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SOHO Takes on the Marston House

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Aired 8/11/09

The Irving Gill-designed Marston House in Balboa Park, which was closed to the public in February, 2009, has re-opened under the operation of Save Our Heritage Organization. We discuss the house, expense of historic preservation, and George Marston's history in San Diego.

The Marston House Museum sits on grassy hill in Balboa Park, San Diego. The historical mansion was recently re-opened to the public after being temporarily closed because of high cost of maintenance.
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Above: The Marston House Museum sits on grassy hill in Balboa Park, San Diego. The historical mansion was recently re-opened to the public after being temporarily closed because of high cost of maintenance.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. The recent history of San Diego's Marston House goes to show you can't keep a good historic site down for long. Just this past February, the San Diego Historical Society was forced to close the Marston House Museum in Balboa Park because it was just too expensive to maintain. Ironically, record-breaking crowds showed up on its final open weekend to tour the house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, the Marston House Museum, its carriage house and gardens have reopened to the public. The Save Our Heritage Organization, or SOHO, has reached an agreement of operations with the City to maintain, restore and expand the museum. It's a big undertaking, especially in the current economic climate but one SOHO officials feel is well worth the effort for one of California's premier house museums. With me to talk about the Marston House, its re-opening and what it means to San Diego are my guests. Bruce Coons, Executive Director of Save Our Heritage Organization. Welcome to These Days, Bruce.

BRUCE COONS (Executive Director, Save Our Heritage Organization): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: And Roger Showley is staff writer at the Union-Tribune. Roger, welcome.

ROGER SHOWLEY (Staff Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune): Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: And Pat Kelly. We'll let – we'll talk with her a little bit later. She used to be manager of the Tea Room restaurant in the old Marston's Department Store. I want to welcome you to These Days, Pat.

PAT KELLY (Former Manager, Tea Room Restaurant, Marston's Department Store): Thank you. It's lovely to be here.

CAVANAUGH: And I want to invite our listeners to get involved in the conversation. Are you pleased Marston House is open again? Do you have perhaps memories, family memories, of the Marston Department Store or Tea Room? Give us a call at 1-888-895-5727. Let me start with you, Bruce, and give us a thumbnail sketch of the Marston House and why it's important to San Diego.

COONS: Well, the Marston House was built in 1905. It was designed by architects William Sterling Hebbard and Irving Gill. It is a masterpiece of Arts and Crafts architecture and is considered to be one of the top 25 Arts and Crafts house museums in the country. Marston himself was extremely important to San Diego and his legacy is some of the things that we love most about San Diego, Anza-Borrego State Park, the beautification of Balboa Park, Torrey Pines State Park, Presidio Park, Presidio Golf Course, the restoration of the Carrillo House and the Machado-Silvas House. He was really the first historic preserve – real historic preservationist in San Diego, preserving the original site of the first European settlement on the west coast of North America.

CAVANAUGH: Now when we talk about the Marston House reopening in Balboa Park, it's not just a house, though, is it?

COONS: No, it's a house and gardens, and it's a whole complex. It's five acres. There's two and a half acres of restored gardens and two and a half more acres canyon gardens that we're seeking to restore. The carriage house is open to the public for the first time, and that's the gift shop and entrance now. It is a major estate, the 8500 square foot main house and a spectacular location on the northwest corner of Balboa Park.

CAVANAUGH: Now, as I said, the Save Our Heritage Organization is now operating the Marston House. Before, it was run by the Historical Society. Why did the Historical Society have to give it up?

COONS: They were not receiving enough income to support their employees and they were forced to give it up and retrench and they are concentrating on the Museum of San Diego History in Balboa Park.

CAVANAUGH: So how is SOHO going to make this work financially?

