Del Mar Historical Society to hold Alvarado House fundraiser

By Kristina Houck

With a goal to bring Del Mar’s first house back home, the Del Mar Historical Society is hosting a fundraiser June 16 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Built in 1885, the Alvarado House currently sits at the fairgrounds, where it’s been since 1989. With the master planning process for the development of Del Mar Shores Park underway, society members hope to relocate the historical house to the 5.3-acre site along Camino del Mar.

“We think that its permanent place is coming soon, so we want to make people aware we’ll need funds to move the house,” 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.

Originally sold for $600, 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.

Today, the house largely remains locked up and unused at the fairgrounds, except when it is open to the public for tours during the annual county fair.

“I just can’t put words on the value that I think bringing that house back to Del Mar would do for Del Mar and for history in general,” said Anne Allen, a member of the Del Mar Historical Society. “It’s our goal to preserve history and to be able to present it and allow others to enjoy and learn from it.”

Originally, the Del Mar Historical Society aimed to relocate the house to Seagrove Park on Coast Boulevard. Although initial efforts failed, Brooks said the park remains a potential site, but the Shores property seems to be a greater possibility.

The Del Mar City Council voted in August 2007 to purchase the $8.5 million Shores property from the Del Mar Union 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 long-range plan will guide the development of the park, where The Winston School currently sits on 1.8 acres of leased land. From organized sports to off-leash dog use, community members have a variety of ways they want to use the remaining space. In April, the council formed an advisory committee to help with the master plan process.

The Del Mar Historical Society is eyeing two potential spots on the property, both on slopes, Brooks said.

Once the Alvarado House has a permanent home, the Del Mar Historical Society will finally have an official headquarters. Currently, members meet at 5 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month in the conference room at 225 Ninth Street in Del Mar. Meetings are open to the public.

In addition to a home for the Del Mar Historical Society, Brooks said the Alvarado House would be used as a museum, as well as a gathering place for meetings and events. The house — which has two bedrooms, a parlor, a family dining room and a kitchen — could potentially accommodate a small art gallery as well, Brooks said.

If located on a slope at the Shores property, the Del Mar Historical Society also plans to build a basement for the house, which would be used as an atmospheric-controlled storage room.

The Del Mar Historical Society currently has $55,000 earmarked for the project. Pro bono architects and engineers have estimated the move and construction will cost approximately $250,000, Brooks said.

“A museum of sorts, an art gallery of sorts, a meeting place of sorts — it may become an icon for the city since it is Del Mar’s first house,” Brooks said. “If we can get it in the proper setting, I think it can really be powerful.”

To raise awareness about the need for a permanent home for the Alvarado House, and to raise funds for the relocation project, the Del Mar Historical Society is hosting a fundraiser at the Alvarado House from 6-9 p.m. June 16 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Tickets cost $75 and include food, drinks and entertainment by San Diego-based boogie-woogie pianist Sue Palmer.

The event will also include a silent auction, which will feature several items, including a handmade quilt that highlights the history of the city and a one-year parking pass for Del Mar.

To inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact the Del Mar Historical Society at

For more information about the Del Mar Historical Society, to purchase tickets to the event, or to donate to the Alvarado House relocation project, visit