction. It was the wish of the Mission Palisades Corporation to control this expansion in concert with the planned development of the surrounding community.16 The company would pave a roadway (today’s College Avenue) north from El Cajon Boulevard to the campus. A branch of the roadway (Campus Way) would align itself in front of the campus’ main entrance before travelling down the arroyo to Adobe Falls. There it would meet the western section of the Bostonia Highway, which would be extended through the center of the Mission Palisades tract, from Adobe Falls to Sixth Avenue (today’s Cabrillo Freeway) along the base of the southern slopes of Mission Valley.17
Located near the intersection of College Way and Mission Valley Road (today’s Montezuma Road), a gift parcel was given to the City in order to be developed under the guiding hand of Palos Verdes urban planner Charles H. Cheney. Cheney proposed a Mediterranean-style commercial plaza (similar to that found in Westwood near UCLA) enclosed by arcaded walkways. An additional Mediterranean effect would be realized by arches over College Way as it entered the plaza. The plaza itself would be about 280 feet wide by 430 feet long, divided by a long central landscaped island, with 68 feet of pavement laid on either side allowing ample space for parking.18 Lloyd B. Farmer, assistant treasurer of the Bell-Lloyd company, explained that, so as not to distract from the buildings of the college, buildings built around the plaza would be limited in height to two stories. The designs of any new buildings would have to be submitted to a board of review headed by noted San Diego architects William Templeton Johnson and Robert W. Snyder, as well as by Farmer.19
Supplementing all of this, Bell personally gave a cash donation of $50,000 to the campus building fund for grounds improvement.20 He also provided the services of his company’s landscape architect and urban planner Mark Daniels to help the college establish itself in its new home (it would also help to boost lot sales in the surrounding area if the campus was landscaped). Daniels was responsible for the layout and grouping new campus buildings as well as the placement of drought-resistant gardens.21
By a five-to-one majority, the voters of San Diego approved the bond issue to purchase the old Normal School site, in May of 1928. Three hundred twenty-five thousand dollars, plus an additional $650,000 state appropriation, would be made available for the construction and relocation of the college onto the donated Mission Palisades site. The former teachers college in University Heights would be converted into a grammar school. Renamed in honor of Alice Birney, founder of the Parent-Teacher’s movement in 1897, it would offer classes from kindergarten to the sixth grade.22
On October 7, 1929 an impressive and patriotic ground breaking ceremony was held at the new campus site. Close to five hundred students, faculty, and distinguished visitors, including George W. Marston, a past trustee of the old Normal School, participated in the ceremony. Governor C. C. Young, along with A.R. Heron, chief of the state Division of Finance, met with Dr. Hardy to discuss the new college’s building plans. Governor Young, who was scheduled to speak at a realtor’s convention in San Diego that evening, showed great interest in the new State College.23
The decision to have the campus built in the style of a Hispano/Moresque monastic university can be directly attributed to Dr. Hardy, who, along with many of his fellow Southern Californians, had been caught up in the architectural fad which had swept Southern California during the 1920s — Spanish Colonial Revival.24 While a direct outgrowth of its turn of the century predecessor, the Mission Revival style (ca. 1890-1912), there had been examples of the genre built in Southern California as early as the 1890s. The style’s greatest popularity occurred between 1915-1930, stimulated by the design of an allegorical Spanish city created in the center of Balboa Park for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The guiding spirit behind the design, architect Bertram G. Goodhue, who had previously written a detailed study of Spanish Colonial architecture, decided to go beyond the austere Mission Revival in order to emphasize the richness of Spanish and Moorish-inspired architecture at its source — the Mediterranean shores of Southern Europe and North Africa. These sources included Northern Italian Romanesque, Southern Italian Baroque, Moorish or Islamic North African and Andalusian Spain, and its most prolific variants — the Neo-Classic, Plateresque and Churrigueresque of Imperial Spain and her Latin American colonies. By the mid-1920s Spanish Colonial Revival became the architectural style for Southern California. Its variants were used in a wide range of applications for the design of entire subdivisions, commercial buildings, civic centers, and educational institutions.25
