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Saving Dunham House
Jeff Barnouw | Amphitheatre Drive

The Dunham House on 10th Street.
Courtesy Sinead NiGhablin.

The Del Mar Historical Society (DMHS) was running out of options. Its president Larry Brooks wrote a last appeal to the City Council in early September, saying that the Dunham House, the last remaining Jacob Taylor cottage in the historic heart of Del Mar had to be moved from 119 10th Street by October 1 or be destroyed by new development. The new owner, Chris Huber, had generously offered to donate the funds that would have paid for demolition to the effort of moving the house. But to where?

The City was beset by the need to find places for affordable housing. The option of putting it in Area C on the southwest corner of the Civic Center on 10th Street (a location DMHS envisaged for the Alvarado House) was ruled out by the proposed 6th cycle Housing Element that reserves area C for low income housing.
But then, like the deus ex machina of Greek tragedy, the San Dieguito Heritage Museum (SDHM) offered the house a place of honor at the entrance to its impressive “old town” Heritage Ranch at 450 Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas. Kerry Witken, treasurer of SDHM, said it would make “a good centerpiece.” The museum already displays items and photos from Del Mar, and there will be a grand opening exhibit on Del Mar once the new buildings are established.

It is not generally known that the Dunham house includes two buildings, the historic one from the mid 1880s and a smaller 19 x 19 back addition from the 1970s, built in a style consistent with the old house. Without its porch the original house is similar in size (and much else) to Alvarado House, 28’ x 28'.

At an October 13 meeting of SDHM and DMHS members with the owner Chris Huber and the contractor who will move the house, it was decided to cut the front house in half, so that three trips will be needed. The roof will be demolished (with its widows walk) in Del Mar and rebuilt at the Heritage Ranch. The move will start as soon as the necessary permits are obtained: first a building permit, then demolition and encroachment.

The windfall for the Museum and the City of Encinitas is also a win for the Del Mar Historical Society and the City of Del Mar. A valuable part of its past will be secured to be enjoyed by all of us. Now we can go back to worrying about the Alvarado House.



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