Pretoria Image: 2014 – San Diego – Balboa Park – Casa del Prado

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Union Buildings
Image by Ted’s photos – Returns Late September
Balboa Park, site of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, has many ornate buildings remaining and restored for a variety of other uses today. Casa Del Prado shows typical design features.

On December 21, 1977, the National Park Service certified Balboa Park as a national historic site, and assigned it the reference number 77000331.

Casa del Prado or Casa in Balbo Park is a reconstruction of a previous building that existed during the 1915 Pan American Exhibition. This Spanish Colonial building looks grand from the outside, is more ordinary in the interior setting, which is kind of a let down for those expecting the theme to continue to its inner space.

Who would know that something so lovely is a reproduction of an original building design? It doesn’t really matter because, when you visit Balboa Park, the complex looks so beautiful and pristine, you just fall in love with the ambience of this huge community park that greets San Diegans and huge numbers of tourists with its many museums, gardens, art exhibits, cafes and restaurants. Del Prado is one of the shining glories of San Diego.

As you wander along a section of the massive Balboa Park building complexes, you come to this building near the Visitors Center.

Casa del Prado was known as the Varied Industries and Food Products Building in 1915. Then it became the Food and Beverage Building in 1935 and now it is called Casa del Prado. Costing just under 0K when first built, it was desingned by Ahitect Carleton M. Winslow and included north and south wings. A sumptuously decorated entrance with Spanish-Colonial baroque garland columns, a centrifugal quatrefoil window and a climatic gable on the east facade flanked on both sides by towers with open belfries and blue and yellow tiled domes gave the appearance of the entry way to a European church. The bishop in a medallion above the central door and a cross in a starburst medallion above the quatrefoil window further promoted the concept of a holy building. While the bishop was removed, the cross has remained along with the addition of fruits, vegetables, Neptune faces, cherubs and bunches of grapes and other items. "Citizen Kane," director Orson Welles used the east facade of the Varied Industries and Food Products Building to demonstrate Kane’s passion for acquiring exotic objects.

San Diegans wanted to keep as many of the buildings as they could after the 1915 exhibit, but Varied Industries and Food Products and the Commerce and Industries Buildings were selected for removal from the space. But the war came along and most of Balboa Park was used to house soldiers. Varied Industries and Food Products Building fell into disrepair but found an injection of capital after WWII. In 1968 voters approved Proposition M calling for a bonded indebtedness of ,500,000 to construct a replacement for the Food and Beverage Building and other facilities. Rechristened as Casa del Prado in 1971, it has served as a meetings space for Garden Foundation and the San Diego Floral Society groups that occupy permanent rooms. The general public can attend floral exhibits in the exhibit hall at the east end of the south building. They can also rent assembly rooms in the south building whenever designated groups are not using them. The outdoor patio is used for major park events. It was the site of a chess tournament during the "Treasures of the Soviet Union" festival in the summer of 1989. When wandering by on most days, as you wonder what’s behind those doors of the palatial looking edifice but, you now know that it is just ordinary rooms by most standards, and quite unlike the outside decoration that entices guests to take pictures.

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About Alan

My ethos is espoused in the words of Nelson Mandela: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society. If need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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