Category Archives: Architecture

Opinion—If I have to use it….

Opinion

Many decades ago in Tomball, Texas, I helped my uncle build a beautiful brick mailbox to match his brick house. A month later he called to tell me that the homeowners’ association told him that he would have to remove it and put a stick mailbox in its place to match all the other stick mailboxes in his rural subdivision. He was furious. I had no monkey in the circus but his experience did convince me that I would never live in a community that had an HOA.

I have plenty of HOA horror stories from my years in real estate….

Along with homeowners’ associations telling you what you can and cannot do to a property you own, sometimes the city gets involved, too, most of the time concerning zoning ordinances. No one wants to buy a beautiful home only to have a brothel built next door….

One of the different ways that the city can get involved is with historic properties. Here in San Diego County, if you buy a historic property and agree to keep it historic, you get a pretty good tax break. With real estate prices being so astronomical, a tax break on property taxes can be significant.

Recently, over in Coronado, the City of Coronado got upset at the owner of a historic property because she had replaced the old windows with modern dual-pane windows. The house currently looks like this:

Historic home in Coronado CA

Notice the windows. That white bar at the bottom of each window is the old, wooden window apron, usually indicating that the home had wooden windows at one point.

Aluminum window on an old historic home in Coronado CA

Now they are aluminum windows. The city is upset because the aluminum windows just don’t match the architecture of the home. Perhaps if she had installed white aluminum windows….

Actually, one can get aluminum windows that look like wood, but they are custom windows, so they are quite a bit more expensive than standard aluminum windows. The City has given her options but she’s still not happy because all of the options require her to remove these windows, which already have been installed and paid for….

Although the property tax breaks can be significant, I’m pretty much a modern guy when it comes to using things, so you’ll never find me buying something historic. If I have to use it rather than just admiring it, I own the latest and the greatest….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Advertisements

A post-modern triumph or a regrettable hodgepodge?

Opinion

My husband earns money each day by working at Warwick’s at the San Diego International Airport. Warwick’s is a bookstore. Occasionally he brings home free books for me to read. Recently he brought home a pre-published proof of the new Dean Koontz book, “The Silent Corner.”

Koontz and his wife live in “Southern California.” In other words, he doesn’t want us to know exactly where, but I suspect it might be closer to San Diego than Los Angeles since the book takes place in San Diego County—Alpine, San Diego, and La Jolla, so far (I’m on page 74).

On page 33, Koontz calls our new San Diego Central Library (opened in September 2013) “a post-modern triumph or a regrettable hodgepodge.” That’s the first time I have ever heard of the new library being called anything except “beautiful” and synonyms for “beautiful.” Thus, I have to presume that Koontz considers it a regrettable hodgepodge.

Here are some pictures of the regrettable hodgepodge:

San Diego Central Library stamp

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on March 23, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on March 23, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on February 2, 2013

Price Reading Room at the San Diego Central Library

Lobby of the new San Diego Central Library

The Central Library building is 9 floors, but the sixth and seventh floors are accessible only to students, teachers, and others affiliated with E3 Civic High School, which according to sources is the only high school in the nation (probably the world) housed within a library. Imagine going to high school in a magnificent library. I want to live my life again….

The library cost $184.9 million, comprises 366,673 square feet, houses 2.6 million items, has a circulation of 7.2 million, and 6.6 million visitors each year. There is free WiFi at the Central Library and all 35 branch libraries; in fact, the San Diego Public Library was one of the first in the nation to provide free WiFi at all locations. It also houses the second largest collection of baseball memorabilia in the United States. The dome on top is claimed to be the fourth largest in America and the sixth largest in the world.

Here’s a picture of the old library which served from 1954 to 2013:

Old San Diego Central Library on August 13, 2012

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—This church, that church, and God’s Garage

Out & About San Diego

Back in 1966 or so my great grandfather died. He was buried in the Catholic Church in San Antonio in which he had been born, baptized, first communionized, married, and attended for 50 years. All was well.

Three years later, my great grandmother died. The family thought that she would be buried in the same church as her husband.

Nope.

During those ensuing three years, the Catholic Church had redrawn its dioceses, and it turned out that my great grandmother now lived in a different diocese. Interestingly, the new church for the new diocese had been built right across the street. So even though my great grandmother probably knew that she had been placed in a new diocese, she kept attending the same church she had been going to for 50+ years. All was not well.

I think that’s when I realized that manmade religions really weren’t for me.

Back in 1994 I was working in Detroit and decided one day to walk Grand River Avenue from Washington Boulevard to West Eight Mile Road, which was close to the office. I had been told that it was called Eight Mile Road because it was eight miles from downtown. That was an alternative fact spouted well before alternative facts became popular. On almost every intersection, four corners, were four churches. Usually they were different denominations but occasionally they were the same—two Catholic churches, or two Presbyterian churches. I understood because of what had happened to my great grandmother 25+ years earlier.

While I will always question whether or not an all-powerful, all-knowing god requires these monstrous cathedrals be built to worship him (or her), I do appreciate their architecture. When I was in Pacific Beach a while back looking for the library, I came across two huge churches right next to each other: St. Brigid Parish Catholic Church and Christ Lutheran Church.

