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City of Encinitas Approved its First Historic
Landmark & Mills Act Contract

By Ron May, Legacy 106, Inc.

By resolution of the City Council on December 14, 2005, the City of Encinitas approved the Anthony and Katherine Berhalter House at 221 Sunset Drive as their first historic landmark and Mills Act contract. This historic event commemorated a 1926 Tudor Revival house and Cotswold cottage along with a spectacular landscape. In its time, the house commanded views of the Pacific Ocean.

Anthony and Katherine Berhalter owned a health food factory in Chicago and traveled west via train to California. Just a year earlier, Irene McFarland recorded the Seaside Estates subdivision north of Moonlight Beach. McFarland bought the land from Amy Bridges and Esther Cullen. Bridges and her husband, Appleton Bridges, owned enormous tracts of land from Point Loma to Escondido (the 2005 SOHO holiday party was held in their honeymoon home). Cullen and her husband, Frank, developed Cardiff-by-the-Sea in anticipation of the 1915-1916 Panama California Exposition.

Berhalter House


McFarland is surprisingly unknown at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum and Encinitas Historical Society. Surprising, because she was such a powerful woman in the Chamber of Commerce and Civic League Society in the 1920s and 1930s. During this period the largest baseball stadium on the West Coast was built at Seaside Estates in 1925, just north of Moonlight Beach. Hollywood celebrities tossed opening season balls at Encinitas Stadium. Later, the baseball fans and famous people partied all night at the Moonlight Pavilion. She also held events at her own large English Tudor style house on Neptune Avenue that she called "Sea Bluff." At one time, McFarland even bought Mrs. Jesse Shreve's Blue Goose restaurant.

The Berhalters were important in understanding the emerging upper class of Encinitas in the early 20th century. Of German and Czechoslovakian descent, they may have purchased agricultural products at the nearby Olivenhain Colony to ship back to Chicago for their health food industry.

The Berhalters hired Frank Beck of Orange to build the house. Since Beck built at least one English Tudor style house for McFarland, the Berhalters most likely hired Beck on her recommendation. Inspiration for the house may have come from the Stratford Inn of Del Mar, which was undergoing extensive renovation in 1925. Also, the Berhalters would have been familiar with half-timber style houses from Europe.

Historical photographs show the front yard always had a circular lawn. In the 1920s, the dirt access road circled the lawn. In the 1950s the road system was changed and the road became landscaped. Ten years ago an English thatcher spent a year restoring the thatch roof and the current owners, Anthony and Erin Smith have installed a cobblestone driveway made from stones salvaged from Old Sacramento. Ironically, some of those very cobblestones may have come from San Diego, as historical accounts reveal cobble from Ballast Point sold for $20 a ton in the 19th century.

The Smith family is proud to hold the distinction as the owners of the first registered historic landmark in the City of Encinitas. They will reinvest the property tax savings into long-term maintenance and repair of the Berhalter House.

2006 - Volume 37, Issue 1

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