Sand sculpture murals show San Diego history!

Two bas-relief sand sculpture panels by renowned artist Charles R. Faust in the lobby of 2550 Fifth Avenue in San Diego.
Two bas-relief sand sculpture panels by renowned artist Charles R. Faust in the lobby of 2550 Fifth Avenue in San Diego.

Two amazing works of art can be viewed inside an office building in Bankers Hill. The small murals–sculptures made of sand that appear as bas-relief panels–decorate a wall in the lobby of 5th & Laurel, the building best known as the home of Mister A’s restaurant.

Commissioned by the now defunct Great American First Savings Bank to celebrate their Centennial in 1985, the two panels depict important San Diego landmarks and aspects of local history.

The two sand cast panels were created by Charles R. Faust (1922 – 2000), a prolific artist who for many years worked as the director of architectural design at the San Diego Zoo. His invention of moated animal enclosures in the mid-1950’s revolutionized how the world famous zoo and their Wild Animal Park near Escondido exhibited animals. He also designed the San Diego Zoo’s huge walk-in aviary–the first of its kind in the world.

After retiring from that job, Charles opened Faust Sand Casting in Ocean Beach with his son. Over his creative lifetime the art of Charles Faust would also include fine drawings, watercolors and oil paintings, many of which depicted life in the Old West, a theme he loved.

His sand sculpture murals have added beauty to many locations around San Diego. I photographed a couple of these murals in the past for Cool San Diego Sights, without realizing at the time they were created by Charles Faust. You can spot them here and here!

Yesterday morning I spoke to a security guard in the lobby of 5th & Laurel, and he said these two “sand art” panels were moved from a suite in the building where there used to be a bank. I believe they were in Suite 120, once the home of Pacific Premier Bank, and the future home of an upscale Italian restaurant. But I’m not sure about the exact history of these particular panels. If you know anything more about them, please leave a comment!

(Please note these photographs make the panels seem more yellowish than they are in reality, due to the indoor lighting and my modest camera.)

The left panel depicts early San Diego history, including Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the ranchos.
The panel on the left. It depicts early San Diego history, including Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the ranchos.
A friar outside the Spanish mission. The man on horseback might be a soldier from the old presidio.
A friar outside the Spanish mission. The man on horseback might be a soldier from the old presidio.
The bells of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, first Spanish mission in California.
The bells of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, first Spanish mission in Alta California.
Scenes from the Old West in San Diego.
Scenes from the Old West in San Diego, including an old wagon and a ride on a bucking horse.
A rancher or vaquero, and a herd of cattle.
A rancher or vaquero, and a herd of cattle.
The right panel depicts more San Diego landmarks. Images include Balboa Park, a streetcar, Coronado ferry, naval ship, farm and Victorian houses.
The panel on the right. It depicts many later San Diego landmarks. Images include Balboa Park, a streetcar, Coronado ferry, naval ship, farm and Victorian houses.
GREAT AMERICAN CENTENNIAL - 100 YEARS - 1885-1985
GREAT AMERICAN CENTENNIAL – 100 YEARS – 1885-1985
A sailboat and birds share San Diego Bay with a pre-bridge Coronado ferry and an old Navy warship.
A sailboat and birds share San Diego Bay with a pre-bridge Coronado ferry and an early 20th century Navy warship. In the upper right corner I spy a tiny Old Point Loma Lighthouse!
I recognize the Cabrillo Bridge and the California Building and Tower.
I recognize the Cabrillo Bridge and the California Building and Tower of Balboa Park.
I think I recognize the Long-Waterman House of Bankers Hill on the left. The house on the right might be a south view of the Britt-Scripps House, but I'm not certain.
I think I recognize the historic Long-Waterman House of Bankers Hill. The house to the right of it might be a south view of the Britt-Scripps House, but it appears a bit different.

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Photos from recent walks around San Diego.

A couple walks along Broadway in downtown San Diego.
A couple walks along Broadway in downtown San Diego.

This long, lazy weekend I’ve been sifting through my computer, searching for fun photos that I haven’t used yet. I discovered a few that I’d like to share.

These photographs are in no particular order. All were taken in the vicinity of downtown. I snapped them during recent walks down from Cortez Hill, where I live.

You might see why I love San Diego.

