Coronado City Council Upholds Designation
by the City's Historical Resources Commission
By Bruce Coons
With overwhelming support from the community, the Coronado City Council unanimously voted to uphold the Historic Designation for the only known Hawaiian Plantation Style Bungalow in San Diego County. One of the council members said this house represents what he thinks a historic house should be. "When you walk up to the door it feels as if you are walking into the past."
This house represents one of San Diego's earliest and purest forms of the bungalow style that originated in India and was spread around the world by the British Empire. The house located at 300 First Street in Coronado was designed and built in 1895 by Master Architect William Sterling Hebbard for Armand Jessop of the famous Jessop clan. Later the house was occupied by the U.S. Navy's first flight surgeon George Thompson. Coronado, you may remember, is the birthplace of Naval Flight.
Originally the house was surrounded on two sides by sandy beaches with the bay on the east and the Old Spanish bight on the north. The Spanish bight was an inlet that separated North Island from Coronado until it was filled in by the military. This uniquely styled home was one of a number of houses constructed in various styles by the Jessop family along First Avenue in Coronado. George Thompson, the flight surgeon, often remarked how much it reminded him of the plantation houses that he occupied at naval stations in Hawaii. The house has its original unpainted redwood beaded tongue and groove interior, tall ceilings, wide verandahs and is in good condition. The mature plantings, especially the magnificent tree ferns towering over the verandah and lawn, enhance the tropical feel of the house. SOHO has been watching this home for over twenty years on account of its stylish and unique character. The current owners, the Beck family, have owned the home for 50 years and were instrumental in the creation of the Coronado golf course. Currently the home is in a family trust and the owner wants to demolish the house, split the lot and build new houses on the site, one for resale and the other to be possibly retained by the family. This is despite the odd triangular shaped lots, which will offer little actual room for building, and even less after setbacks are factored in. The family says they are still going to pursue demolition, but we hope they will reconsider and work with SOHO and the community to find a solution that will met their requirements and preserve this one-of-a-kind contribution to San Diego and Coronado's architectural and cultural heritage. The loss of this house would deprive further generations of the unique and gracious influence that this house has exuded for over 111 years to all who had the great pleasure of seeing her and glimpsing a powerful view of old Coronado, Hawaiian style. Aloha.
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