It was within this historic framework that Dr. Hardy accepted the design plans for the new college. While the overall design of the campus, grading, roads, buildings, gardens, and landscaping was the work of Mark Daniels, the actual design of the campus buildings was undertaken by senior architectural designer of the State Division of Architecture Howard Spencer Hazen.26 Hazen too had been caught up in the Spanish Colonial Revival movement. He imagined the campus as a monastic university located in the border region between Catalonia and Valencia, Spain. Here, a large Moorish artisan class would have lent its influence to the design of the university’s buildings.27 Hazen visualized himself as an Italian architect employed to design the campus. Under his guidance, Moorish artisans and craftsmen would construct the buildings in a style fusing Medieval Spanish Christian and Moorish architectural styles — the Mudejar.28
Of the buildings designed by Hazen between 1930-1933, eight are still extant. These include the Academic Building (today’s Hepner Hall and the Little Theater), the Library and Campanile (Hardy Memorial Tower), the Science Building (Life Sciences South), the (Teacher) Training School Building (Physical Sciences), the Aztec Cafe and Bookstore (Faculty/Staff Center), the Shops and Boiler Plant Building, Scripps Cottage (since relocated from its original site in front of Love Library in the mid-1960s), and the original Gymnasium Building (adjacent to Aztec Bowl’s eastern wing).29
In 1931, College Way led northwesterly from College Avenue into a temporary parking lot west of the Academic Building. On the way to the parking lot, it skirted past the main pedestrian entrance to the campus — the Portales of the Academic Building. Resembling a heavily defended bastide style entryway to a Medieval Mediterranean defensive compound, the Portales symbolically guard the entry to the old campus with their massive turrets framing the Catalonian-style imitation cut stone archway. Wrought-iron window grills (rejas) and concrete window grates (ajimezes) add to their defensive character.30 One of the most photographed buildings on the campus, the Portales’ most interesting feature is the Mission-style campanario, or pierced wall belfry bridging the distance between the conical red tile roofs of the twin turrets. A noted characteristic of the California and Mexican Franciscan mission churches, the campanario was used in lieu of a bell tower or campanile. The campanario was separate from the main mission church building as a precaution against the experience of collapsing bell towers in earthquake-ridden Mexico and California which often crushed the faithful in the nave of the church.31 Hazen may well have been influenced by the restoration work then underway at Mission San Diego de Alcala a few miles to the west in Mission Valley. The restored campanario at Mission San Diego de Alcala closely resembles that above the Portales of San Diego State.32
Walking through the entrance archway of the Portales, a Moorish-style ribbed arch vaulted ceiling greets the visitor with a simulated Moorish wrought iron lantern hanging from its center. A band of turquoise glazed tile (azuelos) is carried around the interior of the portales. Exiting the portales, a bead trimmed archway opens out onto the landscaped courtyard of the original campus commons.33 At the time of the first day of classes, February 16, 1931, there was no landscaping, nor, for that matter, any paved roads leading to the site. Campus Way was just a dirt road, and students, as well as faculty and staff, had to drive through thick, gooey mud (it had been raining for days) to reach the parking lot. One of the tractors from the maintenance crews had to be commandeered to pull out automobiles mired in the muck.34
The landscaping theme that was eventually carried out under the direction of Mark Daniels hoped to soften the stark white stucco walls of the campus buildings through the use of foundation plantings and ornamental trees. Conforming to the Spanish Colonial Revival’s passion for historical allegory, Daniels chose plant materials to landscape the campus’ patios and courtyards in the Hispano-Moresque style. Plant material was selected from those species which would do well in San Diego’s hot, arid summer climate and heavy soil — conditions very similar to the lands around the Mediterranean. Plant material consisted of drought-tolerant species from the Mediterranean coast, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico.35
