Preserving the Past
Featured on these pages are photos of Panama-California Exposition “lost buildings,” from the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive. Prior to the formation of this committee in 1967, many structures from the 1915 Exposition were torn down. Although they were temporary buildings for the Exposition, their beauty inspired many people. As a result, the Committee of One Hundred was formed to preserve Spanish Colonial architecture in Balboa Park. Organized by the indomitable Bea Evenson and reportedly named by the accomplished San Diego architect Sam Hamill, the formal creation of the Committee of One Hundred was the culmination of intense volunteer work to rebuild the Food and Beverage Building. Wisely, the committee removed the original ornamentation before demolition and had it recast for application during the reconstruction. Once completed, the building was renamed Casa del Prado, the name by which it continues to be known and enjoyed by millions of visitors.
Since its inception 47 years ago, the Committee of One Hundred has had only four presidents, Evenson, Fritz Kunzel, Pat DeMarce, and Michael Kelly, MD. Their strong leadership and focused mission has guided many important projects and produced a substantial list of accomplishments — the Botanical Garden Tile Restoration (2013), the Alcazar Garden Tile Restoration (2008), the West Prado Arcade Reconstruction (2005), the House of Hospitality Reconstruction (1997), the House of Charm Reconstruction (1996), the East Prado Arcade Reconstruction (1992), the Casa de Balboa Reconstruction (1982), the Spreckels Organ Pavilion Reconstruction (1981), and the Casa del Prado Reconstruction (1972). The Committee of One Hundred will also present two current projects to the city as its contribution to the 2015 Centennial Panama-California Exposition celebration. One is the Panama-California Sculpture Court, where 18 pieces are being cleaned and restored. Nestled in Casa del Prado patio, the court contains works of both historical and cultural significance, and is being upgraded with new interpretive graphics as well. The second gift for the 2015 centennial is the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive devoted to the 1915 Exposition, a resource that is expanding on a regular basis. Images, documents, and audio and video recordings are available online. (www.archive.org/details/committeeofonehundred,www.balboapark.org/2015/historicphotos) DARLENE G. DAVIES
Richard Amero devoted a large part of his life to the documentation of Balboa Park history. In a way, it may be said Balboa Park was his life, and he had an especially keen, even obsessive, interest in the 1915 and 1935 Expositions. To say he was a voluminous writer is an understatement. His writings were so extensive, Committee of One Hundred president Michael Kelly undertook the enormous task of editing Amero’s account of the Panama-California Exposition. The result is Balboa Park and the 1915 Exposition, a work chock full of both information about the 1915 fair and human stories. The many photos are drawn mainly from the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive, which in turn was inspired by the vast body of work Amero deposited at the San Diego History Center.
“Lost buildings” and book photos: Courtesy of Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive