La Mesa's history can be traced through its varied and well-preserved architectural record. Surviving examples of early buildings represent a number of recognizable styles typical of southern California. The settlement of La Mesa began in earnest in the late 1800s, evidenced by growth in the local citrus industry and the layout of some of the City's earliest subdivisions. From this early era, examples of the late Victorian period include the Albert W. Gray House at 8045 Culowee Street (1891) and the La Mesa Depot at 4695 Nebo Drive (1894). Built in 1910, the Robertson House (pictured above) is an example of Craftsman-style architecture. The home remains largely unchanged today.
After the turn of the 20th century, a
building boom within newly created subdivisions such as Grable's
Addition and Park's Addition was marked by the proliferation of
California bungalows. These were typically executed in the popular
Craftsman style and can be found in abundance in the Date Avenue
Historic District. The Craftsman bungalow was the residential
architectural style of choice through about 1930.
A closer look reveals the existence
of a varied range of historic styles scattered throughout the
city. There are a few notable Prairie structures of the style
popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1920s. Several
distinctive California Stick style residences are located in the
Mt. Helix area, and commercial examples of Art Deco and Art
Moderne can be seen in downtown La Mesa. The Tudor style,
distinguished by steeply pitched roofs and decorative
half-timbering, is also found here. One noteworthy Tudor example
is the Clifford Sawyer House at 4420 Merritt Boulevard (1929).
All told, there are over 250 pre-1940 structures representing over a dozen distinct architectural styles in La Mesa. Many of these are largely unmodified structures in excellent condition, resulting in a varied and well-preserved inventory.
La Mesa Historical Society
P.O. Box 882
La Mesa, CA. 91944
8369 University Ave.
La Mesa, CA. 91941
Open 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month, 1-4