Balboa Park’s amazing, old Federal Building–like new!

Check out these amazing photographs!

For too many years, the exterior of Balboa Park’s historic Federal Building had languished neglected in a state of decay.

Not any more!

This is what I saw yesterday as I walked through the Palisades area of Balboa Park.

The Federal Building, built for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition, has suddenly returned to life. What visitors to Balboa Park will now see is something more like the building’s original appearance.

This uniquely beautiful building will be the home of the Comic-Con Museum, which is scheduled to open this coming Thanksgiving weekend.

The repair and painting of the Federal Building’s exterior was made possible in large part by the Balboa Park Committee of 100.

You can see photos of the historic restoration getting underway a few weeks ago and learn a little more by clicking here.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Unusual and brilliant designs in San Diego!

San Diego-Tijuana has become a finalist for the World Design Capital in 2024. The two cross-border cities together have made the first ever binational bid for this international honor, which is bestowed by the World Design Organization.

According to their website, the World Design Organization evaluates “use of design to drive economic, social, cultural, and environmental development.” When you include the terms social and cultural, doesn’t that cover just about everything?

As I walked down Broadway this morning, I saw the street banners in the next photograph…

…and an idea suddenly popped into my brain.

Over the years Cool San Diego Sights has documented all sorts of interesting, unusual and brilliant designs: in art, in fashion, in architecture, in furniture, in quilts . . . you name it!

Not all of the fantastic designs you’ll see in the upcoming links originated locally. But many did!

Click the following links for fascinating photos and descriptions:

Architecture inspired by nature . . . and UFOs!

Malcolm Leland’s modernist designs in San Diego.

Kids create Minecraft-style Mona Lisa mural!

Cleverly designed furniture is surprising, playful art!

A visit to the California Surf Museum!

Amazing life-size cardboard superhero sculptures!

An amazing cube, like real Space: full of stars!

A 180 ton teddy bear made of boulders!

Museum exhibit shows evolution of fashion.

The fantastic, amazing Harper’s Topiary Garden!

Salk Institute architect Louis Kahn: an amazing exhibit!

Print Culture exhibit at San Diego Central Library.

Early American quilts: amazing color and patterns!

Ray Bradbury and crazy Horton Plaza.

Unfolding Humanity appears at Maker Faire!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

New public art coming to Balboa Park previewed!

Monumental public art is now being created for the Palisades area of Balboa Park!

Once completed, a pair of life-size grizzly bear sculptures will be placed on the roof of the 1935 California State Building, home of the San Diego Automotive Museum. In addition, a large 12′ x 20′ cold cast bronze panel is destined to greet visitors approaching the front entrance of the 1935 Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries, which today serves as the Municipal Gymnasium.

The two buildings were constructed for the 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.

In 2021, almost a century later, both building exteriors, with the help of local architect Robert Thiele, are undergoing a historic restoration.

Today I was privileged to have an amazing preview!

Take a look at these photographs of a model grizzly bear standing in an indoor work area at Bellagio Precast. The bear, symbol of California, was created by San Diego sculptor Michael Matson and his son Kevin.

As you can see, the huge golden grizzly is ready to be completely cast.

A rendering shows how completed bear sculptures will be positioned atop the two front corners of the San Diego Automotive Museum, overlooking Pan American Plaza, with its proposed Singing Color Fountains.

The large bronze panel to be placed above the front entrance of the Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries building will soon be created out in the yard of Bellagio Precast. Some blocks of ornamentation meant to surround the panel are already finished.

The panel’s design is based on the original 1935 bas-relief designed by Arturo Eneim that was carved out of layers of fragile wallboard.

Imagery in the panel includes an electrical power plant and the gears of industrial machinery. During the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition, crowds marveled at the latest technological inventions. Inside the Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries was the House of Magic, which showcased a “talking kitchen” and television!

The following images show how the building and its panel will appear when all is completed.

A wood framework for working on the very large cold cast bronze panel is ready outside.

I took a photograph of finished blocks of ornamentation that will be installed beneath the panel, along the edge of the building’s marquee.

It will be interesting to follow the progress of these projects, which are made possible by the Balboa Park Committee of 100. It will be really exciting to see the final result!

Is it possible for beautiful Balboa Park to become even more amazing?

Yes!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Photographs of the SDSU Clay Gateway.

I recently rode a bus to the SDSU Transit Center on my way to another destination. I had plenty of time, so I walked a couple of blocks south to the corner of Montezuma Road and Campanile Drive to have a good look at the Clay Gateway.

The Clay Gateway opened in 2016. Rising simply but elegantly, decorated with patterned tiles, the gateway serves as a formal campus entrance to San Diego State University. Shining plaques on either side of the entrance state: THROUGH THESE GATES WILL PASS OUR FUTURE LEADERS.

You can learn more about the Clay Gateway, named after SDSU supporters Ben and Nikki Clay, by clicking here.

Here are my photos…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Comic-Con Museum’s historic Federal Building restored!

The exterior of the historic Federal Building in Balboa Park, future home of the Comic-Con Museum, is currently being restored!

During my walk today I noticed the unique building, built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition, is being patched up and painted to match several principal buildings in the Palisades area of the Balboa Park.

The Federal Building was designed by architect Richard Requa, who gave this and other nearby buildings a pre-Columbian appearance. According to this article, the ornamental detailing on the main entrance was unquestionably derived from the Palace of the Governor in Uxmal, Yucatan.

In one photograph you can see how the Federal Building was once home of the San Diego Hall of Champions.

The Comic-Con Museum will be opening this Thanksgiving weekend, in conjunction with the 2021 Comic-Con Special Edition to be held at the San Diego Convention Center.

After taking these photos I peered through the front windows, and I could see some preliminary construction going on inside.

The Comic-Con Museum already has 15,000 members. And I’m one.

I can’t wait for it to open!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

The historic William Clayton House in Bankers Hill.

Those entering Balboa Park from Bankers Hill might notice this beautiful old house at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street. During my walks I’ve often wondered about it.

After doing a little research, I discovered it’s called the William Clayton House. It was designed in 1907 by San Diego’s first female architect, Hazel Wood Waterman.

Hazel Wood Waterman got her start as one of renowned architect Irving J. Gill’s two chief draftspeople. With a particular love for the Arts and Crafts style, she would eventually design a number of houses and buildings around San Diego. Her most famous work was the 1910 restoration of the Casa de Estudillo in Old Town, a commission that came from John D. Spreckels.

You can learn more about Hazel Wood Waterman here.

The William Clayton House barely avoided demolition almost thirty years ago. You can read about that here. Today it is San Diego Historic Landmark #270 and location of the Vista Balboa Crisis Center.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

The surprising old Ramona Town Hall.

During my recent visit to Ramona, I walked down Main Street past the old Town Hall building and took a few photos.

Several plaques on the stately building provide a glimpse of its rich history. I was completely surprised to learn that Ramona Town Hall isn’t made of brick, but of adobe made to appear like red bricks!

As you can see for yourself, the appearance is convincing!

According to the Ramona Chamber of Commerce website, which includes a couple of historical photographs: “The Town Hall has served as the town’s first library, first movie theater, first high school, first bank, dance hall, justice court, and the birthplace of several of the communities’ service groups, including the Masonic Lodge, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Volunteer Fire department. Additionally, the Town Hall has hosted a wide variety of events, including Temperance Meetings, Turkey Days, Voting Polls, 4-H Youth Meetings, Miss Ramona Contests, Political Meetings, Community Theater; Silent Film Festivals, Town Hall Days, etc..”

A description on the above plaque begins:

Dedicated on Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1894, this building was given to the townspeople of Nuevo (as Ramona was then known) by rancher and financier Augustus Barnett and his wife Martha. Feeling that the local schoolhouse was not a proper place to hold dances and other social events, Barnett donated $17,000 in gold coin to erect a building that could serve as the social center for the community as well as host a library.

Ramona Town Hall was designed by noted San Diego architect William S. Hebbard. Built of adobe with brick veneer in the Romanesque/Mission Revival style, it is considered one of the largest freestanding adobe structures in the southwest…

Another surprising discovery during an ordinary walk!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Unexpected movie star in the Gaslamp Quarter!