COONS: Well, we believe we're the right people to do it. We run the most successful house museum in the county, the Whaley House, which we've increased the attendance there over 1000% since we've been there. We have 120,000 visitors a year and we believe that we can do similar things with the Marston House. We believe that it should be made a part of people's memories again so they'll love it. And we're going to have a lot of activities there, changing exhibits. Right now, we have an exhibit of Irving Gill designed furniture and Meek and Requa furniture and plein-air artist Alfred Mitchell and Charles Fries so we'll have changing exhibits. We will be having events there and we'll be developing tour packages for spouse packages and for cruise ships and, hopefully, a perpetual home tour in the future.

CAVANAUGH: That's very interesting. I know that one of the reasons the San Diego Historical Society had to give up the property was because of deferred maintenance on the Marston House. What kind of condition is the house in right now?

COONS: The house needs a lot of work. It's got about a million and a half dollars worth of deferred maintenance. We are seeking to raise funds for that. We have several large donors that have come forward that will provide some of that money. The City does need to take some care in that. And we've done quite a few repairs already, and we reopened the bedroom wing that wasn't open before. We've repaired a lot of the plumbing, a lot of the miscellaneous problems that were around the house, but we have some major issues like reappointing all the brick work and then repainting the outside and repairing the windows and restoring the carriage house.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Right, exactly. And, again, to go back to one of the reasons that the Historical Society said this – they just had to give up operations in the house is because they – the house brought in about $12,000 a year and cost about $70,000 a year to operate. So have you crunched the numbers? I mean, are you really looking with all the kinds of different programs that you're thinking about, is this going to work for your organization financially?

COONS: We believe it will. And it's probably a few years before it starts even breaking even and our operation is much more extensive so our costs will actually be much higher than the Historical Society's. But we believe that we can generate the revenue and the interest and we – and we've done it before and we believe we can do it here. One of the key items is being able to control the events on the grounds and the revenue from the events on the grounds. That is something the Historical Society did not have control over and they didn't have control over the carriage house either. And so we believe the event revenue and historic related events that we have planned will help bridge that gap.

CAVANAUGH: Now do you mean you want to open up the house for weddings and corporate events and things of that nature?

COONS: Not the house so much but the grounds and the house as a museum as part of corporate events, though the house itself will still be on a tour basis and there may be a few rooms that are part of the events but most of them will still be on guided tour.

CAVANAUGH: And right now, does the City allow you to charge enough for those events so that that would make it feasible?

COONS: We're still talking about that. That's one of the things that in this transition period that we still have to iron out. And that is not resolved as of yet.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, and so – but do you see that somewhere along the line you're going to be able to reach an agreement on that.

COONS: I believe so. I think we have the framework to reach an agreement or we would not have, you know, entered the house as we've spent considerable sums just to get it open, refurnishing it and getting it ready for opening. It was quite a chore. The house was – hadn't been cleaned from top to bottom in a long time and hadn't been repaired and there were five plumbing leaks that were…

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

COONS: …active and…

CAVANAUGH: We all know what plumbing costs.

COONS: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with Bruce Coons, Executive Director of Save Our Heritage Organization. We’re talking about the reopening of the historic Marston House Museum in Balboa Park. We are taking your calls as well. If you're pleased to see the Marston House open again, perhaps if you'd like to see – have an event there, if you'd like to see the place open for weddings, give us a call at 1-888-895-5727. I'd like to include Roger Showley in our conversation. He's staff writer at the Union-Tribune and, Roger, as I said, the house closed last February. You and Jeanette Steele wrote an article for the Union-Tribune about the high cost of history, how much cities and nonprofits have to spend in order to maintain historical attractions like the Marston House and the trouble they have finding funds.

SHOWLEY: Yeah, it's a wonderful thing to save these buildings. Obviously, there are many old buildings in San Diego, in any city, and you can only create a few historic houses in any place. They're very expensive to operate and you certainly would prefer to have private owners maintain buildings than to have to be the – on the public or nonprofit organization to run them. So San Diego has about 30 of these in the county and the Marston House, my way of thinking, is the most important of all of them. And it's – not only is it important architecturally but historically in terms of Marston himself and the development of San Diego. So of all the historic houses, it's wonderful that the SOHO has been able to step up and take over from the Historical Society.

CAVANAUGH: What other historic houses or monuments in San Diego are in real trouble?

SHOWLEY: Well the other one that the Historical Society ran was the Villa Montezuma in east of San – east of downtown in Sherman Heights, and it's even older, built in 1887, and it's a wonderful Victorian, over the top, mansion. And the Historical Society acquired it in the early 1970s and operated it as a house museum before it got the Marston House. But it, too, has been closed by the Society because it can't be run economically and it has even more expenses, deferred maintenance needing to be put in before it can be reopened. I think the trouble with the Villa Montezuma is that it's not in the same setting as the Marston House. It's not in the park, it's on a small lot in Sherman Heights and it doesn't have any historic setting that would attract people on its own. And it was on the trolley tours from Old Town for awhile and sort of the ghost tours and that was pretty successful. But when that stopped, then attendance almost dropped to nothing. So the Villa Montezuma's probably the most endangered and threatened house physically. It could be turned back into something wonderful. Maybe SOHO will be able to take it over or some other group, and I know the City's trying to look into that.

CAVANAUGH: And how is the Serra Museum doing?

SHOWLEY: The Serra Museum is another Historical Society monument that's – that they operate. It's not been closed but it is only used for school groups. And it was built by Marston himself as part of the Presidio Park development in 1929, and it's – People think it's the mission but, of course, it's a 1929 museum. And it's – it has also great potential. The trouble with that is it's up on top of a hill, it's hard to get to, to walk up there. So it remains to be seen how the Historical Society is able to make that a going concern again.

CAVANAUGH: Now when you did your article, "The High Cost of History," did you look at other places outside of Southern California? Is this a problem across the nation? Or is it something that, you know, people say that California doesn't revere its history enough. Is this a problem that is endemic here or…

SHOWLEY: No, no, this is a problem worldwide and, of course, the United States. There are house museums all over, from Mount Vernon to San Francisco to every – Every city in the country practically has a house museum. The trouble is that the house museum as a concept is sort of an old-fashioned idea. You go in and you don't – can't touch anything and you have a little lady, no offense to our guest here, showing you around, saying, don't touch, don't say anything, be quiet, and it's a rather off-putting experience compared to our sound and light media frenzy that you see in anything else so…

CAVANAUGH: Sure, our interactive museums, yeah.

SHOWLEY: Yeah, so the museum – the idea of the house museum, I think, is not working any longer. So from what I gather talking to other places around the country, they face the same thing. Their volunteers aren't available, the expenses are very high, the attraction is rather limited, so it needs a whole new rethinking. And it'll be interesting to see if SOHO can do that as Marston because it could become a model nationally if they are able to turn a static building with nobody living in it into something that's a living, breathing letter to the past, you might say.

CAVANAUGH: I'm going to continue talking with Roger Showley and we going to talk more about Mr. Marston, who, of course, owned the house before it became a museum. And I'm going to continue a conversation also with Bruce Coons and get Pat Kelly into the conversation but we have to take a short break and we will return in just a few moments on These Days here on KPBS.

# # #

CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days in San Diego. We're talking about the reopening of the Marston House Museum in Balboa Park. My guests are Bruce Coons, Executive Director of Save Our Heritage Organization, the organization that's taken over operation of the Marston House. Roger Showley with the U-T, and Pat Kelly, who used to be manager of the Tea Room at the old Marston's Department Store downtown. Roger, the fact that the Historical Society, San Diego Historical Society, had to give up operation of the Marston House is particularly ironic because George Marston was a founder of the Historical Society here. He was also involved in establishing many other things in San Diego, including Balboa Park. Tell us a little bit about him.

SHOWLEY: Well, Marston is – George Marston, George White Marston, is probably San Diego's most important historic figure. There have been many people who have made San Diego what it is today but I think most people who know San Diego history would recognize and acknowledge that Marston was number one. They – In fact, people called him the first citizen of San Diego…

KELLY: Right, right.

SHOWLEY: …in the 1930s and '40s. Just to give a little bio about him, he was born in 1850 in Wisconsin. He moved to San Diego just before he turned 20 in 1870, and was the first clerk at Alonzo Horton's Horton House Hotel where the U.S. Grant Hotel is today.

CAVANAUGH: First clerk, I didn't know that.

SHOWLEY: Yeah, he used to – he dusted off the visitors' backs as they got off their buggies and I guess he did that for a few months. Then in the fall of the year, he worked in the general store and in 1878 formed Marston's Department Store, San Diego's number one department store over the years. I was – I'm old enough to remember going to Marston's Department Store in the 1950s and '60s, and it really was an experience that you don't get even going to Nordstrom's today. Marston himself was a brilliant marketer. He wrote ads for his store. He advertised in the newspaper every day and he'd have lilacs, fresh flowers, every week. He would have beautiful displays in the windows. And so he was a brilliant marketer or merchant, and he was – I call him San Diego's merchant prince because after the turn of the 20th century, he turned his company over to his son to run, and he became a full time philanthropist and a do-gooder and a booster of San Diego in so many ways.

CAVANAUGH: For a time, though, he wanted to be a politician. He ran for mayor, right?

SHOWLEY: Well, he actually was on the city council…

CAVANAUGH: Ah, yes.

SHOWLEY: …for one term in the 1880s.

CAVANAUGH: Uh-huh.

SHOWLEY: And he ran for mayor twice, in 1913 and 1917, and lost both times.

CAVANAUGH: Uh-huh.

SHOWLEY: And my column that I do in the Home Section called "Smokestacks and Geraniums" is named after that famous 1917 campaign where people – his opponents called him Geranium George for being sort of a pro-environmental beauty person, and smokestacks was supposed to be the great thing for industrial development, jobs, and to get San Diego going. So it's a classic battle in San Diego we still have today between development and quality of life.

CAVANAUGH: Interesting.

SHOWLEY: Well, anyway, he didn't – he was a very big believer in planning and parks, so he brought in a couple of planners to San Diego to do – first do Balboa Park and then do San Diego, thinking that we need to have San Diego develop along logical lines not just helter skelter like so many other cities in the United States did. And to some extent, the plans that were drawn in those days have come about. But he also was involved in so many other organizations, the YMCA and the public library and, as I said, parks.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

SHOWLEY: And he just was in everything. His number one beneficence to San Diego was Presidio Park. As Bruce said, it was where the Spanish first set up camp in 1769 and at the turn of the 20th century, we forget that San Diego had been an American settlement for 50 years and they'd kind of buried the Mexican – the Hispanic heritage of San Diego, Americanizing the city. And so a lot of the founding concepts of San Diego were lost and around 1890, 1920, there was this revival of interest in history and heritage, had to do with the 1892 Columbus 400th anniversary and United States 1876 and so there was sort of a history was in the air at that time. And Marston, having come from the east, got a – signed onto that idea and he promoted Presidio Park and said we should save that and make it a Plymouth Rock of the west.

CAVANAUGH: That's interesting. You know, Bruce, I'm wondering, there's so much – the fact that Marston became known as San Diego's first citizen seems to indicate that there was a great deal of affection towards him.

COONS: There was. He was greatly loved by the citizens of San Diego. In fact, on their 50th wedding anniversary, they sent out no invitations but just let it be known that they'd be in the garden in the afternoon. They – Within a period of a couple of hours then over 400 people showed – just showed up to show their affection for the couple.

CAVANAUGH: Four hundred, that's amazing. When was the Marston House donated to San Diego?

COONS: It was donated in the 1970s by Mary Marston. She maintained a life of state until she died in 1906 (sic). She was 106.

SHOWLEY: No, she hadn't – in…

COONS: 1986.

SHOWLEY: In 1986 or '87, yeah.

COONS: '86. Did I say – well, I said something. 1986 is what I meant to say. And then it was opened by the Historical Society in 1990.

CAVANAUGH: And I want to talk with Pat Kelly. She's going to tell us about what it was like to actually work in Marston's Department Store in the Tea Room. But first I want to take this call. Ian is calling from Mission Hills. Good morning, Ian, and welcome to These Days.

IAN (Caller, Mission Hills): Yes, thank you very much. First, I'd like to congratulate Bruce for getting the Marston House reopened. It was a gem I only discovered a few years ago. My question is, Bruce, have you sort of tried to market directly to hotels with tourists so that you can really get the tourists going up to see what is a fabulous part of the history of San Diego? And then second question is, what's happening with Villa Montezuma?

CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you, Ian. So, Bruce?

COONS: Yes, we have and we're planning on doing that. And like I talked about before, is putting together some convention packages too, for spouse packages, and…

CAVANAUGH: That's to bring wives along with their husbands on convention, is that what that…

COONS: Right.

CAVANAUGH: …means? Okay.

COONS: And it's a growing part of the industry. A few years ago, over 81% of the Americans traveling visited heritage and cultural sites. And we believe it's an untapped market. We're also working with the Maritime Museum to market San Diego as a heritage destination.

CAVANAUGH: And it also could mean bringing husbands along with their wives. I don't want to be sexist.

COONS: Yeah, and vice versa.

CAVANAUGH: His – Also, he had a question about Villa Montezuma.

COONS: The City is still trying to decide what they're going to do with the Villa Montezuma. I believe it'll go out for a request for proposals either late this year or early next year.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you. And I want to speak now with Pat Kelly. She used to be manager of the Tea Room restaurant in the old Marston's Department Store. And I also want to encourage anyone who has memories of the Marston Department Store and the Tea Room to give us a call and join the conversation at 1-888-895-5727. So, Pat, tell us. Bring us into the Tea Room. What was it like?

KELLY: Well, the interesting thing about the Tea Room, it actually wasn't a part of the store until 1959, that late.

CAVANAUGH: Aha.

KELLY: And it was the management at that time, and that was Hamilton, decided they needed a tea room. Most of the department stores had it, and it was a magnificent room. They had columns that were covered in beautiful pigskin and the colors were all coordinated. I have a delightful picture of the Tea Room that shows how lovely it was and it had oriental screens all over there. Plus, the food was just fabulous. There was a fresh coconut crème pie that people died for. And I want you to know that we used to order, oh, at least twelve – no, one or two dozen coconuts and we would crack them and there was the storeroom boy who did nothing but crack these coconuts and then we hand peeled them and then had to chop. And it was just sensational.

CAVANAUGH: You know, that was a time when shopping wasn't as frantic as it is now.

KELLY: Right.

CAVANAUGH: People used to go to the store and then take out a long period of time just to relax and go to the Tea Room.

KELLY: And that was part of shopping.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

KELLY: And that was true all over California, in the midwest. And we had many ideas from different department stores and, having a job there, I was able to visit some of these wonderful stores in – even in Dallas, Neiman Marcus and all of those. And we traded ideas because, you know, we weren't in competition with it because there's usually just one or two to a place. But the Marston Tea Room was the place that people wanted to go. And the children loved it, so we had little tea – little sandwiches they could eat and they thought that was really – it was an event.

CAVANAUGH: Did you have music there?

KELLY: Not particularly. There was just such a buzz looking around.

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

KELLY: There – And they modeled the fashions…

CAVANAUGH: Oh, really?

KELLY: …all during – Oh, yes. And they had an interesting thing. They had models that were small, medium and large. And very few stores did that, especially the large. But we had a lady that was – and everybody was so proud of her and she always looked so elegant. And she was a very large size.

SHOWLEY: Well, I was old enough or young enough to go to the Marston Department Store and the Tea Room when I was in – a youngster in the 1950s. My grandmother would take me there and we’d have the children's menu.

KELLY: Yeah.

SHOWLEY: It was a little coloring thing you could…

KELLY: And crayons.

