Del Mar Village Association History Committee releases second commemorative historical ornament

By Karen Powell, Del Mar Village Association board member

In celebration of Del Mar’s recent designation as a Certified Main Street and the upcoming holiday season, the History Committee of the Del Mar Village Association has just announced the release of its second commemorative historical ornament. This colorful decoration depicts the Del Mar Library, historically known as St. James Catholic Church. The building, located on the corner of 13th Street and Camino Del Mar, was the first Catholic Church in town. The first Mass at St. James was held upon its completion in 1914 despite its lack of lighting, pews or an altar. The Parish continued to grow over the years and was eventually forced to relocate to Solana Beach where it was able to accommodate its burgeoning congregation.

Rather than fall prey to a wrecking ball, the building interior was redesigned in 1971 and converted into a fish restaurant called The Albatross. Pancho’s Restaurant later followed The Albatross, and shortly thereafter the building was transformed into commercial office space. The City was able to purchase the building in 1994 at a cost of $1.2 million. In 1997, after considerable fund raising on the part of The Friends of the Del Mar Library, the old St. James Church building was able to open its doors once again and welcome the public at the new Del Mar Library. To this day it remains an historical treasure and a cornerstone of the Del Mar Village.

The first commemorative historical ornament depicting Stratford Square made its debut in 2011. This prominent building on the corner of 15th Street and Camino Del Mar was originally known as the Kockritz Building. It housed a drugstore, soda fountain, grocery store, barbershop, doctor, and dress shop. It was built in 1927 in an Old English architectural style to match the Del Mar Hotel and surrounding buildings. Stratford Square has been host to numerous inhabitants since its inception, from its original local service businesses to street level shops, second story apartments, offices, restaurants and a museum of local history. The decaying building was purchased and renovated by local developer Jim Watkins in 1971, and became a designated historical landmark in 1978. Both Stratford Square and the Del Mar Library commemorative ornaments are available for sale at the Del Mar Community & Visitor Center located at 1104 Camino Del Mar, Suite #1. The DMVA History Committee plans to release a new commemorative historical ornament each year.

— The Del Mar Village Association is dedicated to enhancing the vitality of the village of Del Mar while preserving its history and unique character.