The Del Mar Historical Society has longed to bring Del Mar’s first house back home ever since it was relocated to the Del Mar Fairgrounds 25 years ago. With the possible relocation of the Alvarado House to Seagrove Park on the Parks and Recreation Committee’s Nov. 12 agenda, the society’s dream could be one step closer to a reality.
“It’s time to move it,” said Larry Brooks, president of the Del Mar Historical Society, which has collected, preserved and displayed the city’s historical facts, artifacts and properties since it was founded in 1985. “We’re hoping we can make something happen in the next year or so, but this is Del Mar and nothing goes fast.”
Built in 1885, the Alvarado House was given to the Del Mar Historical Society in 1985 when the new owner decided to build a bigger home on the lot at the foot of 10th Street, where the 600-square-foot home sat for a century. It was moved to the city hall parking lot for four years, and then relocated to the Del Mar Fairgrounds, where it’s been since 1989.
Today, the house, which was originally sold for $600, largely remains locked up and unused at the fairgrounds, except when it is open to the public for tours during the annual county fair.
The Del Mar Historical Society has always aimed to relocate the house to Seagrove Park on Coast Boulevard. Although initial efforts failed years ago, Brooks said the society is revisiting the idea because it offers the most potential.
“We know it’s going to be a tough go, but what we like about that idea is that it’s visible,” Brooks said. “It’s a corner in Del Mar where everything happens.”
If the Alvarado House were relocated to Seagrove Park near the Powerhouse Community Center, it would create an historical district, Brooks noted.
“We see it acting as a visitor information center, a museum on Del Mar history,” he said, adding there could potentially be a room for art from local artists and an office space for community services personnel. “Those are the kinds of things that we see — where it’s out in the public, it’s going to be seen and it’s going to be used.”
Other potential sites for the Alvarado House include the Shores property.
The council voted in August 2007 to purchase the $8.5 million property from the school district, with the intent to preserve current open space and recreational uses, continue operation of The Winston School, and initiate a master plan process. The city is currently in the beginning stages of the long-range plan, which will guide the development of the 5.3-acre park along Camino del Mar.
Another potential site is the city’s new city hall and civic center. Having just held its third community workshop on the matter, Del Mar is still relatively early in the planning process to replace the deteriorating city hall at 1050 Camino del Mar.
Brooks said the civic center option is better than the Shores option, but neither is the perfect spot like Seagrove Park.
“We plunk it in the park back here, the dog people and the little league people are going to see it, but nobody else is gong to see it,” he said. “It’s out of the fairgrounds, it’s available to us, but there’s no traffic, there’s no visibility.”
Del Mar resident Kay Hansen said she and other community members plan to attend the upcoming Parks and Recreation Committee meeting to protest the possibility of the Alvarado House being relocated to Seagrove Park.
“I have no problem with the Alvarado House coming back to Del Mar, and I’m also very much for the preservation of architecture,” said Hansen, who lives in the condos across from the park. “But for me and others who live in this area, we are against taking away open space. They have other options.”
Hansen launched a petition and has collected about 50 signatures from people against the Alvarado House at Seagrove Park. She plans to present the petition at the meeting Nov. 12.
“One should have a voice,” Hansen said. “We’re just trying to make people aware of it so they have a choice.”
But Brooks said the Del Mar Historical Society has made an effort to make the community aware, calling for public feedback in the Del Mar Times and other local papers. To date, he said he has received just seven emails or letters, one in favor of the historical house at Seagrove Park and six against.
“You’re not losing a lot of open space and it’s in a corner of the park that virtually never gets used,” said Brooks, who noted the 28-foot-by-28-foot-house would sit on the southeast corner of the park.
The Del Mar Historical Society currently has about $57,000 earmarked for the project. Pro bono architects and engineers have estimated the relocation and construction would cost approximately $250,000, if the house were moved to the Shores property, Brooks said.
Because the house would be located on a slope at the Shores property, the Del Mar Historical Society would need to build a basement for the house, which would be used as an atmospheric-controlled storage room. The relocation would cost significantly less if the house were moved to Seagrove Park or the civic center space, he said.
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