Balboa Park artwork near Santa Fe Depot.

Tile mosaic artwork in downtown San Diego near the Santa Fe Depot depicts Balboa Park's iconic California Building and Kate Sessions.
Tile mosaic artwork in downtown San Diego near the Santa Fe Depot depicts Balboa Park’s iconic California Building and Kate Sessions.

The Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego was built to welcome visitors arriving by train for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. So it’s appropriate that public art near the historic depot contains several historical representations of Balboa Park.

The tile artwork, titled The Tracks We Leave Behind, is a visual timeline of San Diego’s history. The beautiful mosaics were created by Betsy K. Schulz in 2008.

I’ve posted more photos of these amazing mosaics on my Cool San Diego Sights website here and here.

Bea Evenson, founder of The Committee of 100, at Casa del Prado 1971.
Bea Evenson, founder of The Committee of 100, at Casa del Prado in 1971.
First Emperor Penguin born in captivity at the San Diego Zoo.
First Emperor Penguin born in captivity at the San Diego Zoo.
Harry Wegeforth, founder of the San Diego Zoo, doffs his hat while riding an elephant.
Harry Wegeforth, founder of the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, doffs his hat while riding an elephant.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

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Historic tree, plaque removed from Balboa Park.

A historic tree that once stood at the center of Balboa Park's International Cottages has been cut down.
A historic tree that once stood at the center of Balboa Park’s International Cottages has been cut down.

I’m sure there must have been a good reason for the tree’s removal. Perhaps it had become unsafe.

According to a bronze plaque, the tree was planted near the center of Balboa Park’s International Cottages in 1932. The tree was dedicated in honor of Arthur E. Vest, Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. That historic plaque is now gone, too.

Perhaps someone reading this knows the complete story. If you do, please leave a comment.

I’ve been told by several people from the cottages that one day, a few months ago, a crew from San Diego Parks and Recreation simply cut the big shady tree down. One person that I spoke to today couldn’t provide a specific reason, but thought the tree’s removal had been carefully considered. I do hope so.

Now the tree and its plaque are gone. Just an image in some old photographs . . . or a slowly fading memory . . .

A photo of the old shady tree as it once lived in Balboa Park. It was removed one day and now it's gone.
A photo of the shady tree as it once lived in Balboa Park. It was removed one fateful day and now it’s gone.
Someone stands on the stump of the tree during a lawn program at the International Cottages.
Someone stands on the stump of the tree during a recent lawn program at the International Cottages.
Shortly after the tree was cut down, the plaque still remained.
Shortly after the tree was cut down, the plaque still remained.
Dedicated in Honor of Arthur E. Vest, Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, by the Womans Relief Corps Department of California and Nevada, May 16, 1932.
Dedicated in Honor of Arthur E. Vest, Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, by the Woman’s Relief Corps Department of California and Nevada, May 16, 1932.
And now the plaque is gone, too. A bit of history vanishes.
And now the plaque and its words have been removed, too. A bit of San Diego history is gone.

I live in downtown San Diego. I do my best to keep my eyes wide open as I walk.

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Fine art at the San Diego History Center.

The San Diego History Center in Balboa Park has a fine art collection of more than 1700 works. They represent the visual culture of our region.
The San Diego History Center in Balboa Park has a fine art collection of more than 1700 works. They represent the visual culture of our region.

The San Diego History Center, originally the San Diego Historical Society, has been an important custodian of our region’s history since the organization’s founding in 1928 by civic leader George W. Marston. Their preserved documents, photographs and artifacts trace the development of San Diego from a small town in the desert-like wilderness to a modern, thriving Southern California metropolis.

Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park might be surprised when they enter one of the museum galleries to discover pieces from their Fine Art Collection. The current exhibition is titled Exquisite Views. Amazing canvases on three walls represent over 1700 pieces of fine art, many of which were donated by San Diego residents. Notable artists in the large collection include James Hubbell, Maurice Braun, Alfred Mitchell, Charles Fries, Belle Baranceanu, Charles Reiffel, Alice Klauber and Donal Hord.

