2002 - Volume 33, Issue 1
Getting to Know Your San Diego
By Allen Hazard
As a student at San Diego State University in the 1970's and early 80's, I always enjoyed exploring the "older" parts of my campus in between classes, checking out the "Women's Gym", the casual Scripps Cottage on a Friday afternoon, the surreal palms surrounding the quad area behind Life Science, gazing at Hardy Tower on a sunny afternoon and enjoying the hourly bells ringing. I took classes at Henna Hall and saw the occasional film in the cozy Little Theatre with bold exposed wood beams above. As a history major I knew that there was an association between the depression era W.P.A. and several buildings as well as Aztec Bowl on campus. I remember taking a photograph years ago of my college girlfriend beside the 1937 Monty statue by Donal Hord.
If you're like me, and grew up in San Diego, you've noticed such pleasant places around town, the influence of Spanish-revival architecture, Irving Gill's La Jolla masterpieces. Maybe you absorbed some local history in school, visited Old Town and wondered about the Whaley House, or wandered around Balboa Park and tried to envision it in 1915 at the Pan-Pacific Exposition. I attended elementary school in National City across the street from the old Stein Farm and grew up with Victorians. I had a Sweetwater class reunion in Gill's Granger Music Hall and thought how cool these older homes were. Years later, my wife and I joined SOHO and became hooked on learning more about our unique sites in San Diego, our historical past, the Arts & Crafts movement. What happened in Point Loma 100 years ago? Who really was George Derby? We acquired a taste of knowledge and a yearning to know more about the place we call home.
Last summer, I was asked by a professor friend in the Exercise Science Department to assist with a project on campus. I have returned occasionally through the years to see a concert at the Open Air Theatre, but hadn't really walked around my alma mater for years. While poking around and re-introducing myself to old friends, I was impressed with how enchanting the 1930-34 Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style really was. I thought about others like me. How many people attended SDSU or have visited the campus and enjoyed its old buildings?
I discovered a wonderful book by Dr. Raymond Starr (Professor of History SDSU) called San Diego State University, a History in Word and Image, and it got me to thinking, and so I suggested a tour of the original Montezuma Mesa buildings to the SOHO Events and Education Committee. The committee said, "Hey great! Let's expand that and design a series of tour events to introduce people to sites they may not know about and reintroduce these sites to those who see them but don't know them.
And so, starting this fall, SOHO will present a series of tours that you are sure to enjoy. Entitled Getting To Know Your San Diego, an entertaining and educational glimpse into historic neighborhoods. Stay tuned for details.
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