New photo exhibit depicts early Del Mar

Get a glimpse of Old Del Mar with a new photography display at the Herbert B. Turner Gallery at Southfair.

Curated by the Del Mar Historical Society, the exhibit features about two dozen photos of early Del Mar, from the 1880s through the early 1990s.

“History, unfortunately, is not very popular right now, but it’s still very important,” said Larry Brooks, president of the Del Mar Historical Society.

Located in the two center display cases outside The Gym in Del Mar, Brooks explained the exhibit depicts early Del Mar from 1885 through 1900, when the city was centered at 10th Street and Railroad Avenue, now Stratford Court.

Among the photos, there are images of the Old Del Mar school, store and train station. There is also a model of the Alvarado House. Built in 1885, the Alvarado House was donated 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 house sat for a century. The house 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.

The second display case, Brooks explained, showcases “New Del Mar” in the early 1900s, with the city now centered at 15th Street and Camino del Mar.

Among the photos, there are pictures of the construction of the railroad track on the bluffs, which replaced the 30-year-old track on Railroad Avenue, as well as Stratford Inn, which was later renamed Hotel Del Mar until its closure in the 1960s. There is also an old “private property” sign that warned people the beach was for the residents of Del Mar.

“It’s important to know where things came from, and know who you are,” Brooks said. “You’ve got to know where you came from to figure out where you want to go.”

The photos are owned by 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. The society has roughly 3,000 pictures, most of which have since been digitized.

Dayna Carroll dedicated the display in memory of her life partner, Helen Montgomery-Drysdale, and in tribute to Herbert Turner, builder of Southfair.

The late Montgomery-Drysdale of Del Mar was known for her photographs of film stars, jazz musicians and thoroughbreds during her 50-year career. She and Turner, a local artist and architect, became lifelong friends. Montgomery-Drysdale mounted many photo exhibits at the Herbert B. Turner Gallery and at the Turner-built Del Mar cable studio until she died in 2013.

With a donation from Carroll, Del Mar Historical Society will feature a new display at the gallery every few months. The current photos will be on display through June 1.

The Herbert B. Turner Gallery at Southfair is located at 2010 Jimmy Durante Boulevard in Del Mar. For more about the Del Mar Historical Society, visit