Daniels explained the reasoning being his choice of plant material:
The propriety of such a selection is quite apparent. It calls . . . for a selection of plant material such as one finds in Algeria and Tunesia [sic] . . . . The slopes of the canyons are to be planted in a naturalistic manner . . . so as to constitute, more or less, an arboretum that will have true educational value . . . . The problem of irrigation and care has limited the selection to those that are most drought resistant and at the same time showy . . . . Formality has been confined to the entrance, the mall on the central axis and the patios. The architecture is strongly reminiscent of the styles found in Algeria, where climate and soil on the north slopes of the Atlas Mountains and the mesas between them and the Mediterranean are almost identical with our own.36
Though the college was a State institution, the City of San Diego had to provide water and sewer hookups. At great expense water was piped to the campus site.37 Because of the distance involved and the inaccessibility of the site to the City water main, a solution had to be found to alleviate the problem of low water pressure, not only for irrigation and sanitary purposes, but also to provide adequate fire protection. Water from the main was fed into a 50,000 storage cistern buried in the main quad area near the base of the Campanile (today’s Hardy tower).38 Twin pumps in the base of the Campanile provided enough lift to carry the water to a 5,000 gallon water tank installed in the upper stories of the 200 foot Campanile, which acted as a camouflaged water tower. Water from the upper storage tank, dropped by gravity, increased in pressure providing adequate “head pressure” for the campus’ plumbing system.39
Because the campus was miles from the nearest sewer main, a solution would have to be found to servicing waste water. Northwest of the temporary parking lot, at the end of a dirt road leading down to the west slope of the arroyo, an Imhoff sewer treatment plant processed all the campus’ waste water. While normal waste water was carried to the Imhoff plant through cast iron pipes, water containing corrosive contaminants from the Life Science Building was transported by gravity through vitreous clay pipes down into a dispersal field in the canyon to the north.40 Through various stages of filtration and treatment, waste water was processed and purified at the Imhoff plant. The processed sludge dumped out into the arroyo below and the heavily chlorinated recycled water pumped back up to the mesa and redistributed into the campus’ irrigation water system.41 The plant ceased operations early 1950s when the campus was finally tied-in with the City’s sewer system.42
Oil-fired boilers in the Shop and Boiler Building provided heat throughout the campus buildings during winter. Adjacent to the boiler room was a wing consisting of various maintenance and repair shops. Hazen dismissed the Shop and Boiler Building as, “Shop Building Renaissance,” and because of its utilitarian purpose, “need not be described.”43 However the building still reflects the accomplished use of the Spanish Renaissance Revival style for a utilitarian structure which still blends well with Hazen’s overall plans.
As mentioned before, the Campanile served as the water tower of the campus, but it too served an allegorical purpose. Commenting on the tower during a visit to the newly built campus, local architect Richard S. Requa was taken aback by Hazen’s use of historical allegory. He regarded the tower as suggestive of the picturesque minarets he had seen while traveling throughout Spain and North Africa, writing:
If the time had been sunrise or sunset, I would have expected to see a Muzzin emerge from the tiny center pavilion….44
Adjacent to the Mission church-like Library Building, the campanile was the cornerstone of the historic inner campus. Hazen suggested that they represented a Spanish Christian church building and bell tower as designed by Moorish craftsmen.45
The use of the building as the campus library symbolically represented the Humanistic concept of metaphorically replacing the church-like building’s former use as a house of blind faith to a house of reason and knowledge. The east wing of the building, with its sheltered arcades and spacious courtyards, resembles the cloistered inner mission compound of Mission San Juan Capistrano. Such Mission era details as grilled windows, wrought-iron light fixtures and weather vanes on cupolas, as well as terra cotta tile hooded chimneys, are all found within this corner of the quad. Both the Science Building and the Training School Building continue this architectural allegory.
