Sunday, March 22, 2009

On Foot in San Diego: Encinitas Boat Houses

Yesterday I trekked up to Encinitas, about ten minutes north of Del Mar, to get a glimpse inside the Encinitas Boat Houses. They were recently acquired by the Encinitas Preservation Association, but they are still rentals to help pay down the cost of the acquisition. One of the "houses" was between tenants and, for a few hours on Saturday, the public was allowed in. Having learned from my experience trying to get into the Marston House a few weeks ago, I was there early to be in the first group.

In the way of background, Encinitas is a beach town of about 60,000, sprung up when the California Southern Railroad was building a line between Oceanside and downtown San Diego in 1881, intended to connect with the transcontinental Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. As water and wood for train fuel were available from Cottonwood Creek, Encinitas was a made a stop on the way. The population at the time was about 20 people.

A second boost to the town came in the 1920's with the opening of Lake Hodges reservoir as a water source. The population around this time would have been 200 people. One of these guys was Miles Kellogg, a local builder, who salvaged redwood from the Moonlight Beach Dance Parlor and Bathhouse that bit the dust in 1928 during Prohibition. The wood pieces were too short to build a conventional house so Mr. Kellogg drew on his boat building experience back in Michigan and built the SS Moonlight and SS Encinitas in 1928 in the mode of vernacular architecture.

The inside of the "boat" definitely has a boat feel, complete with portholes,

a galley kitchen,

and bow deck. Well, not your typical bow view from a boat.

One benefit from my stint at rowing is being able to remember the differences between bow and stern, port and starboard. The tenants next door have nicely fixed up their bow, a relaxing place to sit at the end of a long work day with a glass of Merlot and a cat.

As with many of my walkabouts, the people you meet can be as interesting as the site. I struck up a discussion with a gentleman in our tour group who appeared to be late 80's in age, sharp and witty. Lord, let that be me. He recalled these quirky boat houses built around the time he and his family moved to Leucadia just up the coast. I wondered if he might be connected with the English spiritualists that settled Leucadia in 1870 -- pre-railroad! - and danced outdoors in diaphanous white robes - the reason many of the Leucadia streets are named after gods and goddesses. I was dying to ask him but settled on asking more mundane questions about his growing up in the area.

Looking across the 101 and railroad from the bow, you can see the Derby House, built in 1887 by a railroad foreman for his wife and daughters near the train station, but also as an overnight boarding house for train passengers. The house is still privately owned.

After leaving the Boat Houses, I walked around the corner and up the hill a bit to the 1883 one room schoolhouse, built when there were 11 adults and 8 children comprising the total of Encinitas. Colonial Revival architecture, I believe. It took me back to my own early one room school house days in a Kentucky hollow with my father as the teacher.

Researching the Boat Houses online, I came across this description from a tenant in the 1970's.

"The upstairs was unheated and could be very cold and drafty in a winter rain storm. There was a terrible wind storm in February 1974 that I thought might knock the boat off its moorings. But it rode out the storm without a problem."

Two decks, a sunlight-flooded upstairs office with windows on three sides, two bedrooms, 1/12 baths, looking for a tenant at $1,950/month. A steal!


Pat said...

You know I would've asked that gentleman about his family's history!!!

chucker said...

Thanks! I too have photographed the "boat houses" and wished I could have peeked inside.

Did you go to the nearby Meditation Center? VERY nice and relaxing..Koi in reflecting ponds, Pacific vistas and stately palms.

Katharine said...

Chuck -
It's on my list, along with the Olivenhain town hall, Santa Fe station, Logan Heights murals, the missions, Leo Carillo ranch and a gazillion other historic places in San Diego. The shards are going together.

Sonnjea said...

I'm really enjoying your walkabouts, Kathie. I can't wait to see where you go next.

Katharine said...

Thanks, Sonnjea. I had no idea it would be so interesting and fun, right here in my back yard.