Buildings in East Village reflected in the glass windows of the headquarters of Sempra Energy.
Several buildings in East Village are reflected in the glass windows of the headquarters of Sempra Energy.
Looking up at the fantastic dome of downtown's Central Library.
Looking up at the fantastic dome of downtown’s Central Library.
People enjoy the grassy hill in the Park at the Park, near the statue of baseball hitting legend Tony Gwynn.
People enjoy the grassy hill in the Park at the Park, near the statue of baseball hitting legend Tony Gwynn.
A banner hanging on a lamppost near the Gaslamp Quarter landmark sign shows a fun photo from San Diego history.
A banner hanging on a lamppost near the Gaslamp Quarter landmark sign shows a fun photo from San Diego history.
I'm not sure if this is a fluffy llama or alpaca. It stands guard in front of Inka's Bar and Grill in the Gaslamp.
I’m not sure if this is a fluffy llama or alpaca. It stands guard in front of Inka’s Bar and Grill in the Gaslamp.
The Art of Dr. Seuss is now showing at The Chuck Jones Gallery in the Gaslamp.
The Art of Dr. Seuss is now showing at The Chuck Jones Gallery in the Gaslamp.
People play in the fun, splashing fountain at Horton Plaza Park.
People play in the fun, splashing fountain at Horton Plaza Park.
Colorful new banners have recently appeared around Cortez Hill. Very cool!
Colorful new banners have recently appeared around Cortez Hill. Very cool!
Morning photo of the handsome old World Trade Center building, once home to publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Morning photo of the handsome old World Trade Center building, once home to publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Some guys ride their bikes down Fourth Avenue through Bankers Hill.
Some guys ride their bikes down Fourth Avenue through Bankers Hill.
Bright red bougainvillea on a building's balcony in Little Italy.
Bright red bougainvillea on a building’s balcony in Little Italy.
Sunlight on the side of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
Sunlight on the side of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
A few days ago I spotted a couple in Tuna Harbor having their engagement photos taken by the water.
A few days ago I spotted a couple in Tuna Harbor having their engagement photos taken by the water.
Tourist souvenirs on a vendor's cart on the Embarcadero.
Tourist souvenirs on a vendor’s cart on the Embarcadero.
The Admiral Hornblower and another boat pass near the bow of the USS Midway Museum, recently deemed the best attraction in California.
The Admiral Hornblower and another boat pass near the bow of the USS Midway Museum, recently deemed the best attraction in California.
Enjoying San Diego bay from the end of Broadway Pier, watching the Maritime Museum of San Diego's restored Swift Boat pass on by.
Enjoying sunny San Diego Bay from the end of Broadway Pier, watching the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s restored Swift Boat pass on by.

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An architectural masterpiece in San Diego.

An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.
An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist building, designed by renowned architect Irving Gill and completed in 1910, is considered by many to be a masterpiece. I often pause a minute or two to admire its simple, rhythmic beauty when I walk near Second Avenue and Laurel Street in Bankers Hill.

During the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event a couple weekends ago, I ventured inside the church for the very first time.

I was interested to learn that when it was completed over a century ago, the mayor of San Diego considered the building such an amazing architectural accomplishment that he showed it to visiting dignitaries. I also learned that the church underwent a “modern” remodel in the 1950’s, which removed archways, windows and the beautiful glass dome. Thankfully the building was restored to its original appearance in 1998.

To my fascinated eyes, the arches, windows and tower are elegant, like notes of music. The white stucco enhances every perfect line and curve, as if a cloud were carved precisely with the architect’s pencil.

I took some photos! Read the captions for additional information.

Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation OPEN HOUSE.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space. I’m reminded of a jewel’s bright facets.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
A large poster containing photographs of the building's 1950's appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
A large poster containing photographs of the building’s 1950’s appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
The poster's legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
The poster’s legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950's. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950’s. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
An architectural marvel in San Diego's Bankers Hill neighborhood.
An architectural marvel in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood.

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!

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A quick peek inside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

View of St. Paul's Cathedral in Bankers Hill from across Fifth Avenue.
View of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral from across Fifth Avenue.

I swung by St. Paul’s Cathedral in Bankers Hill a couple weekends ago during the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event. A friendly gentleman named Bob who belongs to this Episcopal church showed me the original Great Hall which was completed in 1929, then the impressive interior of the cathedral, or “big house” as he called it, which was finally completed in 1951.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was designed by architect Philip Frohman, who is best remembered as the designer of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The building contains elements of both Gothic and Romanesque architecture. The original pipes of the historic church organ date from 1887. They were brought by ship around Cape Horn, to serve as the first organ in Old Town San Diego.

The cathedral was visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 during her trip to San Diego aboard Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia. I was told that she spoke to the congregation and enjoyed listening to Evensong.

I gleaned a few odd bits of information during the informal tour and have included them in my photo captions.