There are two gigantic, amazing murals by Charles Reiffel on the walls of the museum nearby. And two more above stairs inside the Casa de Balboa. I posted photos of them here and here.

Like many cultural institutions who need support from the public, the San Diego History Center welcomes any contributions. Admission to their museum in the Casa de Balboa is free, but I’m always careful to leave a donation when I visit. Many of their fine art pieces are also up for “adoption” by art lovers. Contact them if you are interested.

The Family of Joseph W. Sefton, Sr., ca. 1890, oil on canvas, by artist Alden Finney Brooks.
The Family of Joseph W. Sefton, Sr., ca. 1890, oil on canvas, by artist Alden Finney Brooks.
By the Sea, 1940, oil on board, by artist Dan Dickey.
By the Sea, 1940, oil on board, by artist Dan Dickey.
La Cumbre Peak, Santa Barbara 1918-1920, oil on canvas, by artist Charles A. Fries.
La Cumbre Peak, Santa Barbara 1918-1920, oil on canvas, by artist Charles A. Fries.
Torrey Pines - Spring, 1997, watercolor on paper, by artist James Hubbell.
Torrey Pines – Spring, 1997, watercolor on paper, by artist James Hubbell.
Untitled Landscape (Mission Bay Causeway Bridge), ca. 1930, oil on canvas, by artist Alice Klauber.
Untitled Landscape (Mission Bay Causeway Bridge), ca. 1930, oil on canvas, by artist Alice Klauber.
Eileen, ca. 1939, oil on canvas, by artist Margaret (Margot) King Rocle.
Eileen, ca. 1939, oil on canvas, by artist Margaret (Margot) King Rocle.
Girl with a Fawn, 1935, charcoal and colored chalk, by artist Belle Baranceanu.
Girl with a Fawn, 1935, charcoal and colored chalk, by artist Belle Baranceanu.
1935 photograph from the Union-Tribune Collection shows Belle Baranceanu painting the mural Girl with a Fawn on the east side of the Fine Arts Gallery, today's San Diego Museum of Art.
This 1935 photograph from the Union-Tribune Collection shows Belle Baranceanu painting the mural Girl with a Fawn on the east side of the Fine Arts Gallery, today’s San Diego Museum of Art.
Ramona Morning, 2013, oil on linen, by artist Carol Lindemulder.
Ramona Morning, 2013, oil on linen, by artist Carol Lindemulder.
The San Diego History Center seeks to acquire new works. Their Art for the Next Century Initiative will expand their collection of historical artwork.
The San Diego History Center seeks to acquire new works. Their Art for the Next Century Initiative will expand their collection of historical artwork.
Sycamores at Springtime, 1937, oil on board, by artist Charles A. Reiffel.
Sycamores at Springtime, 1937, oil on board, by artist Charles A. Reiffel.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

A visit inside the House of Scotland’s cottage.

People visit the House of Scotland's cottage in Balboa Park.
People visit the House of Scotland’s picturesque cottage in Balboa Park.

When I walk in Balboa Park, I usually pass through the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. Inside these quaint cottages, the cultures of diverse nations are proudly on display, and world history comes to life. There is much for visitors to learn and discover.

At the International Cottages, “Houses” representing different nations all coexist peacefully. If only the world could be that way.

Recently I poked my nose into the cottage operated by the House of Scotland. Scottish culture and history have always fascinated me.

