Roy and Dora Bennett House, 1923 Colonial Revival

Built by the Great Western Building Company, 1923

Demolished by Greed, 2008

HERE then are a few words about a house that I love; with a reasonable love I think: for though my words may give you no idea of any special charm about it, yet I assure you that the charm is there; so much has the old house grown up out of the soil and the lives of those that lived on it; needing no grand office-architect, with no great longing for anything else than correctness, and to be like Julius Caesar; but some thin thread of tradition, a half-anxious sense of the delight of the meadow and acre and wood and river; a certain amount (not too much let us hope) of common sense, a liking for making materials serve ones turn, and perhaps at bottom some little grain of sentiment. This I think was what went to the making of the old house; might we not manage to find some sympathy for all that from henceforward; or must we but shrink before the Philistine with one, Alas that it must perish!

-          William Morris, Kelmscott, October 25, 1895.

For anyone with time of your hands and a bent for historical research, please check out the history of the little house at 4166 Adams Avenue.  It may not look like much, but it was an excellent example of a small Colonial Revival cottage from the Better Homes in America Movement.  New Yorkers Roy and Dora Bennett moved to San Diego and commissioned 4166 Adams Avenue as their dream home during the height of the Better Homes Movement. They hired a new building firm, the Great Western Building Company, which was formed by some of San Diego’s most prominent developers of the day. They completed the house and filed the Notice of Completion in December, 1923. The Great Western Building Company built other homes in Kensington that still exist today. In fact, the president of the company, Fred C. Martin, lived only a couple blocks away at 4756 Kensington Drive!

Recommended by the staff of the Historical Resources Board for historical preservation for its architectural significance, this house was demolished on April 24, 2008.  At the very least this house should have been relocated to another site and preserved, not demolished.

The Planning Commission ignored the November 14, 2007, Memorandum, Office of the City Attorney regarding the status of this house under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The California Appellate Court has directed in League for the Protection of Oakland and Historical Resources v. City of Oakland that demolition of historic resources requires the City of San Diego to prepare an Environmental Impact Report. The City Attorney failed to explain how Appellate Court decision, Architectural Heritage Association v. County of Monterey, 122 Cal. App. 4th 1095, changed the CEQA Guidelines to clearly state that a building more than 50 years of age need not be listed on a local, state, or federal register to qualify as CEQA significant. In this “Monterey Jail” case, the Court also directed that an EIR needs to be prepared when demolition of a CEQA significant building is proposed.

During the February 5th City Council hearing, Toni Atkins asked the developers to allow someone to move the house to another location instead of demolishing it.  The developers claimed they would wait 60 days for someone to come forward to claim the house.  Yet they immediately applied for a demolition permit and made no attempt to advertise the availability of the house to the general public.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  - George Santayana, The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress: Reason in Common Sense, 1905