Unfortunately, both buildings have undergone extensive interior and less intensive exterior renovations. The former Training School Building once contained an auditorium with provisions for the showing of films and slide materials, as well as a separate library for the children. The interior was finished with open beam ceilings. However, in the process of “modernization,” the original stage area has been hidden behind a false wall.46 The diminutive patio within the Training School Building contains the “Banana Quad.” Here plants were cared for by the grammar school students attending the Training School.47
Originally located in the quad area in front of Love Library, Scripps Cottage was the donation of local benefactress Ellen B. Scripps. Her generous donation of $6,000 was transferred to the state in order to build and furnish the Spanish vernacular structure. Dedicated by Miss Scripps herself on Sunday, September 27, 1931, it served then, as now, as the headquarters of the campus Y.W.C.A., and later as the headquarters of both the campus Y.W.C.A. and Y.M.C.A.48 Across from the cottage sat the equally vernacular Aztec Cafe and Bookstore. Students would habitually complain about the food and crowd onto the running boards of their fellow classmates cars in order to flock to the eatery on the bottom floor of the new men’s dormitory on College Avenue and Hardy Lane.49
The last building designed and completed by Howard Hazen, the monumental Women’s Gymnasium Building, was supposed to have been designed by local architect William H. Wheeler, but confusion in the original cost estimates delayed its construction. Fortunately for the continuity of the architectural theme of the original campus buildings, the design of the gymnasium was completed by Hazen.50 Incorporating similar window detailing on the south facade of the gymnasium as he did on the Admissions Wing of the Academic Building, this Mudejar-influenced ventana geminada imitates those found in many Iberian and Spanish Colonial-era buildings found in Mexico.51 His signature work, though, with its floriated capitals supported by coupled columns, is the Gothic-inspired southeast entrance portico on the southeastern corner of the gymnasium. Other unique features of the reinforced concrete and steel frame, earthquake proof Gymnasium Building is its open garden patio court, with its central Moorish-influenced fountain, decorated entryway, and red tile covered loggia. Provisions were made for a swimming pool on the east side of the gymnasium. However, because the initial building fund money had since dried up, only concrete bleachers, since covered up, and a wing off the southeast portico (demolished), were ever completed.52
The effects of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression were starting to be felt in Southern California. By the end of April, 1932, the Bell-Lloyd/Mission Palisades companies had completed $200,000 worth of improvements on the first unit of their College Park subdivision (near the present intersection of Montezuma Road and College Avenue), including grading, sewer and water connections, street paving and sidewalks. In addition, about three hundred trees were planted under the direction of Mark Daniels, and a few homes were under construction. By providing low down payments and liberal loan arrangements (two years before the federally-sponsored Federal Housing Association’s guaranteeing of housing loans), prospective homeowners would have enough funds to construct their houses after they bought their lots. Bell and his associates were gambling that the financial depression would have spent its course by the time the tract was completed. The sales of homes in Unit No. 1 was crucial in the master plan for developing the entire Mission Palisades tract. As soon as lots in the first unit would begin to move, efforts would be taken to open the huge tract north of the campus to subsequent development. By August of 1933, two rows of Mediterranean-style single-family houses were under construction by the Mission Palisades Corporation in College Park Unit No.1. All in all there were only five houses built. Three were located on one side of College Avenue, while the other two were on the other (this was to give the impression that much more of the area had been developed).53
Unfortunately, it was still too early to attempt to sell property in San Diego. The local economy just did not show any signs of improvement. Claude Wayne, secretary and co-director of both the Bell-Lloyd Investment Company and the Mission Palisades Corporation, said, “We couldn’t give it [home sites] away.”54 The entire Mission Palisades/College Park project resulted in the loss of a large amount of money for the Bell-Lloyd Company. In addition, Bell was embroiled in a controversy involving his proposed development of a limestone quarry for the production of cement in the Santa Ynez Canyon of the Santa Monica Mountains. This, in addition to Bell’s penchant for getting into debt, had already depleted a large portion of his personal fortune by the time the Crash and Depression hit. By the mid-1930s, he dropped out of the real estate development business and devoted his time toward civic service, particularly toward his alma-mater, Occidental College, becoming its President of the Board of Directors in 1938.55 Ownership of the Mission Palisades site was eventually transferred to Steve Griffith, the project’s street grading contractor, and the entire project was ultimately abandoned by 1936.56
Without its benefactor, San Diego State College’s development was stifled. With the help of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the California Works Administration (CWA), between 1933-40 several buildings in the old quad were completed in the Hispano/Moorish style.57 In addition, between 1942 and 1953, eight more Hispano/Moresque-style buildings were constructed.58 However, the style had lost favor after World War II. Post-war campus planners rejected the “old” Spanish style in favor of the more functional Modern or International style devoid of exterior detailing. While some elements of the Spanish theme, stylized arches, overhanging arcades, and white walls were incorporated into some of the buildings during the 1960s and 1970s, the campus master plan, unchanged since the 1950s, has been continuously adapted and modified to accommodate new buildings on campus reflecting architectural styles currently in vogue. All of this presents a melange of new buildings throughout the campus by mixing buildings of different mass, scale and architectural style.59
Recently attempts have been made to incorporate architectural elements of the original core campus in the design of several new buildings.60 A step in the right direction is the Spanish Village-like Villa Alvarado Residence Hall, with its hillside Spanish village-like design and spatial arrangement. However, the new Athletic Department Office Building near Peterson Gym, as well as the recently completed Student Services Building, give lip service to the Hispano/Moorish but fail to capture the historical allegory or the student-oriented accessibility of the original buildings. It remains to be seen if future campus planners can fulfill the dreams and aspirations of their predecessors, who envisioned a more intimate, Andalusian-inspired campus of interrelated buildings connected by student-oriented arcades and intimate landscaped courtyards.
1. Richard F. Pourade, The Rising Tide, The History of San Diego Series (San Diego: The Union-Tribune Publishing Company, 1968), 159.
2. Lewis B. Lesley, San Diego State College: the First Fifty Years, 1897-1947 (San Diego: San Diego State College, 1947), 35. The college would again change its name in 1935 to San Diego State College, and San Diego State University in 1971. See also: San Diego State University, General Catalog 1990-1991 (San Diego: 1989), 16.
3. Ibid., 12., and Lester I. Tenney, “Legal Title Study of San Diego State College Properties,” (Master’s thesis, San Diego State College, 1967), 29. While the old Normal School building has been demolished, the teacher training building and several other auxiliary buildings are still standing.
4. Lesley, The First Fifty Years, 41. It’s ironic that, some 38 years earlier, in 1887, the same land surrounding the campus was being promoted by real estate developers who promised to bring a branch of what is now the University of Southern California to the area (hence its name–University Heights). Even more confusing was the fact that the same promoters in 1906 were developing a neighboring tract to the east–“Normal Heights”–several miles removed from the State Normal School.
5. Ibid., 41-42.
6. Lesley, The First Fifty Years, 42, and “Committee Selects Bell-Lloyd Site for College,” San Diego Union, 7 Apr. 1928, 1. Committee members included: William John Cooper, state director of education; Alexander R. Heron, state director of finance; W.E. Givens, superintendent of schools; Will Angier; and Dr. E.L. Hardy, president of San Diego State Teacher’s College.
7. Lesley, The First Fifty Years, 42-46.
9. John O. Pohlmann, “Alphonzo Bell: a Bibliography” (Part I), Southern California Quarterly 46 (Sept. 1964): 212-214, and Ibid. (Part II) 46 (Dec. 1964): 325-327. See also: Bruce Henstell, “Remembering Mr. Bell,” Los Angeles Magazine (January 1985): 107-109, and Articles of Incorporation of the Bell-Lloyd Investment Company, 25 Mar. 1922, San Diego History Center Research Archives, and [A.N. Marquis Company, eds.], Who’s Who on the Pacific Coast (Chicago: A.N. Marquis Company, 1949), 80.
10. Pohlmann, “Alphonzo Bell,” (Part II), 341, and David Gebhard and Robert Winter, A Guide to Architecture in Los Angeles (Santa Barbara: Peregrine Smith, 1977), 116-117.