St. Brigid Parish Catholic ChurchSt. Brigid Parish Catholic Church

St. Brigid Parish Catholic Church, Pacific Beach, San Diego, California

St. Brigid Parish Catholic Church, Pacific Beach, San Diego, California

Even though I grew up in the Catholic Church, did the CYO thing, went to Catholic School and Sunday School, I have never heard of St. Brigid. Wikipedia to the rescue!

Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland (c. 451 – 525) is one of Ireland’s patron saints. Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and foundress of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland. Her feast day is February 1, which was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring.

The saint shares her name with an important Celtic goddess, and there are many legends and folk customs associated with her. Some scholars suggest that the saint is merely a Christianization of the goddess. Others suggest that she was a real person who took on the goddess’s attributes. Medieval Art Historian Pamela Berger argues that Christian “monks took the ancient figure of the mother goddess and grafted her name and functions onto her Christian counterpart.” Professor Dáithí Ó hÓgáin and others suggest that the saint had been chief druidess at the temple of the goddess Brigid, and was responsible for converting it into a Christian monastery. After her death, the name and characteristics of the goddess became attached to the saint.

Well, there ya go. Once again I learned absolutely nothing that could make my life better. So let’s move on to Christ Lutheran Church, founded in 1954 as Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pacific Beach, San Diego

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pacific Beach, San Diego

I’m familiar with Lutherans and Christ but I wondered why Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church seems to have dropped the Evangelical from its name. So I went to Wikipedia again to see just who these Evangelicals are and why they had been banished from their own church.

Evangelicalism, Evangelical Christianity, or Evangelical Protestantism is a worldwide, transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or the “born again” experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.

Its origins are usually traced back to English Methodism, the Moravian Church (in particular theology of its bishop Nicolaus Zinzendorf and his community at Herrnhut), and German Lutheran Pietism. While all these phenomena contributed greatly, John Wesley and other early Methodists were at the root of sparking this new movement during the First Great Awakening. Today, Evangelicals are found across many Protestant branches, as well as in various denominations not subsumed to a specific branch. The movement gained great momentum during the 18th and 19th centuries with the Great Awakenings in the United Kingdom and North America.

The Americas, Africa, and Asia are home to the majority of Evangelicals. United States has the largest concentration of Evangelicals in the world; its community forms a quarter of the population, is politically important and based mostly in the Bible Belt. In the United Kingdom, Evangelicals are mostly represented in the Methodist Church, Baptist communities and among low church Anglicans.

Alas, I’m not having much success on this last Sunday in February for again I have learned absolutely nothing that could make my life better.

My wise old grandmother taught me to add laughter to each day, so I shall end with some laughter. Just north of these two churches was God’s Garage:

God's Garage, Pacific Beach, San Diego, California

Now that’s funny.

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—They had cats!

Out & About San Diego

I delivered packages for Amazon Prime Now from October 2015 to August 2016. During that time, most of the orders to be delivered were just a few of sacks of groceries. One day, though, I only had one order, but the complete order of over twenty sacks filled the trunk and the interior of my car to capacity. Everything was going to what I now know is a Buddhist temple. Looked like this:

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

The temple actually was split in two with the other half being located a block away:

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

I know absolutely nothing at all about Buddhism so I went to Wikipedia for help.

Buddhism is a religion and dharma that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on teachings attributed to the Buddha. Buddhism originated in India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, from where it spread through much of Asia, whereafter it declined in India during the middle ages. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada (Pali: “The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (Sanskrit: “The Great Vehicle”). Buddhism is the world’s fourth-largest religion, with over 500 million followers or 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.

Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. Practices of Buddhism include taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, study of scriptures, observance of moral precepts, renunciation of craving and attachment, the practice of meditation (including calm and insight), the cultivation of wisdom, loving-kindness and compassion, the Mahayana practice of bodhicitta and the Vajrayana practices of generation stage and completion stage.

In Theravada the ultimate goal is the attainment of the sublime state of Nirvana, achieved by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path (also known as the Middle Way), thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth. Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

Hmmm. I fear that I still know absolutely nothing about Buddhism….

While I was roaming around, I got pictures of four cats making their homes on the property:

Buddhist Temple cat

Buddhist Temple cat

Buddhist Temple cat

Buddhist Temple cat

I don’t care who you are or what you believe, if you are a kind enough human to take care of the most vulnerable among us, including wildlife but especially cats and dogs, you’re alright with me.

Following are some other pictures of the Temple buildings and grounds:

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

I admit that when it comes to religious buildings, I find most of them interesting but gaudy. With the money that it took to build them, I wonder how many homeless could have been sheltered, how many sick could have been cured, how many hungry could have been fed.

Do the all-powerful, all-knowing gods of the world’s religions really care so little about people worshipping differently, or worshipping others? Are they really sitting there watching television and rooting for their favorite football or basketball superstar?

This touchdown is for you, Jesus

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Mission Hills with a downtown view

Out & About San Diego

When I was delivering packages for Amazon Prime Now at this time last year, one of my goals was to find interesting places, nooks and crannies, that I probably wouldn’t find on my own. One such place I found was 1802 Puterbaugh Street in Mission Hills. It sits on a large lot on a high hill with a beautiful view of downtown San Diego.

