Del Mar’s Dunham House finds new home in Encinitas

The Dunham House on 10th Street in Del Mar is more than 130 years old.
(Courtesy of the Del Mar Historical Society)

Local preservationists found a new location in a new city for Del Mar’s historic Dunham House, which faced an October deadline to be relocated before facing demolition.

Plans are underway for the house to be transported approximately 10 miles from its longtime parcel at 119 10th Street in Del Mar to the San Dieguito Heritage Museum in Encinitas.

“We are very grateful to the San Dieguito Heritage Museum for taking this important part of Del Mar history and making it a feature of the museum,” Del Mar resident Laura DeMarco said.

The Del Mar Historical Society ran out of time to explore options for keeping the house in Del Mar. The property’s current owner, Chris Huber, is moving forward with plans to redevelop the Dunham House site. He previously committed to contributing to the costs of moving the existing structure if a new location was secured.

Historical society members hoped that one of a few city-owned properties could serve as the new site. But the organization received limited support from City Hall, which has scaled back the work of city staff to only essential operations due to pandemic-related cuts.

After hearing about the house, the heritage museum’s board of directors saw an opportunity.

“If this house isn’t saved from the wrecking ball, then it’s next tenant would be a bulldozer,” said Kerry Witkin, a board member.

He added that the Dunham House will serve as “a good centerpiece” for the museum’s 1.5-acre property on Quail Gardens Drive.

The Dunham house was built in the 1880s by Del Mar founder Jacob Taylor, according to the Del Mar Historical Society. It is named after former owners Ed and Lovey Dunham, and has long served as a symbol of Del Mar history.

In 2018, when the property’s previous owners were in the design review process to redevelop the land, a Historical Technical Resources Report concluded that the house has been too heavily modified over the years to qualify for state or local historic designation.

In addition to the funding from the house’s current owner, the historical society is also fundraising to cover the costs of moving the house, which include removing the roof so it can fit through underpasses and adding more structural support.

Larry Brooks, president of the Del Mar Historical Society, said he originally hoped the house could stay in Del Mar and serve as the society’s home base.

“We’re still looking for a home if anybody’s got any other ideas for us,” Brooks said. “One of these days I assume we’ll get a place in town.”