Del Mar's Historic Buildings Share Their Stories

Posted by Dennis DeSouza on Saturday, April 9th, 2016 at 9:58am.

View of oceanfront park on 18th Street in Del Mar, California
"18th Street, Del Mar, California" by Mitch Vander Vorst is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When Del Mar real estate buyers purchase properties, they are buying more than luxury homes in a beautiful seaside village. They are buying homes in a community with a rich history that stretches back more than 130 years. Sometimes, the sands of time erode memories of the past, but Del Mar’s history is honored and kept relevant through interactive and engaging community efforts.

Present day Del Mar homes are seated in a charming seaside village that stretches across two miles of sun-drenched coastline. Del Mar is known not only for its beauty, but also for its community mindedness. Within Del Mar, one will find superb beaches, parks, farmer’s markets and a community that prides itself on being very dog-friendly. This inviting coastal village can trace its roots back to the 1880s’ and shares its story with pride.

Del Mar's self-guided history tours

Del Mar’s downtown village was built in the 19th century and continues to thrive today with over 80 stores and restaurants. Over the years, Del Mar became the home of the San Diego County Fair and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, which made the seaside village a beloved Southern California destination.

Rich histories like Del Mar’s are meant to be shared, which is likely why the Del Mar Village Association History Committee created and launched a self-guided history tour. When Del Mar was founded in 1885, few could have possibly imagined that the community would be traced step-by-step by future Del Mar residents on technologically enhanced history tours, but a couple of years ago, that very experience became a reality. In 2014, plaques with Quick Response Code technology were installed on historically significant buildings throughout Del Mar. Passersby and those embarking on history tours can use their phones to scan barcodes on the plaques to access information about each building’s unique past.

Del Mar’s self-guided history tour features a number of buildings, including the following:

1. Davidson Building

The Davidson Building was built in 1927. Throughout its history, the Davidson Building has been home to the Hotel Del Mar Garage and a silk stocking factory.

2. Del Mar Library

The Del Mar Library was once the St. James Catholic Church, which was the first Catholic Church in Del Mar. According to the Del Mar Village Association, when the church held its first mass back in 1914, it did so sans pews, lights and altar.

3. Del Mar Post Office

The Del Mar Post Office was also called the Kibler Building. At the time, the town’s Postmistress was Mae Kibler.

4. En Fuego Cantina and Grill

En Fuego Cantina and Grill is inside a Spanish-style home that was built in 1930. Years passed and the home became Cantina La Tienda, a restaurant that according to the Del Mar Village Association, was often frequented by Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien.

5. Jake’s Del Mar

Jake’s Del Mar’s address has been in use since 1910, when the Stratford Inn Garage was built. Per the Del Mar Village Association, the building has served as a sheriff deputy headquarters, Coast Guard barracks, an art studio and gallery, and the home of tech startup that built one of the first personal computers. When the original building was torn down, its wood trusses were reclaimed and incorporated into the building that exists today.

6. St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter’s Church was built in 1940, nine years after Father Gerald C. Gardner was sent by Bishop Stevens to found the first Episcopal Mission Church in Del Mar. According to the Del Mar Village Association, Father Gardner enlisted the help of architect Carlton M. Winslow to design the church.

7. Stratford Square

Stratford Square, which was once called the Kockritz Building, was built in 1927. The building boasts English-style architecture and originally housed a dress shop, drug store, soda fountain, barbershop, and a few other businesses. Stratford Square has been a historical landmark since 1978 and holds a history gallery with a collection of early photos of Del Mar and famous past residents, including Jimmy Durante, Desi and Lucy Arnaz and Bing Crosby.

8. Zel’s Del Mar

Zel’s Del Mar is now a popular restaurant, but it was once a Pacific Telephone Exchange.

Del Mar holds historic homes as well. The Del Mar Historical Society curates a collection of photos and artifacts from Del Mar’s past and maintains one of Del Mar’s oldest historic homes, the Alvarado House.

For more information about homes in Del Mar, visit our Del Mar page or contact DeSouza Select Properties.

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