1802 Puterbaugh Street, San Diego, California

View from 1802 Puterbaugh Street, San Diego, California

According to public records, the house was built in 1911 and has 2,088 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 1½ bathrooms. It also has a 2-car garage, something that may or may not be original to the property. Mission Hills in 1911 was an upscale, affluent neighborhood. It still is. Many of the people who lived in Mission Hills in 1911 could afford cars, and in today’s world their cars typically are top-of-the-line BMW’s, Mercedes-Benzes, and similar luxury cars.

Since it was dark when I made my delivery, I noted the address and went back a few weeks later during daylight to get some pictures. I thought the home might be a historical landmark but I haven’t found it on any lists so far.

The home last sold on September 7, 2010, for $650,000 to a man and woman with different last names. I mention that because on September 1, 2015, the man relinquished to the woman his interest in the property via a Quit Claim Deed. In other words, he simply gave her his share of the property, no questions asked. Sounds like a parting of the ways.

1802 Puterbaugh Street, San Diego, California

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Reminds me, something about a big wall

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My expedition to the boondocks of East San Diego County was via Old Highway 80, which started as a wagon trail in the 1860s; morphed into a narrow, concrete 2-lane “highway” in 1917; expanded into a wider, concrete 2-lane highway in 1930-32; and then began its decline in the ’60s when Interstate 8 was built. Many of the cities along Highway 80 were tourist traps in their heyday. Now the main traffic bypasses them on Interstate 8, and the only people using Highway 80 are locals, and weird people like me out searching for history.

Out in Jacumba Hot Springs, 80 miles east of downtown San Diego, I found the Chinese Castle. Looked like this:

Chinese Castle in Jacumba Hot Springs CA

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Chinese Castle is located at the top of a street named Snob Hill. It is a private residence and was not accessible. My research indicates that it was built in the 1920s by Frank Battles, a “wealthy eccentric.” Some sources say that construction began in 1914 and was completed in the 1930s. The foundation of the castle sits on solid granite, creating natural granite floors inside, and has an indoor pool hacked out of the granite.

Battles lived in China for many years and brought back a “heroic size Buddha” as well as carved chests, embroided silk screens, oriental rugs, and teak bird statues. The statues were said to have previously resided in a Chinese potentate’s palace. The Buddha and bird statues can be seen in the 1937 movie “The Good Earth,” based on Pearl Buck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1931 novel.

The Castle was owned from 1963 to 1976 by Harry Lee, a British novelist, and his wife, Velma, “an eccentric school teacher with a history of nude photos, multiple marriages, and a penchant for wearing safety whistles in her later years.” They used the home as a vacation home and artist retreat, writing for Harry and painting for Velma.

The Castle is located in what some call the “American Sahara.” It can get excessively hot out there, so the kitchen is separated from the rest of the house, allowing one to cook without adding additional heat to the living area. Interesting.

Jacumba Hot Springs, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray PhotosThere seem to be many ghost stories and legends attached to the Chinese Castle—illegal gambling, murder. One of the most interesting, somewhat relevant to today’s anti-immigrant administration directing the United States government, is that there is a secret tunnel running from a trap door in the kitchen floor to the Mexico border which is just a few hundred feet away, a tunnel used to bring in illicit merchandise and Chinese laborers.

Hmmm. Tunnels. Reminds me, something about a big wall……

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—How come Santa didn’t bring me a drone?

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Brick is not widely used in Southern California but the Del Mar depot, built in 1910 by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, is a beautiful brick depot located on Coast Boulevard between 15th and 17th streets.

Former Del Mar railroad depot in use from 1910 to 1995.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That depot had been in continuous use from 1910 to 1995. For many of those years it was the only passenger stop between Oceanside and San Diego, a distance of 39 miles. At the time of its closing, it was one of Amtrak’s busiest stations, mainly due to the Del Mar Fairgrounds being nearby. The Fairgrounds host hundreds of events throughout the year, including the San Diego County Fair, the 5th largest fair in the United States.

In the late 1980s, the city of Solana Beach, located two miles north of Del Mar, set about to build a regional transit center. The San Diego Association of Governments voted to close the Del Mar depot due to limited parking, the lack of handicapped access, and the poor logistics of providing for trains, buses, cars, and people. The Del Mar City Council rejected expanding the depot but hoped to keep it in operation as an Amtrak-only station; Amtrak nixed that idea and moved its Del Mar operations to Solana Beach.

Across from the Del Mar depot is one of Southern California’s prime surfing spots, so this area area is highly congested as surfers arrive by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, car, bus, and taxi. No longer do they arrive by train.

The depot now is private property so there is no access to it. I did find a walkway going above it where I got seven pictures to create the panorama show above. The picture below is looking down the tracks where you can see the depot on the right. That’s as close as you’re going to get to a trackside picture without a drone. Hmmmmmmmm. Drone. How come Santa didn’t bring me a drone?

Tracks at the former Del Mar railroad depot, in upper right.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat