House of Hospitality courtyard garden replanted!

Some say the House of Hospitality is the heart of Balboa Park. I can understand why. Visitors who pass through the courtyard colonnade might feel they’ve wandered into a beautiful dream.

The House of Hospitality’s fantastic architecture, interior garden and iconic sculpture by Donal Hord appear like a painting of paradise. An eternal canvas into which the living step–if only for a moment.

With the recent refreshing of the historic garden’s four corner planters, the Spanish Colonial courtyard is more alive and welcoming than ever.

Originally created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the House of Hospitality was rebuilt by architect Richard Requa for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. In 1997 the building was recreated as accurately as possible from historical documents.

Before sunset today I walked about the courtyard, read a sign which described the garden’s revitalization, then climbed stairs to the second floor balcony.

Sunlight was slanting into the outdoor courtyard, turning many of its trees and plants bright green. And high above it all, up in the blue sky, shined that eternally amazing tower…

Sign explains how aging plants in the House of Hospitality's courtyard garden were replanted and refreshed, with the help of Urban Corps of San Diego.
Sign explains how aging plants in the House of Hospitality’s courtyard garden were replanted and refreshed, with the help of Urban Corps of San Diego.

At the center of the House of Hospitality courtyard is Woman of Tehuantepec, a 1935 sculpture and fountain by Donal Hord.
At the center of the House of Hospitality’s courtyard is Woman of Tehuantepec, a 1935 sculpture and fountain by Donal Hord.

In one of the four planters is a time capsule placed on September 13, 1997, to be opened May 29, 2035, the centennial of the California Pacific International Exposition.
In one of the four planters is a time capsule placed on September 13, 1997, to be opened May 29, 2035, the centennial of the California Pacific International Exposition.

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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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!

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!

Beautiful photos outside the Balboa Park Club.

Cacti in front of the Balboa Park Club. The building was created in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition to showcase the state of New Mexico.
Cacti in front of the Balboa Park Club. The building was created in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition to showcase the state of New Mexico.

Last Sunday, during my walk through the Palisades area of the park, I circled the Balboa Park Club searching for interesting photos. The earthy, very distinctive Pueblo Revival architecture of this building contrasts beautifully with the green plants that surround it.

The Balboa Park Club is located in the park's Palisades area. The building was enlarged and remodeled for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
The Balboa Park Club is located in the park’s Palisades area. The building was enlarged and remodeled for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
Once called the New Mexico State Building, the architecture is in the attractive, very distinctive Pueblo Revival style.
Once called the New Mexico State Building, the architecture is in the eye-pleasing Pueblo Revival style.
Leafy green against earthy colors and textures.
Green leaves and shadows against earthy colors and textures.
Behind the Balboa Park Club is the 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden.
Behind the Balboa Park Club is the 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden.
White flowers beside the Balboa Park Club.
White flowers contrasted with the Balboa Park Club’s rain-streaked exterior.
Looking upward at one corner of the Pueblo Revival-style building.
Looking upward at one corner of the Pueblo Revival-style building. Ornamental wooden beam “vigas” project outward and cast slanting shadows.
A beautiful sight in Balboa Park.
A beautiful taste of the American Southwest 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!

Faces sing, play pipes at Spreckels Organ Pavilion!

Two young faces sing together on Balboa Park's outdoor Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The ornamentation is composed of plaster of Paris mixed with coir fiber.
Two youth sing together. ┬áDecoration on Balboa Park’s outdoor Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The faces are composed of plaster of Paris mixed with coir fiber.

Like many of the buildings created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is decorated lavishly with unique plaster ornamentation. The impressive structure with its sweeping, semi-circular colonnade, designed by Harrison Albright in the Italian-Renaissance style, contains many sculptural figures and motifs, including human faces.

The other day I took a close look at the organ pavilion building and its colonnade. I noticed a number of different faces singing or playing pipes. Here they are!

The organ isn't playing and the benches are empty, but many still wander into the historic pavilion to marvel at its unique beauty.
The organ isn’t playing and the benches are empty, but many still wander into the historic pavilion to marvel at its unique beauty.
An exotic face made of plaster for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park appears to be singing.
An exotic face made of plaster for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park appears to be singing.
A youthful musician plays the pipes. Many figures made of plaster decorate the pavilion which is home to the majestic Spreckels pipe organ in Balboa Park.
A youthful musician plays the pipes. Many beautiful figures made of plaster decorate the pavilion which is home to the majestic Spreckels pipe organ in Balboa Park.
A cherub sings inside the pavilion's colonnade.
A cherub sings inside the pavilion’s colonnade.
Perhaps this is Pan playing the pipes--or just an ordinary person who loves making music.
Perhaps this is the Greek god Pan playing his pipes–or just an ordinary person who loves making music.

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!

Watch a really great video about Balboa Park!

I love this 30 minute DVD about Balboa Park. It's available exclusively at the San Diego History Center in the park's Casa de Balboa.
I love this 30 minute DVD about Balboa Park. It’s available exclusively at the San Diego History Center in the park’s Casa de Balboa.

A couple weekends ago I watched a really good 30 minute film about Balboa Park in the San Diego History Center’s auditorium. It made me realize just how much I love this amazing place.

The film, which is titled Balboa Park: The Jewel of San Diego, describes the history of the park–from its creation to the present day. It’s loaded with great images and information, and is just plain fun to watch. And the soundtrack is infectious. Not stuffy at all!

When I told a friendly person working at the front desk that the film almost brought me to tears, she said the same emotion was felt when the staff first viewed it. The love for Balboa Park is that deep. Then I learned I could buy the video DVD in their gift shop. Which I did!

I recommend a purchase of this DVD. It’s a fine way to support a really important San Diego institution that works to preserve our city’s history. Originally called the San Diego Historical Society, the nonprofit organization also operates another museum near Old Town–that towering building atop historic Presidio Hill: the Junipero Serra Museum. I wrote about that beautiful and impressive museum here on my main blog Cool San Diego Sights.

I was told the DVD is available exclusively in Balboa Park, at the San Diego History Center gift shop.

You can also watch the film on YouTube here!

Tell a friend!

Restoration of Cabrillo Bridge lamps completed!

A brand new street lamp graces the top of Cabrillo Bridge. The California Tower rises in the background.
A newly restored street lamp graces the top of Cabrillo Bridge. The California Tower rises in the background.

A project to restore the 30 light standards atop the Cabrillo Bridge has been completed in late 2016! I took photos before, during, and after the historic street lamps, installed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park, were restored to their original condition.

Sign shows the Balboa Park Cabrillo Bridge Historic Light Standards Restoration Project. It was completed in late 2016.
Sign shows the Balboa Park Cabrillo Bridge Historic Light Standards Restoration Project. It was completed in late 2016.
One of the old rusty light poles atop Cabrillo Bridge (originally installed in 1914 during the bridge's construction) before replacement in 2016.
One of the old rusty light poles atop Cabrillo Bridge (originally installed in 1914 during the bridge’s construction) before restoration in 2016.
View of the historic 1915 Cabrillo Bridge from the old cactus garden behind the Balboa Park Club.
View of the historic 1915 Cabrillo Bridge from the old cactus garden behind the Balboa Park Club.
Plaque commemorates the Cabrillo Bridge, completed 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition. It's a San Diego Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Plaque commemorates the Cabrillo Bridge, completed in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition. It’s a San Diego Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Another nearby restoration project has also been completed--the two guardhouses on El Prado at the west end of the Cabrillo Bridge.
Another nearby restoration project has also been completed–the two guardhouses on El Prado at the west end of the Cabrillo Bridge.
Photo shows both new and old light poles on the Cabrillo Bridge. The new poles werre painted to match their color during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
Photo shows both new and old light poles on the Cabrillo Bridge. The restored poles were painted to match their color during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.
Photo of old rusty light standard and glass globes before replacement. 30 poles have been restored.
Photo of old rusty light standard, and the glass globes before their replacement. 30 poles have been restored.
This ornate base of an original light pole atop Cabrillo Bridge was over 100 years old.
This ornate base of an original light pole atop Cabrillo Bridge was over 100 years old.
This base was so rusted out, much of it was missing.
This base was so rusted out, much of it was missing.
Photo of base of light pole after replacement in 2016.
Photo shows base of light pole after its careful restoration in 2016.
New lights illuminate the top of Cabrillo Bridge in beautiful Balboa Park!
New lights illuminate the top of Cabrillo Bridge in beautiful 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!