April 2011 home page

  100-Year Procession
Anthony Corso | Stratford Court


St. James Catholic Church when it was still a church. Today it has evolved into the Del Mar Library. Courtesy DMVA History Committee



On April 17th Del Mar will witness a grand procession of children, dressed in “red centennial T-shirts” and adults, carrying enormous palm branches. The procession, fittingly held on Palm Sunday, will commemorate the centennial of the St. James-St. Leo Catholic Community.

The pageant will begin at the Del Mar Library, which was once the site of the old St. James Church. The procession, which has been described as “historically reflective,” will proceed over two miles with stops along the way, terminating at the current St. James Church in Solana Beach, above the fairgrounds.

The first stop will be at the Rock Haus on 15th street where the first Mass was celebrated in the summer of 1911.The massive crowd that attended convinced the Bishop of an immediate need for a church. Soon after the church was in the planning stage, the Keller family, who resided in the Rock Haus, hired the architect, John Austin, and construction began shortly thereafter.

By 1937 the church was undergoing renovation, the Del Mar racetrack was opened and a number of celebrities became parishioners and generously contributed to the reconstruction. They included: Bing Crosby, Pat O’Brien, Desi Arnaz and Jimmy Durante.

In 1964 the Church experienced a population explosion; parishioners outgrew the space provided for worship and education. The church was sold; it experienced a number of transformations, including serving as the Albatross restaurant and later, the Del Mar Library. The St. James School, across Camino Del Mar, became the site of the current Del Mar City Hall. A new church was constructed in Solana Beach and joined with the nearby St. Leo’s mission. This is a brief history; more is being researched and written about as part of the centennial activities.
Everyone is invited to participate in this special occasion.



© 2007-2015 Del Mar Community Alliance, Inc.  All rights reserved.