San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter has attracted celebrities from all around the world, particularly during big international events like Comic-Con. But did you know there’s one movie star that calls the Gaslamp home?

Walk down Fifth Avenue past the 7-Eleven and you’ve spotted a “movie star” that has appeared in two films. The convenience store occupies the 1930 Manila Cafe building, which was used as a “backdrop for scenes in the movies In God We Trust, with Marty Feldman, and Writer’s Block, with Morgan Fairchild.” That’s what a corroded historical marker by the 7-Eleven’s front door reads!

According to this article, the old Manila Café building has been occupied by a variety of restaurants over the years, and by a billiard hall during World War II. In 2014 the exterior was renovated, but the roof with its red Spanish tiles and Asian contours, and the building’s distinctive upper story, haven’t changed.

Have you watched either movie? Have you spotted San Diego’s “famous” Manila Cafe building in the background?

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The historical Carriage Works building downtown.

There’s an unusual old building in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter called the Carriage Works. You can find it at the corner of Fourth Avenue and G Street.

If the Carriage Works with its wide arched doorways appears different from other historical buildings in the Gaslamp, that’s because it used to be a place where San Diegans would go to purchase horse-drawn buggies and wagons!

Today the Carriage Works is home to music venues and eateries including GARAGE Kitchen + Bar, Tin Roof, and The Shout! House.

I took these photos about a month ago. You can see how outdoor dining areas were set up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I also photographed a plaque that provides a brief description of the building’s history.

Carriage Works, 1890

Constructed to house the wholesale business of Todd and Hawley, which operated here until 1902. Their stock was purchased by Lyons Implement Company, which carried a complete line of Studebaker vehicles, including buggies and wagons. Along with Lyon, San Diego Gas & Electric, San Diego Farm and Dairy Supply, a tent and awning company and the Volunteers of America have occupied the building.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Photos of Carlsbad’s grand, historic Twin Inns.

Several impressive landmark buildings can be observed during a visit to Carlsbad.

Perhaps the most prominent landmark stands at the corner of Carlsbad Boulevard (the local stretch of old Highway 101) and Carlsbad Village Drive. It’s called the Twin Inns. Look for the big blue Victorian building next to the Carlsbad gateway sign.

Approach the Twin Inns and you’ll not only be impressed by its grand architecture, but you’ll have the opportunity to view an informative plaque that relates a good deal of fascinating history.

The plaque by the front steps reads:

TWIN INNS

This Victorian structure was built in 1887 for Gerhard Schutte, whose role in the development of the town led to his being called the “Father of Carlsbad.” Schutte and partners Samuel Church Smith and D.D. Wadsworth founded the Carlsbad Land and Mineral Water Company and had as their vision “a town of small farms and gracious homes.” To that end they bought 400 prime acres at $40 per acre for development as a community. They laid out a townsite, lined roads with eucalyptus seedlings, and named the streets. This property was converted to the Twin Inns Restaurant circa 1917 by Whiting and Reed and was purchased by Ed and Neva Kentner in 1919. It was named the Twin Inns since the building was identical to the nearby Wadsworth home, also used as an inn. The building was extensively remodeled with a large octagonal dining room added in 1922. The Twin Inns was a popular summer dining area frequented by many of the Hollywood set after a day at the races and later figured prominently in Carlsbad’s history serving as the site of the first City Council meeting and deliberations on the city’s incorporation. The building was also famous for its fried chicken dinners, which were promoted by large plaster chickens out front. After 60 years as a family business, the Twin Inns was sold in 1984 and became part of the Village Faire Shopping Center.

COURTESY OF THE CARLSBAD HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION

On either side of the steps you’ll find two decorative signs…

The Twin Inns – Famous Chicken Dinners
Built by Alonzo Culver for Gerhard Schutte in 1887.
The north side of the Twin Inns.
The south side of the Twin Inns. You can see a sign for one small business that presently occupies the building, Sun Diego Boardshop.
The southeast corner of the Twin Inns. This part of the historic building is now used by Pedego Electric Bikes.

I was told by a friendly employee of Pedego Electric Bikes that the above door, on the building’s east side, used to be an entrance to a speakeasy back during Prohibition!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!