11. Henstell, “Remembering Mr. Bell,” 109, and Gebhard and Winter, Guide to Architecture, 108 and 163. Mark (Roy) Daniels graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, and later studied at Harvard University before returning to California in 1906. See: Justice B. DeTwiler, ed., Who’s Who in California: a Biographical Directory, 1928-29, (San Francisco: Who’s Who Publishing Company, 1929), 208. In addition to operating his own landscape design and urban planning studio in San Francisco, Daniels became a town planner and civil engineer for the Weyerhaeuser Lumber Company until 1914. From 1914 until 1916, Daniels was appointed landscape designer and civil engineer at Yosemite National Park and general superintendent and landscape engineer for the U.S. National Park Service. During World War I, Daniels served as a captain of Engineers in the U.S. Army (He held the rank of a major of Engineers, Ret., after the war). After the war Daniels designed several noted gardens and subdivisions in the Los Angeles area. Daniels was also a writer of various tomes regarding landscape gardening and residential subdivision planning.
12. Gebhard and Winter, Guide to Architecture, 117, Pohlmann, “Alphonzo Bell,” (Part II), 329, and Henstell, “Remembering Mr. Bell,” 109.
13. Pohlmann, “Alphonzo Bell,” (Part II), 327, Oscar Cotton, “Company Building Homes in College Park,” San Diego Union, 20 Aug. 1933, 1, and Articles of Incorporation of the Mission Palisades Association, 4 Feb. 1932, San Diego History Center Research Archives.
14. “Committee Selects Bell-Lloyd Site,” 1, Cotton, “Company Building Homes,” 1, and Pohlmann, “Alphonzo Bell,” (Part II), 327,
15. Cotton, “Company Building Homes,” 1, and Pohlmann, “Alphonzo Bell,” (Part II), 327.
16. Tenney, “Legal Title Study,” 41.
17. “Committee Selects Bell-Lloyd Site,” 2, and Cotton, “Company Building Homes,” 1. Plans were also being developed by neighboring real estate business interests to the southwest of the proposed campus for the design and construction of a huge cantilevered bridge across Fairmont Canyon west of the campus site. See “Immense Bridge Planned to Span Canyon Leading to College Site,” San Diego Union, 3 Aug. 1928, 1. Due to the Depression in 1929, it never left the drawing board.
18. “Approves Plans for Community Center Buildings,” 3 Apr. 1932, 8, “Ready to Build Homes on Tract Next to College,” San Diego Union, 24 Apr. 1932, 4, and Pohlmann, “Alphonso Bell,” (Part II), 327.
19. “Approves Plans for Community Center Buildings,” 3 Apr. 1932, 8, and “Ready to Build Homes on Tract Next to College,” San Diego Union, 24 Apr. 1932, 4.
20. Bell had previously benefitted his alma mater, Occidental College, with a gift of 800 acres of valuable land, in addition to a cash endowment of $200,000 for improvements. Pohlmann, “Alphonzo Bell,” (Part II), 337-339.
21. “Committee Selects Bell-Lloyd Site,” 2, and Dr. Edward L. Hardy, “The New State College,” San Diego Magazine (Sept. 1929): 3.
22. Lesley, The First Fifty Years, 47, and “Grammar School Now on Old Site,” San Diego Union, 8 Feb. 1931, 4.
23. “Governor Young, President, Meet, Discuss College,” State College Aztec, 16 Oct. 1929, 1.
24. Dr. Hardy, “The New State College,” 3.
25. Gebhard and Winter, Guide to Architecture, 699, and Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 1989), 418.
26. Howard Spencer Hazen (Obit.), in California Highways and Public Works (May 1939), 28. Hazen, a graduate of engineering from the University of Illinois, had studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. After coming to California in 1924, He associated himself with the Sacramento architectural firm of Dean & Dean. It was during this time that he designed several impressive structures in Sacramento, including the Memorial Auditorium, Junior College and the Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 1926 Hazen became senior architectural designer for the State of California’s Division of Architecture. In that capacity, he designed several complete State institutional groups, which, besides San Diego State College, included the Camarillo State Hospital and the California Institution for Women.
27. Howard Hazen, “The Architecture of the New College,” found in [Associated Students], Del Sudoeste (San Diego: 1931), 22-23.
