Saved buildings
save our heritage organisation logo

Yahoo  MSN  Google

All Things Gill Coming to SOHO
July 2016

SOHO is featuring Irving Gill, San Diego's most prominent architect and a trailblazing early Modernist, for a six-month celebration called Irving Gill: Progress & Poetry in Architecture beginning September 23 and 24. SOHO and 11 other museums and institutions in San Diego County, are part of a multidisciplinary collaborative united under the title Irving Gill: New Architecture for a Great Country via exhibitions and other programming through March 2017.

A remarkable man and brilliant architect who was largely self-taught, Gill based his practice in San Diego during the first third of the 20th century. Much of his architecture has been lost, including some excruciatingly important examples in San Diego, such as the 1907 Melville Klauber House, demolished in 1979 after one of SOHO's hardest fought battles. Yet, enough of Gill's work survives and remains in use-coveted homes, apartment buildings, churches, schools, and civic buildings in San Diego County-that we can still appreciate and benefit from his progress and poetry. Fellow architects are emulating his design ideas to this day.

SOHO will be exploring the man and his work through an elegant exhibition at the Marston House, a 1905 mansion designed by Hebbard & Gill; architectural tours, publications, and lectures focused on Gill (1870-1936).

Our spectacular opening weekend, which is expected to draw visitors from throughout California and beyond, will begin Friday, September 23 with a lecture on Gill by Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, and a guided tour of the Gill-designed 1910 First Church of Christ, Scientist at Second Avenue and Laurel Street in Bankers Hill. Donaldson, Chairman of the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and formerly the State Historic Preservation Officer for the state of California, will present Irving Gill: Architect, Poet & Humanist, a penetrating look inside Gill, a man better known for his stripped-down Modernism than for his artistic and poetic aims linked to Progressive social reforms.

On Saturday, September 24, SOHO's exhibition Irving Gill: Progress & Poetry in Architecture will debut at the Marston House from 10am-5pm. The mansion itself is a crucial part of the exhibition, with its interior architecture illuminating art photography, photo post cards, and rare Gill-designed redwood furniture on display and vice versa.

"SOHO's exhibition will zero in on the aesthetic and philosophical rather than the technical nature of Gill's work," Alana Coons, SOHO's Director of Education and Communications, said. "Using non-traditional, highly personal media, it will offer insights into the genius of Gill through his creative processes, including recently discovered and previously unknown, c. 1908 glass-plate photographs of his buildings and interiors."

To many Gill homeowners and architecture and history buffs, his buildings represent the finest in early 20th-century architecture and conceptual thinking. It also reflects the architect's strong social conscience, which was inspired by his Quaker roots and the Progressive Movement, led by George W. Marston in San Diego and Teddy Roosevelt nationally.

Architectural tours for Irving Gill: Progress & Poetry in Architecture

  • The Marston House: Architectural Details of Master Architects Hebbard & Gill Take a walk on the architectural side with a 90-minute guided tour of the 1905 Marston House Museum inside and out. The San Diego firm of Hebbard & Gill designed the inviting English Arts & Crafts mansion with fluid indoor-outdoor connections. Irving Gill, one of the country's pioneering Modernist, created many of its design features and innovative conveniences. Exterior and interior architectural and construction details and period materials are highlighted, and include the Marston family's public and private rooms.

  • A Progressive Vision: San Diego's Seventh Avenue What began as a ten-acre, barren enclave owned by George W. Marston is now the shady and secluded 3500 block of Seventh Avenue, a cul-de-sac that is perfect for a 45-minute guided walking tour. The Marston House Museum & Gardens is one of about ten homes on the street, built between 1905 and 1913. Many were designed by Gill, when he was a partner in Hebbard & Gill, and they illustrate his design progression from English Arts & Crafts to Prairie Style to his ultimate triumph, cubistic Early Modernism-all in the space of two years, 1905 and 1906. More than a progression of styles you will also learn of his and his client's strong progressive ideas.

  • Urban Poetry: Irving Gill & Bankers Hill The sloped terrain of Bankers Hill, near downtown San Diego, is blessed with pedestrian bridges over canyons and views of San Diego Bay that few affluent professionals and first families and their architects could resist. The 90-minute guided walking tour contains content inspired by SOHO's celebration Irving Gill: Progress & Poetry in Architecture. These city blocks are rich in the early 20th-century Modern architecture that Gill pioneered and include the largest concentration of Gill homes built anywhere. As the neighborhood grew, other prominent architects, such as William Templeton Johnson, Mead & Requa, and Hazel Wood Waterman, San Diego's first female architect, also designed homes here.

The architecture's rhythms echo the city streets and soft canyons, like "frozen music," as architecture has been called, but substitute the word "poetry" and you've captured Gill's grace. They seem all the more Modern given the preponderance of Spanish, Tudor and Colonial Revival styles, yet Gill's designs are very much at home here, too. Another way in which his work stands apart is in receiving important commissions from independent, unmarried women who were as interested in Modernism—and modern conveniences by design—as Gill.

SOHO is seeking sponsors for the Gill exhibition, special events and tours. If you would like to know more about sponsorship opportunities, please click HERE.


  • Friday · 23 · 5-7:30pm
    Tour of 1910 Irving Gill-designed First Church of Christ, Scientist
    Lecture by Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA
    Purchase advanced tickets HERE
  • Saturday · 24 · 10am-5pm
    Exhibit opening at the Marston House
    Irving Gill: Progress & Poetry in Architecture

Guided Walking Tours in conjunction with Archtoberfest

Begin in November







2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-9327
Home | Contact