SHOWLEY: …crayons, you could draw on this little menu.

KELLY: And they were taped onto the menu and you took the crayons off, just three.

SHOWLEY: And it was – people were, as you say, a little bit more slower paced and you had to dress up to go downtown. It was – you didn't go in shorts and flip-flops in those days. And it was a real outing to go to Marston's and people today don't remember what old department stores were like in – in – They're now in shopping centers, you know, and you don't spend hours just wandering around, looking at things. It was a different experience but it's worth remembering that Marston's was the place to go in that time. So, it was – it was…

KELLY: And it was an event. Now, if you were going to the dentist, you can say, and then we will go to Marston's.

CAVANAUGH: Make you feel better, right?

KELLY: Right.

CAVANAUGH: Get you to go in the first place.

KELLY: And then I'd like to talk about the flowers.

CAVANAUGH: Please do.

KELLY: Particularly the lilacs in the spring. And those lilacs came from the area around Julian and they were delivered, armloads of lilacs, on Monday morning and we spent a great deal of time breaking it down and putting them in little vases. And, again, on Thursday morning, so we had fresh lilacs all during that time. But during the rest of the year, we would have seasonal flowers and that was part of the – the thrill of the room.

CAVANAUGH: So the whole experience, the smell of lilacs and the food and the ambience.

KELLY: Uh-huh, and then the models. And then in the afternoon, we would break it down and have tea and just simple desserts and little tea sandwiches.

SHOWLEY: And it was – You have to remember, too, that in those days it was sort of a sexist society. The men would go to the U.S. Grant Grill – Grant Grill…

KELLY: For…

SHOWLEY: …for dinner – for lunch.

KELLY: …lunch. Uh-huh.

SHOWLEY: It wasn't open to women until after 2:30. They'd have their beef and their heavy meals, and then the ladies would take – would go to the Marston's for light lunches. And Marston's, especially, popularized the idea of salad for lunch. That wasn't a normal thing but they came up with the – what was it called?

KELLY: The…

SHOWLEY: The Pacific Paragon?

KELLY: Oh, the Pacific Paragon.

SHOWLEY: A sandwich which was a salad on bread.

CAVANAUGH: That's interesting.

SHOWLEY: So people forget that things were – well, they were obviously were different 50 years ago and Marston's filled a gap. The ladies would go downtown. There was nowhere for them to go that was fun and pleasant and Marston's opened and it was a big hit from the beginning.

CAVANAUGH: I wonder, Pat, what was the rest of the department store like?

KELLY: It was very nice. There was a wonderful children's shop and then there was a men's store and just had everything. The thing that impressed me so much when I first started there, was there were so many Navy families who were, you know, then reassigned other places that they had a lovely lady, and I think her – her first name was Mary. She did nothing but handle the mail and they would write to her and ask for the – like for the children's underwear and that sort of thing. They might be living in Japan or in Hawaii and so it – you – it was a family thing.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, that's – And how does it compare to the department stores that we see today? Was it, in a sense, less crowded? Was it more spacious?

KELLY: Well, it could be very crowded during the Christmastime.

CAVANAUGH: I don't mean with people, I mean with stuff.

KELLY: With stuff, pretty much so.

CAVANAUGH: Umm.

KELLY: They would have a lot of things but it was – but there were places. In fact, on the second floor with the ladies restroom, they had planned to have a tea room there, I understood later on, they explained it. And – But they felt that that was too much space to do for that so – but there were chairs where you could sit so, you know, if you spent all day, which many people did…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

KELLY: …they needed a place to sit down.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Bruce, let me ask you, have you been in San Diego long enough to have memories of the Marston Department Store?

COONS: Very early memories. We moved here when I was four years old, in 1958, and I remember some more of the satellite stores out at Grossmont…

KELLY: Right.

COONS: …a little more than downtown.

KELLY: Sure.

COONS: Though we still went downtown and we went to Marston's and Thearle's and some of the other stores, I remember.

