GDC Construction: A Long La Jolla History

The Dewhurst family and GDC Construction have been utilizing their collective know-how and exceptional skills to turn ideas and concepts into reality for nearly a hundred years.

It all began when Ernie W. Dewhurst founded a construction company in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, England. Subsequently, he immigrated to the United States through historical Ellis Island. Ernie soon settled in Hollywood in the early 1900s, where he utilized his extraordinary skills to construct movie sets. He was asked to build a home in La Jolla and instantly developed an affinity for the then-relatively uninhabited, quaint seaside town.

Ernie relocated his family to the village in 1920 and started work as one of the only builders in town. Due to hard work and commitment, by 1929 the Dewhurst passion for constructing elegant homes flourished and became a full-fledged, successful construction business.

Ernie’s son Walter Dewhurst teamed up with the business in 1948 with a thirst to sustain the family tradition throughout the 20th century. Much like his father, Walter was an innovator, mover and shaker in the construction industry in La Jolla, constructing several of the community’s finest residences.

Some of the community’s enduring hallmarks were built by Walter. The Athenaeum, a veritable La Jolla landmark, was remodeled by Walter in 1956. Today it houses an art and music library. Moreover, Walter built the Mount Soledad Cross in 1954. Adding to the cross, in 2001 the war memorial surrounding it was inspired and developed by Walter’s son, George, and built by GDC Construction. An annual Memorial Day celebration is held in the shadow of the cross every May.

In 1976, Walter’s son George joined the business, carrying it into the 21st century. Previous to the union with GDC, George heeded President Kennedy’s call and joined the Peace Corps in 1962. Subsequently, George completed his MBA at renowned Thunderbird University before returning to La Jolla where he assumed the reins of the family business.

George’s continuous dedication to remain true to the Dewhurst reputation for quality and craftsmanship is observed with the many homes he and his group have constructed. Additionally, he continued the family tradition in business, sport and civic commitment. Stirred by his visit to the National War Memorial in Washington, D.C., George conceived and then built the Mount Soledad War Memorial. This is a local testament to the brave men and women who have served the nation with honor.

George led an effort to modernize the YMCA La Jolla Firehouse in the historic district as a center for youths in 1984. Furthermore, as the La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club president, George planted the seed for many of La Jolla traditions that continue to this day.

In 2001, Pancho Dewhurst joined GDC construction to carry on the institution of constructing quality custom homes in La Jolla and throughout greater San Diego County. Influenced by the modernists and his studies in Italy, Pancho made his mark in the family business. In 2008, he assumed the leadership at GDC Construction. Pancho and his father are the 3rd and 4th generation of Dewhurst builders in La Jolla.

“Being in the construction business for four generations, we have developed a considerably strong group of sub-contractors and associates that we work with on a daily basis” said Pancho. “I am very privileged to have such a vigorous and robust group of individuals. Some of these people have worked alongside with my grandfather and father. It’s been a significantly huge boost to GDC Construction.”

The renovation of the Community Center epitomizes Pancho’s contribution to the La Jolla community as well as the unrelenting commitment to dedication by the Dewhurst family to the local community.

“In addition to building beautiful homes in the San Diego area, what I’m really truly most proud of is all of the effort that my family has extended to give back to the La Jolla community.”

From building Fire Station 13 to the La Jolla Community Center, the Dewhurst family has been an essential part to what the community of La Jolla is today.

The Dewhurst family and GDC Construction also go out of their way to bring Christmas blessings and cheer every year to San Diego residents. Additionally, they have sustained one of the oldest and most esteemed traditions in La Jolla, that is, decorating and lighting the tree at the La Jolla Recreation Center each and every holiday season. The custom was initiated in 1984 while George Dewhurst was serving as Chairman of the Christmas Parade, as well as President of the Rotary Club.

The Dewhurst collaboration with the La Jolla community continues with GDC’s contribution to the La Jolla Christmas Parade each and every year. Walter Dewhurst, who was named President of the La Jolla Town Council in 1965, initiated the very first La Jolla Christmas Parade in the 1950s together with the Council. Thereafter, he was present at every parade and became known as the “Mayor of La Jolla” because of his all-encompassing patronage and support for the La Jolla community.

When Walter initiated the parade in 1960, it served to bring the village together in a new way during the Christmas and holiday season, and today it remains one of La Jolla’s most beloved customs. The annual parade attracts participants and visitors from all over San Diego as well as outside the county.

GDC Construction participates in the parade every year. One of the trucks is actually converted into a festive float to the delight of onlookers. Pancho Dewhurst and his family ride alongside much like his grandfather did well over a half-century previous.

“My philosophy is not about just building custom homes; it concerns building long-term relationships within the La Jolla community. This concept was taught to me early on by my family. As a four generation builder, I have a great commitment and great pride in being afforded the opportunity to give back to the La Jolla community.”

Pancho has two Children, Ava and Austin, who are the fifth generation of Dewhurst’s in La Jolla. I believe we can speak on behalf of everyone in La Jolla in saying that we hope the family tradition continues for many more years to innovate and shape La Jolla.

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