I took a few photos…

A plaque by the cottage's flagpole reads: In Memory of L/CPL Kenneth J. Haywood U.S.M.C. 1943 - 1965 Member of The House of Scotland House of Pacific Relations
A plaque by the cottage’s flagpole reads: In Memory of L/CPL Kenneth J. Haywood U.S.M.C. 1943 – 1965 Member of The House of Scotland House of Pacific Relations.
Inside the House of Scotland cottage there are fascinating photographs, artifacts and cultural displays.
Inside the House of Scotland’s small cottage there are fascinating photographs, artifacts and cultural displays.
A doll wearing a Scottish kilt, and a certificate that commemorates the 2010 San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans. The annual event takes place in Vista.
A doll wearing a Scottish kilt, and a certificate that commemorates the 2010 San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans. The annual event takes place in Brengle Terrace Park in Vista.
Bagpipes and a badge worn by a drummer of the House of Scotland Junior Pipe Band.
Bagpipes and a badge worn by a drummer of the House of Scotland Junior Pipe Band. The House of Scotland Pipe Band is well known in San Diego and performs many rousing concerts.
Diagram shows the costume of the widely recognized Dewar’s Scotch Highlander, including bonnet, gold sash, kilt, plaid, drum major’s baton and sword.
Diagram shows the costume of the widely recognized Dewar’s Scotch Highlander, including bonnet, gold sash, kilt, plaid, drum major’s baton and sword.
All sorts of interesting items on display in the cottage provide a small taste of Scotland in San Diego.
All sorts of interesting items on display inside the cottage provide a small taste of Scotland.
Many famous verses by the national poet of Scotland Robert Burns.
Famous verses by the national poet of Scotland Robert Burns.
An article describes tossing the caber at Highland Games. The origins of this unusual event is unknown. A heavy pole is flipped, with the aim that it lands straight.
An article describes tossing the caber at Highland Games. The exact origin of this unusual event is uncertain. A heavy pole is flipped, with the aim that it lands straight.
The coat of arms of two different clans. Scotland comes to life inside one of the International Cottages in Balboa Park.
The coat of arms of two different clans. Scotland comes to life inside one of the International Cottages in Balboa Park.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Paintings in Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room.

Botanical Building, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Botanical Building, Leigh Cohn, 2014.

Last year I went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the House of Hospitality that included a look inside the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room. There was a whole lot to see, and only a few minutes to snap photos.

I did manage to frame with my camera several paintings in the boardroom. They were painted by Leigh Cohn in 2014 for the Balboa Park Centennial. My quick photos provide an imperfect glimpse of the colorful artwork.

I’m not sure what the decorative object is on the small wooden table. I can find nothing about it on the internet. My hunch is it was used atop the old Balboa Park Community Christmas Tree, before the tree became too old and fragile to support ornaments. Just my guess–probably wrong! Please leave a comment if you know something!

If you ever have the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour through the House of Hospitality, I definitely recommend it! There are a variety of beautiful rooms in the building that are usually inaccessible to the public. For those interested in Balboa Park’s history, the tour is a must!

Visitors to Balboa Park enjoy a tour of the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room in the House of Hospitality.
Visitors to Balboa Park enjoy a tour of the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room in the House of Hospitality.
David Kinney, a Balboa Park Conservancy Board Member, provides a special tour of the board room, in the House of Hospitality.
David Kinney, a Balboa Park Conservancy Board Member, provides a special tour of their boardroom in the House of Hospitality.
Artwork in the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room includes the fascinating piece on a small wooden table. Topped by a cross, rays of colored glass extend outward.
Artwork in the Balboa Park Conservancy Board Room includes a fascinating piece on a small wooden table.
Topped by a cross, rays of colored glass extend outward from what appears to be brasswork.
Topped by a cross, rays of colored glass extend outward from what appears to be weathered brasswork.
Before the Park Opens, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Before the Park Opens, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Tower, Globe and Fountain, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Tower, Globe and Fountain, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Lily Pond Facing South, Leigh Cohn, 2014.
Lily Pond Facing South, Leigh Cohn, 2014.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

The faces of the Panama-California Sculpture Court.

Anglo-Saxon Queen, 1914. Staff plaster original statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Anglo-Saxon Queen, 1914. Staff plaster original statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.

