Solana Beach hosts reception for architect exhibit

By Linda McIntosh


Solana Beach City Hall, though usually closed on Saturdays, was abuzz with activity on June 12 as more than 80 Lilian J. Rice aficionados gathered for the opening of an exhibit about Rice and her architectural accomplishments, the foremost being the design of Rancho Santa Fe.

The opening reception marked the exact date of Rice’s 121st birthday. Titled “The Excitement is Building: The Life, Work and Legacy of Architect Lilian J. Rice,” the show features 41 photographs and drawings of Rice’s architectural work throughout San Diego and runs through the end of month at the Solana Beach City Hall Gallery.

“The purpose of the exhibit is to showcase Rice’s work and show the art of the photographers who captured pictures of her architecture,” said Diane Welch, who organized the event.

The exhibit also showcased an oil painting of Rice being completed by artist Jennifer Chapman.

Welch presented a documentary on Rice’s life (1889-1938) at the kick-off event and signed copies of her latest book on San Diego history, “Lilian J. Rice.”

Welch got the idea to write the book while she was working on an article about San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas and found out that Rice designed and supervised the construction of the school in 1936.

In addition to Rice’s work on Rancho Santa Fe, the master architect worked on many design and construction projects in the San Diego area during the 1920s and 1930s, including homes for movie stars and celebrities. Rice designed the Eckes’ ranch home in 1936.

“She not only survived, but thrived in the male dominated profession of architecture during the challenging years of the Great Depression,” Welch said. “I began to realize the significance of this woman’s place in history.”

If you go

  • Exhibit: ‘The Excitement is Building: The Life, Work and Legacy of Architect Lilian J. Rice’
  • When: 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every other Friday, through June 30
  • Where: Solana Beach City Hall Gallery, 635 S. Highway 101, (858) 720-2454
  • Cost: Free
  • Web: