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Virginia Lawrence | Caminito Del Rocio


 The tall windows overlooking 9th Street. 
Photo Virginia Lawrence at the Grand Opening on August 28.


WHEN LARRY BROOKS tore down the dry wall in the storage room of the former DMUSD Administration Building on 9th Street, he was astonished to uncover a row of coat hooks only 3 feet off the floor and only 6 inches apart – shades of the kindergarten built there in 1950. Among those who feted the new Del Mar Community Building on August 28 were many whose memories of the premises dated back to their own kindergarten days. One of the Sandpiper editors, Nancy Fisher, can remember unrolling her blankie beneath the tall windows on the 9th Street side for her daily nap. “Actually,” recalls Nancy, “it wasn’t a separate room in those days, just one huge open space. And we didn’t really sleep. We spent our time trying not to giggle.” She has no recollection of any coat hooks!

Kindergarten Comes of Age
The 9th Street Kindergarten was built in 1950 in the northeast corner of the 1947 Del Mar Shores School campus. By the time the Shores School was reborn in 1988 as the Winston School, the kindergarten had been taken over by the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) as their Administrative Building. When the City bought the Shores property in 2008, the Admin Building was rented back to the school district until July 2011. Finally, on August 28, 2012, after standing vacant for months, the kindergarten was inaugurated as the Del Mar Community Building.

Inspiration for the Community Building project came from Betty Wheeler, Del Mar Foundation (DMF) Vice-President. With the support of Councilmember Lee Haydu, Betty approached the City in November 2011 to explore using the old building, which had been vacant for 3 months, as a community building. Six months later, in May 2012, the DMF signed an agreement with the City for interim use of the property. As part of the agreement the DMF accepted responsibility for all expenses – renovation, repairs, utilities, and upkeep. The DMF reached a later agreement with Del Mar Community Connections (DMCC) to share both the premises and the expenses. It was also decided the premises should be available for use by other community groups. The construction permit was issued on July 26.

Only 26 Days for a Head to Toe Makeover!

Larry Brooks on the job!  Photo Virginia Lawrence

The remodel was designed pro bono by Del Mar architect Don Countryman. $15000 was budgeted for the remodel, of which $8000 was designated for a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant bathroom. The entire bathroom remodel was done by Solana Beach contractor Bret Stephens between July 26 and August 20, with the final inspection on August 21. The construction was finished under budget only a mere 10 days before the Grand Opening on August 28!

The Renovator-in-Chief for the project was Larry Brooks, who (it should be noted) did much of the work himself: (in descending order of preference) wiring, tearing down and putting up, plumbing, and painting. Betty Wheeler was the overall Project Coordinator. Like Larry, she didn’t only oversee her volunteer troops; as recently as September 7 she was spotted patching and painting the DMF storage room next to the lounge.

Outside painting was done by professional Jose “Angel” Alfaro; the inside was painted by a team of volunteers under Pat JaCoby (DMCC). Del Mar Public Works carried out a massive removal of rubble, yard waste, and old furniture, followed by a massive delivery of rocks for Mary Friestedt’s landscaping project. Mary, the Del Mar Garden Club, and numerous volunteers get all the credit for the cleanup and beautification of the grounds. Julie Iantorno (DMCC) donated furnishings.

Now as you come in the front door, you find yourself in a lounge with the ADA bathroom on the right, and beyond it the storage room for the DMF. Beyond the lounge is the kitchen, whose back area has been walled off to create storage for the DMCC. Outside the kitchen next to the parking lot is a second storage area for the DMF, and yet another for the Del Mar Village Association (DMVA) History Committee. Back inside, and moving down the hall, you find Heather Glenn, DMCC Program Director, on the phone in the new DMCC office, and behind her a computer lab used for Brain Fitness and computer classes. At the end of the hall is the DMF main office, where the new Executive Director, Karen Wilson, has begun to direct executively. Starting back down the hall you come to the new meeting room with the conference table and the tall windows, where 4-year-old Nancy Fisher tried to keep out of trouble with Principal Clark Howard. Was she successful? Better ask her!

Note: Would you be willing to share your memories of the 9th Street Kindergarten? Please send them to:



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