Art and history at the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

One of the sites that I visited this weekend during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017 was the SDSU Downtown Gallery. I’d never stepped into the small art gallery before. Rotating exhibits feature the work of faculty and students at SDSU.

The building in which the gallery is housed, located at the corner of Kettner Boulevard and Broadway, served as the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway. The historic railway, which served a large area of early San Diego, was established by John D. Spreckels.

According to a short tour and handout I was given, a circa 1900 building at this location served as an earlier San Diego Electric Railway power house, railcar barn and paint shop. Some enormous doors still exist in the building today where train cars would enter and exit. I also learned the extravagant 1897 Los Banos bathhouse stood at the building’s northwest corner–but there remains no trace of that historic old structure.

In 1921, San Diego Consolidated Gas and Electric Company purchased Station B, and two additions to the building were subsequently made. The additions were designed by famed architect William Templeton Johnson.

Today the original Station B power plant contains powerful works of art, and forms a section of the base of the skyscraping Electra Building, a modern residential development built in 2008.

Please enjoy some photos of the gallery and the historic building.

If you love art and find yourself downtown while the gallery is open, swing on by!

I took this photo at another time. Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this used to be the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this originally was the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
More eye-catching works of art.
More eye-catching works of art.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
A short talk begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE 2017.
A short tour begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery–Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn. Was coal for the power plant unloaded here? I don't know.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn.
Our tour walks along Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Our small tour group walks down the sidewalk along the Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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