28. Ibid. Mudejar architecture was created by Spanish Moslems under Christian hegemony during the 13th-14th centuries. It combined both Moorish and Italian Renaissance details in the same design. See: Cyril M. Harris, Dictionary of Architecture and Construction (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1975), 323. Mudejar architecture found its way to the New World in the design of many churches, convents, and governmental palaces, as well as private residences. See also: Verna Cook and Warren Shipway, Houses of Mexico: Origins and Traditions (New York: Architectural Book Publishing Company, 1970), xix.
29. Hazen, “New College,” 22, “Hardy Presents Final Gym Plans to State Group,” State College Aztec, 30 Feb. 1932, 1, and “Present and Future Campus,” ca. 1935, n.p. Campus Maps: Vertical File, San Diego State University Love Library Special Collections.
30. “Building Program,” found in Del Sudoeste, [Associated Students] (San Diego: 1931), 178, “Present and Future Campus,” and Hazen, “New College,” 23. Originated in medieval France, a bastide was a heavily defended settlement, generally built in a geometrical plan with tall fortified walls and turrets, built in a hostile land to protect its residents from attack. See also: Harris, Dictionary, 44.
31. Kurt Baer, Architecture of the California Missions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958), 47 and 75-76.
32. Alexander D. Bevil, “The Sacred and the Profane: the Restoration of Mission San Diego de Alcala, 1866-1931,” Journal of San Diego History 38 (Summer 1992): 151. The Mission site was undergoing partial restoration at the time and was completed on September 12, 1931.
33. “Present and Future Campus.”
34. Professor Abraham P. Nasatir, emeritus, interview by author, 13 Mar. 1987.
35. Mark Daniels, “Landscape Plans for the Campus,” El Palenque (May 1931): 7.
37. “City Head Outlines College,” State College Aztec, 24 Sept. 1930, 1.
38. “Earmuffs at Premium as Work Goes On,” State College Aztec, 20 Jan. 1932, 1, and “Tommy Bradeen (Senior Planning Estimator of San Diego State University’s Physical Plant), interview by author, 20 Feb. 1987.
39. “Two Hundred Foot Tower of College to Be New Beacon,” State College Aztec, 20 Jan. 1931, 1, and Bradeen, interview.
40. Bradeen, interview, and California State Department of Architecture, “Sewer Treatment Plant,” (1930) Architectural Drawings, San Diego State University Library, Special Collections.
41. “Sewer Treatment Plant.” Some of the older campus groundworkers related to the author that, when they first came to work in the late 1940s, they were warned not to drink the water used to irrigate the area known as the “Women’s Field” (today’s PE 700 field), because it was “piss water.” It was also said that some of the largest tomatoes could be found growing down by the sludge pit. However, no one volunteered whether or not they ate any.
42. Bradeen, interview.
43. Hazen, “New College,” 26.
44. Richard S. Requa, “Architecture of the State College,” El Palenque (May 1931): 5.
45. Hazen, “New College,” 24.
46. “Training School at New College Is Modern Type,” State College Aztec, 8 Oct. 1930, 1. The Training School (sometimes referred to as the “Campus Lab School”) had carrying on a tradition from the days of the old State Normal School in University Heights. An actual elementary school, it was a facility where student teachers could experience and be themselves observed and evaluated in actual elementary school conditions. During the 1950’s it was relocated to a new building along the Campus Lab Lawn, the majority of which was demolished to make way for the new Student Services Building.
47. Ibid. Campus legend has it that the huge variegated leaf fig tree was planted from a pot by a professor when it had grown too large for her office.
48. “New Cottage Opened for Women Students,” State College Aztec, 16 Sept. 1931, 1, and “Scripps Cottage to be Dedicated,” State College Aztec, 23 Sept. 1931, 2. Of historic note: the cornerstone of the old Normal School, according to “Tommy” Bradeen, is located in the brick barbecue behind the cottage.