Visitors walking through the Panama-California Sculpture Court in the Casa del Prado are greeted by many unexpected faces–faces that peer out of San Diego’s past.

The sculptures in the building’s courtyard were used in various ways to decorate the facades of buildings in Balboa Park during its colorful history. Most of the pieces are made of staff, which is a type of plaster reinforced with fibers. The artwork in the Panama-California Sculpture Court was rescued in 1975, found abandoned in a corner of the Casa de Balboa.

Please read the photo captions for information about each piece.

One of several fantastic pieces of rescued art in the Panama-California Sculpture Court at the Casa del Prado.
One of several fantastic pieces of rescued art in the Panama-California Sculpture Court at the Casa del Prado.
Religion, 1914. Original staff plaster statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Religion, 1914. Original staff plaster statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Mission Indian Head Pilaster, 1914. Staff plaster original from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Mission Indian Head Pilaster, 1914. Staff plaster original from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Spanish Conquistador, 1914. Staff plaster original vignette from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Spanish Conquistador, 1914. Staff plaster original vignette from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Grotesque Mask, 1914. Original staff plaster statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Grotesque Mask, 1914. Original staff plaster statue from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Angel Head Pilaster, 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Angel Head Pilaster, 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Varied Industries Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Junipero Serra Memorial, 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Food Products Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Junipero Serra Memorial, 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Food Products Building. Henry R. Schmohl, modeler.
Angel Head Finial, 1971. Unused cast concrete replica of 1914 original, for the reconstruction of the building now known as the Casa del Prado. Christian Mueller, Jr., modeler.
Angel Head Finial, 1971. Unused cast concrete replica of 1914 original, for the reconstruction of the building now known as the Casa del Prado. Christian Mueller, Jr., modeler.
Velazquez, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Velazquez, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Murillo, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Murillo, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Zurbaran, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Zurbaran, 1925. Original reinforced plaster-of-Paris casting model for the portrait sculptures above the entrance of what now called the San Diego Museum of Art. Designed by William Templeton Johnson.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Dance and culture by the House of Spain.

Flamenco dancing during the House of Spain lawn program in Balboa Park.
Flamenco dancing during the House of Spain’s lawn program in Balboa Park.

Today the House of Spain in Balboa Park hosted the lawn program at the International Cottages. The cultural event featured music, folk dancing, tasty food and many welcoming smiles. Flamenco dancers strutted and whirled on the stage, adding life to an already wonderful day in the park.

Here are some photos…

Getting a big pan of tasty paella ready. I had some and it was really good.
A big pan of tasty paella. I had some and it was really good.
Many flowers and interesting exhibits can be seen inside the House of Spain's cottage.
Many flowers and interesting exhibits can be seen inside the House of Spain’s cottage.
A model of a Spanish galleon, very much like the one Cabrillo sailed in when he discovered San Diego Bay in 1542.
A model of a Spanish galleon, much like the one Cabrillo sailed in when he discovered San Diego Bay in 1542.
Art on the wall shows a bird's-eye view of Fort Guijarros. The old Spanish fort was built in 1797 on Ballast Point where it guarded San Diego Bay.
Art on the wall shows a bird’s-eye view of Fort Guijarros. The old Spanish fort was built in 1797 on Ballast Point where it guarded San Diego Bay.
Beautiful ceramic artwork on display inside the House of Spain's cottage in Balboa Park.
Beautiful ceramic artwork on display inside the House of Spain’s cottage in Balboa Park.
The featured entertainment during the cultural event was Spanish folk dancing.
The featured entertainment during the cultural event was Spanish folk dancing.
A dance of fuego--fire. This powerful, very expressive dance mesmerized those watching in the audience.
A dance of fuego–fire. This powerful, very expressive dance mesmerized those watching in the audience.
Fluidity and passion.
Fluidity and passion.
A colorful whirl of life.
A colorful whirl of life.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!