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Kensington's Historic Streetscapes

By Maggie McCann

Kensington residents are initiating efforts to preserve and protect our historical assets in the public right-of-way, including the Kensington Park cobblestone boundary pillars, ornamental acorn and crown street lamp posts, and California Pepper and Queen Palm trees that have lined our streets since the original subdivisions were created. We hope to eventually preserve our cultural landscape within a new Kensington Historic Corridor.

Left Acorn street lamp, found throughout the Kensington Manor and Talmadge Park subdivisions of Kensington. Middle Crown street lamp, found only in Kensington Heights and Pasadena, and installed by the developers of both areas, the Davis-Baker Company of Pasadena. Right Taller acorn lamp posts found along Adams Avenue. These differ in style and height from those found in the residential areas and may have followed the trolley system.

Original cobblestone entry pillar that marks the southern boundary of the Kensington Park subdivision at Edgeware Road and Monroe Avenue.

A nearly 100-year-old California pepper tree on Edgeware Road in Kensington Park.

Without the protection of an historic district, trees that were planted as part of the original subdivisions are being removed and sometimes replaced with nothing but concrete. The unique crown street lamps in Kensington Heights, north of Hilldale Road, are not found anywhere else in San Diego, but are found in Pasadena. Davis and Baker, the developers of Kensington Heights, were also the developers of Pasadena. These lamp posts have a story to tell, yet when a crown breaks the City has been replacing them with acorn globes even though good quality replicas are available. Some ornamental lamp posts have been replaced with plain concrete pillars.

The lamp posts throughout the neighborhood are showing signs of wear, mainly rust underneath layers of paint covering the metal lamp posts, but also broken panes of glass in the crown globes, mismatched posts, missing lamp posts, and other than a few acorn lamp posts scattered down Adams Avenue, nothing but modern cobra lighting in the heart of the oldest part of Kensington Park. Protection is needed for the remaining lamp posts and trees, as well as the few remaining cobblestone boundary pillars. Many of the pillars have been moved and rebuilt due to the expansion of State Route 15, with the exception of one pillar at the corner of Edgeware Road and Monroe Avenue. Other boundary pillars are long gone, and none retain the original lamps on the top that were once there according to an old newspaper article recently uncovered.

Kensington was described in the 1998 Mid-City Communities Plan: "With its stone gateways, ornamental lighting, and curving streets, the neighborhood is a strong candidate for designation as a historic district." Unfortunately, the last historical resources survey done in our neighborhood was in 1996 and it was never submitted to the State. We must begin the work to form a traditional historic district again, but in the meantime we will start by working to protect our cultural landscape, as each of these elements help define Kensington as surely as our Craftsman and Mission Revival bungalows.

Photos by Maggie McCann.

2008 - Volume 39, Issue 3/4


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