49. Recently demolished, this subdued Art Deco style building had a unique history all in itself. “Notices of Completion,” San Diego Daily Transcript, 30 Sept. 1931, 8. Designed by Los Angeles architect Frank A. Brown in 1931, the building, in addition to being a men’s dormitory (Montezuma Hall), and later, from 1939-60 a women’s dormitory and sorority house (Quetzal and Aztec Halls), it served as the headquarters of the Bell-Lloyd and Mission Palisades companies, and was the only building of the planned commercial plaza ever completed. See also: “Realty Activities Center,” San Diego Union, 22 Oct. 1933, 9, “Hail Aztecs: Montezuma Hall Is Now Open,” (Advertisement) State College Aztec, 20 Jan. 1932, 4, and “Apartments for Men Constructed,” State College Aztec, 16 Sept. 1931, 1.
50. “President Hardy Signs Architect’s Drawings for $150,000 Gymnasium Unit,” State College Aztec, 6 May 1931, 1, “Delay in Gymnasium Plans Remedied,” State College Aztec, 26 Nov. 1932, 6, and “Hardy Presents Final Gym Plans to State Group,” State College Aztec, 30 Mar. 1932, 1.
51. Manuel Toussant, Arte Mudejar en America(Porrua, Mexico: Editorial Porrua, 1946), plate LXII.
52. “Building Considered Finest on the Coast,” State College Aztec, 13 Dec. 1933, 1.
53. “Approves Plans,” 8, and “Ready to Build Homes,” San Diego Union, 4.
54. Pohlmann, “Alphonzo Bell,” (Part II), 327.
55. Henstell, “Remembering Mr. Bell,” 110. Bell’s previous snubbing of William Randolph Hearst had come back to haunt him. The Hurst-owned Los Angles Herald was conducting a smear campaign against Bell over the environmental effects the cement manufacturing plant would have on the surrounding communities.
56. Pohlmann “Alphonzo Bell,” (Part II), 327-28), Lloyd B. Farmer, the company’s former assistant treasurer, remained in the company’s former sales office, where he operated his own real estate sales office until 1941. San Diego City and County Business Directories. Misfortune continued to plague those associated with the aborted Mission Palisades project. Farmer was indicted by the federal grand jury in Los Angeles on charges of defrauding the government in Federal Housing Administration transactions. See: “S.D. Men Face FHA Charges,” San Diego Union, 19 May 1939, A12. The indictment stemmed from Farmer, along with San Diego building contractors E.W. and M.S. Dennstedt, and realtor R.E. Veall, allegedly filing false and misleading reports to the FHA.
57. These included Aztec Bowl, the extension of the arcade from the Administration Building to the Science Building, and the installation of the statue of “Monty Montezuma,” in 1937 (Monty was relocated from his original site in the Old Campus Quad to his new home near the Transportation Center ca. 1984). The last WPA-constructed building was the Science Lecture Hall in 1940. Del Sudoeste (1937-1940).
58. These include: the Greek Bowl (the Open Air Theater) in 1941; the Music Building (Speech and Telecommunications) in 1943; the Art Building (the original built at street level, not the maze spilling down the canyon) in 1951; the Science Building (Physics-Astronomy); the New Campus Lab School (parts demolished); the second Music Building (KPBS Studio); the arcade in front of Aztec Shops and the East Commons; and the second Administration Building (designed by Sam Hamill) in 1953. See Del Sudoeste (1942-53), and State of California, Department of Public Works, Administration Building, 1952. Architectural Drawings, San Diego State University Special Collections.
59. Dirk Sutro, “SDSU Mission Falls Far Short,” Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 1990, E1.
Alexander D. Bevil has written several articles for the Journal of San Diego History regarding San Diego’s architectural history. His recent essay on the work of local architect Emmor Brooke Weaver will be included in a forthcoming book about California Craftsman Era architects. He currently sits on the board of directors of the Save Our Heritage Organisation [SOHO], a county-wide association promoting historic preservation in San Diego. In addition, Mr. Bevil works as a park interpretive specialist for the California Department of Parks & Recreation, and as an independent contract historian, specializing in historic building surveys. He also teaches a class in San Diego history through the San Diego Community College District.