Looking north at the impressive cathedral and its stained glass windows from Nutmeg Street.
Looking north at the impressive cathedral and its many stained glass windows from Nutmeg Street.
St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego was designed by famed architect Philip Frohman.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego was designed by famed architect Philip Frohman.
Ladies exit through an arcade of elegant columns.
Ladies exit through an arcade of elegant columns.
A gentleman in the church's courtyard greeted visitors for the weekend architectural event.
A gentleman in the church’s courtyard greeted visitors during the weekend architectural event.
Construction of St. Paul's Parish House or Great Hall began in 1928.
Construction of St. Paul’s parish house or Great Hall began in 1928.
The most notable thing I saw in the Great Hall is the incredible original wooden beamed ceiling, which is showing signs of age.
The most notable thing I saw in the Great Hall is the incredible original wooden beamed ceiling, which is showing signs of age.
Turning my camera for another shot of this amazing ceiling.
Turning my camera for another shot of this amazing ceiling.
Sunlight enters through a rose window.
Sunlight enters through a rose window.
A plaque in the courtyard area between the Great Hall and cathedral. This garden commemorates the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to this church on February 27, 1983.
A plaque in the courtyard area between the Great Hall and cathedral. This garden commemorates the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to this church on February 27, 1983.
Inside the beautiful cathedral, looking east from the nave toward the chancel and historic pipe organ.
Inside the beautiful cathedral, looking east from the nave toward the chancel and historic Great Organ.
People have quietly entered the sacred place. The gray interior walls allow the stained glass lancet windows, created by Judson Studios in Pasadena, to fill the eyes of worshipers.
People have quietly entered the sacred place. The gray interior walls allow light from the stained glass lancet windows, created by Judson Studios in Pasadena, to fill the eyes of worshipers.
This small Lady Chapel to the east was built in 1975. It is used for weddings and other celebrations. It contains a much smaller organ.
This small Lady Chapel to the east was built in 1975. It’s used for weddings and other celebrations. It contains a smaller organ.
The cathedra, or bishop's throne, off to one side.
The cathedra, or bishop’s seat, off to one side.
More resplendent stained glass, like celestial visions shining through darkness.
More resplendent stained glass, like celestial visions shining through darkness.

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!

Amazing views from sky deck of The Barcelona!

Old photo of The Barcelona Apartment-Hotel in Bankers Hill, built 1921-1923.
Old photo of The Barcelona Apartment-Hotel in Bankers Hill, built 1921-1923.

I hadn’t planned to visit The Barcelona yesterday during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event. But as I walked up Bankers Hill from one site to another, I spotted the old building and decided to venture inside. I’m so happy I did!

The almost century-old structure originally featured both a hotel and apartments, complete with solarium, ballroom, restaurant and golf course. Today it has been converted into an apartment building with amazing views of nearby downtown San Diego.

My favorite part of the short tour was visiting the sky deck up on the rooftop. Check out my photos and you’ll see why! Make sure to read the captions for more info about this historical building.

The Barcelona's apartments today, photographed from Juniper Street.
The Barcelona’s apartments today, photographed from Juniper Street.
The Barcelona is a featured location during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.
The Barcelona is a featured location during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.
City of San Diego historical landmark plaque near entrance to The Barcelona.
City of San Diego historical landmark plaque near entrance to The Barcelona.
The Barcelona was built in the Spanish Colonial/Spanish Eclectic style. It was designed by architect Eugene Hoffman.
The Barcelona was built in the Spanish Colonial/Spanish Eclectic style. It was designed by architect Eugene Hoffman.
Excavation of the site took 6 months. The current penthouse units on the 5th floor roof originally formed a solarium.
Excavation of the site took 6 months. The current penthouse units on the 5th floor roof originally formed a solarium.
Historic postcards of The Barcelona in San Diego.
Historic postcards of The Barcelona in San Diego.
A volunteer for the OPEN HOUSE event took me up the historic elevator!
A volunteer for the OPEN HOUSE architectural event took me up the historic elevator!
The cool old elevator reminded me of my childhood, when I dreamed of becoming an elevator operator!
The cool old elevator reminded me of my childhood, when I dreamed of becoming an elevator operator!
The volunteer guide quickly showed me one of the sunlight-filled apartments. The view of downtown is incredible.
The volunteer guide quickly showed me one of the sunlight-filled apartments. The view of downtown is incredible.
But the sky deck is something else!
But the sky deck will take your breath away!
Incredible view of Bankers Hill and San Diego Bay from the sky deck of The Barcelona!
Incredible view of Bankers Hill and San Diego Bay from the sky deck of The Barcelona!
The building's penthouse apartments are beyond this comfy outdoor sofa.
The building’s penthouse apartments are beyond this comfy outdoor sofa.
Looking down on the rooftops of Bankers Hill!
Looking down on the many colorful rooftops of Bankers Hill!
An incredible view of the downtown San Diego skyline from the sky deck of The Barcelona!
An incredible view of the downtown San Diego skyline from the sky deck of The Barcelona!

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!

Beautiful sanctuary of historic San Diego church.

Today I visited six truly amazing buildings in Bankers Hill and Balboa Park. All six are featured locations in the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.

I enjoyed fascinating looks inside architectural gems–special looks the public seldom experiences. I took lots of photos and intend to tour a few more iconic locations tomorrow. So I have a lot of blogging to do the next week or two!

My very first stop this morning was the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego, located in Bankers Hill on Date Street, between Third and Fourth Avenue. The friendly church manager greeted visitors at the front door, and he was very nice to give me a short tour inside the building.

The first thing I learned was that this is actually the First Presbyterian Church’s third structure in San Diego. The initial congregation came together in 1869 in what was then called New Town–now downtown San Diego. The first church structure was built at Eighth and D Streets on land donated by Alonzo Horton. As the membership grew, a second church building was begun in 1887, on property adjacent to the first. Unfortunately the land boom of that time soon came to an end. Somehow that building was completed in spite of financial difficulties.

The present building, the focus of this tour, had its first service in 1913 in the Assembly Room, about a year before the amazing sanctuary was finally completed and this third church was dedicated. Located near the base of Bankers Hill overlooking downtown, the imposing cathedral-like structure incorporates huge stained glass windows that were preserved from the previous building, including the exquisite central panels Christ the Sower.

Sowing seeds of compassion in our community, the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego makes it a point to feed many of the homeless downtown–almost 250 souls every Sunday. These good folks practice what they preach.

Like many grand old churches, the exterior of the present-day building might appear a bit worn by time and weather, but the interior, with its warm wood and glowing stained glass at every turn, seems like a tiny glimpse of heaven.

I must say I was really impressed by the grace, grandeur and beauty of the sanctuary. And the kind smile of my tour guide.

View of the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego from Fourth Avenue. The stained glass window shines its light into a very beautiful sanctuary.
View of the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego from Fourth Avenue. A large, historic stained glass window shines its light into a very beautiful sanctuary.
View of the church's south side along Date Street.
Partial view of the church’s south side along Date Street.
Plaque on building indicates the First Presbyterian Church was erected in 1913.
Plaque on building indicates the First Presbyterian Church was erected in 1913.
An historical photo near the church office shows the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego about a hundred years ago, in what was then considered the outskirts of town.
Historical photo near the church office shows the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego about a hundred years ago, in what was then considered the outskirts of town.
Entering doors that lead to the magnificent sanctuary.
Entering doors that lead to the magnificent sanctuary.

The church's nearly 6,000 pipe Casavant organ rises like rays of silvery light crowning the chancel.
The church’s nearly 6,000 pipe Casavant organ rises like rays of silvery light crowning the chancel.
Heading up some handsome stairs near colorful stained glass. We will emerge on the sanctuary's balcony.
Heading up some stairs near colorful stained glass. We will emerge on the sanctuary’s balcony.

One of the finest examples of stained glass in San Diego shines light into the historic church.
One of the finest examples of stained glass in San Diego shines light into the historic church.
A scene from the Bible, to the glory of God.
A scene from the Bible, to the glory of God.
The likeness of Christ, created in memory of one of the faithful.
The likeness of Christ, in memory of one of the faithful.
A place for religious faith and worship. Amazing beauty inside the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.
A place for religious faith and worship. Amazing beauty inside the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.

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 from the 2017 Architectural Open House!

Visitors enter the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE 2017.
Visitors enter the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017.

This weekend the San Diego Architectural Foundation is having their big annual Open House event!

For 2018, an amazing 84 locations will participate, each building or urban site recognized for its unique contribution to San Diego’s architectural history. Many different architectural styles will be highlighted, at locations in Balboa Park, Bankers Hill, downtown, the Gaslamp, East Village, Barrio Logan and Point Loma. Some locations will offer guided tours or special talks; at many others the public is invited to take a self-guided tour.

To find out more, including days and times of tours this Saturday and Sunday, check out the SDAF website here.

In 2017 I took full advantage of this event and visited a range of interesting places. The following are links to photographs that I took:

Elegant interior of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel.

Colorful stained glass windows of The Abbey.

Art and history at the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

Photos behind the scenes at Copley Symphony Hall!

Elegance and history at downtown San Diego hotel.

Keating Building in downtown San Diego.

Paintings in Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room. (I took these photos during a 2017 Open House tour of the House of Hospitality. Unfortunately I joined the group midstream and took few useful notes.)

Photos inside the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.

After you check those links out, here’s another related memory that’s rather peculiar and fun!

My photographs from the blog post Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture turns white! were used by the San Diego Architectural Society on their website when the sculpture’s ghastly color change earned it an Onion Award in 2014.

Thank goodness that sculpture looks much better today!

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!