One of La Jolla’s most beloved icons will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary on July 25th; the La Jolla Rec Center, commissioned by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps and constructed by master architect Irving Gill (whose remarkable influence can be seen throughout the city), was completed in the summer of 1915 as a community hub when La Jolla was still in the early parts of its transformation.
In 1910, Gill was one of San Diego’s most prevalent architects and is now considered an early pioneer of the modern movement. Backed by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Gill began working on several buildings throughout the Village that would later become community icons: the first building on the Scripps Institute of Oceanography campus, the La Jolla Women’s Club, The Bishop’s School, and of course, the La Jolla Rec Center.
The center was completed and dedicated in the summer of 1915, and Scripps donated it to the City of San Diego the same year. By 1973, it was designated as San Diego Historic Landmark #86. The facility was originally called the Children’s Playground and Recreation Center and included a children’s play area. Scripps insisted that the building be open to any person, regardless of “race, creed or opinions,” lending the space a comfortable and accepting atmosphere even then. The first recreation director, Archibald Talbot, was hired in 1919, and it was he and his wife Agnes who developed some of the center’s first intensive sports programs, especially tennis and baseball.
To prepare for the big anniversary, the Center will be undergoing a few upgrades. There are three cosmetic projects in the works: the outside of the building (which is currently a pink seashell color) will be painted a shade closer to its original color, a sandy beige/off-white; the bushes that line the front entrance will be replaced with new plants; and finally, the 100-year old plaques on the north-facing side that pay tribute to key points in the center’s history (such as the opening day), will be refurbished and an additional one installed that commemorates the centennial.
The La Jolla Rec Center will officially celebrate its 100 years on July 25, 2015 with a commemorative celebration. The ceremony will be held at the La Jolla Rec Center (615 Prospect Street) from 12pm-4pm, and there will be several family-friendly activities including BBQ, pony rides, arts and crafts, bounce house, face painters, puppet show, gymnastics and dance shows. A ceremony with keynote speakers will kickoff the celebration.
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