CAVANAUGH: What happened to the downtown Marston's store?

SHOWLEY: Well, it was – I'll take you up to date on what happened. It was sold, the Marston Company was sold to the Broad – Carter Hawley Hale in 1961. They're the one – the operators of the Broadway. And then it operated as the Marston's until 1969 when they moved. They opened a Broadway in Fashion Valley and the building was demolished, and in its place is a office building, the Golden West Insurance Company building, between 5th and 6th on B.

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

SHOWLEY: And there actually is another Marston's – There are a couple of other older Marston's stores still up. There's one one block to the west.

KELLY: The early, early one.

SHOWLEY: The early one, the 1890 building. And there were two or three in the Gaslamp Quarter.

CAVANAUGH: Interesting. Do you ever think of putting in a Tea Room maybe in the Marston House Museum?

COONS: Well, we are planning on having teas to try to bring back a little bit of the old time flavor with the Marston's House. And I know Pat's going to be helping us out with that.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, that's terrific.

KELLY: Oh, people, they're so romantic about it. And there's such nostalgia and you'll meet people that were – never saw the store but they sure wish they had.

CAVANAUGH: Let me take a call. Lucy is calling from Encanto. Good morning, Lucy. Welcome to These Days.

LUCY (Caller, Encanto): Good morning. Really enjoying the program. I was born in '53 but I do remember going to Marston Department Store downtown. My mother bought a beautiful dress for my oldest sister's wedding in '59 there, a beautiful gold dress. But, you know what, I have a wonderful memory to share with you because my grandfather was a gardener for the Marstons in the 1930s.

CAVANAUGH: Oh.

LUCY: And his name was John Price and he passed away before I was born but my father has really wonderful memories of my grandfather going to work.

CAVANAUGH: And did he enjoy working there?

LUCY: Yes, he did. Yes, he did. And he was – he was much older. He was probably already well into his sixties at that time when he was working there and work was so hard to find during the Depression. But I do know that it was considered just an absolutely incredible, beautiful place to work for a gardener.

CAVANAUGH: Lucy, thank you so much for calling and sharing that memory with us. I'm afraid we're going to have to wrap this up. We're…

KELLY: Oh, gosh.

CAVANAUGH: …out of town (sic). Out of time, that is. Bruce Coons, Executive Director of Save Our Heritage Organization, good luck with running the Marston House Museum.

COONS: Well, thank you, and I enjoyed being here.

CAVANAUGH: Roger Showley is staff writer with the Union-Tribune. Thank you for being here.

SHOWLEY: You're perfectly welcome.

CAVANAUGH: And Pat Kelly, former manager of the Tea Room restaurant in the old Marston's Department Store, perhaps future manager of the Tea Room at the Marston House Museum.

KELLY: Well, I'll be a – a good customer.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you all so much for being here. You know, after talking about the Marston store, coming up, we're going to be talking about some famous retail stores that are still with us across the country. We are talking about retail superstores. That's coming up on These Days as we continue here on KPBS.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Bibi'

Bibi | August 11, 2009 at 10:35 a.m. ― 5 years ago

To Pat Kelly:

Is it possible to obtain the coconut pie recipe from Marston's? I remember it well once Marston's became The Broadway. My mother & I would go to either Marston's or The Broadway for lunch and we always saved room for this pie!

Thank you,

Bibi
San Diego

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Pat Finn'

Pat Finn, KPBS Staff | August 13, 2009 at 10:50 a.m. ― 5 years ago

I'm working on it. I have to contact Pat Kelly directly by phone, and so far I've unsuccessful.

Pat Finn
Producer
These Days

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Avatar for user 'Thwinger'

Thwinger | July 1, 2010 at 2:50 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

Pat,
I'm with Bibi, I had the recipe for said pie but i have lost it and really want it back. I remember it being in the Union-Tribune in the 60s or early 70s. I was wondering if you had been in contact with Pat Kelly in the year this thread has been going on. Hopefully so.

Susan
Reno, NV

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