Thursday, May 23, 2024

2024 GEM Award Finalist: 1135 Loma Avenue

Built in 1898, the two-story Craftsman house at 1135 Loma Avenue remained essentially unchanged for 120 years. The latest homeowners have recently renovated the home, painstakingly restoring the exterior to its original splendor while updating and opening up the interior with respect to its rich past.

The first occupants were Kate and Julier Hizar. He served as Coronado’s city attorney from July 15, 1895, to May 17, 1918, and from Nov. 19, 1923, to April 16, 1928. Julier came to Coronado with his parents, John and Anna Hizar. They reopened the shuttered Hotel Josephine between Third and Fourth streets on Orange Avenue, which was built in 1887 at the same time and by the same architect as the Hotel del Coronado. During their ownership, the hotel reportedly became the social hotspot for young people in Coronado. 

Julier Hizar also had a private practice with Henry E. Mills for 14 years and served in the Naval Militia of California as an ensign and paymaster. Kate, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, died at age 50 in in 1926. In 1929, Julier married Alice Herring, a world traveler, who furnished the home with items from her visits to Asia. After Juliar died in 1946, Alice converted the house into a duplex in 1949. It is not known when the house was restored into a single-family residence. 

After Alice’s death in 1968, the Hizar estate sold the house to Ruth Reynolds Murray later that year, according to reports. Murray was a concert singer who studied voice in France, Germany, and Italy as well as New York. She made her soloist debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and performed in San Diego and New York. She was also a founding member of the San Diego Civic Light Opera at the Starlight Bowl.

Murray owned the home for only a short time, selling it to Carl and Evelyn Jennings in 1971.

For years, Jennings was known in Coronado as the Rev. Carl Jennings, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Coronado. Jennings studied at USC and originally wanted to become a dentist. He was called to active duty to serve in the Korean War as a surgeon’s assistant with National Guard Medical Service Corps. He was in Korea for six months in 1952, narrowly escaping with his life on multiple occasions. His experience there inspired him to enter the ministry. He went back to USC, majoring in English literature, and then enrolled in the California Baptist Theological Seminary in Corvina. He graduated and was ordained in 1957. A year earlier, he married his childhood sweetheart, Evelyn Nelson.

Jennings served at numerous Baptist churches in California, as well as the Baptist Church of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, before settling in Coronado, attending to hundreds of weddings, funerals, and baptisms during his tenure here.

Evelyn’s mother came to live at Loma Avenue in 1981. For a while, after Evelyn’s death in 1987, four generations lived at the home: Ester Nelson, Evelyn’s mother; Carl Jennings; and the family of Jennings’ son, Timothy, which included Timothy’s wife, Peyton, and son Brock. 

Carl Jennings, who remarried to Marie Armstrong, lived in the house until his death at age 91 in January 2020. He left the ministry later in life and became a Prudential Life Insurance agent. In 1995, he retired from the Army reserves as chaplain with the rank of colonel.

The stately home, with clapboard siding and a hipped roof, was declared a historic landmark by the Coronado Historical Association in 1988 and was dedicated historic by the city of Coronado in 2007.

During a 1980s kitchen remodel, Jennings found a Los Angeles Herald in the wall dating from June 29, 1898, when the Spanish-American War was making front-page headlines. The Jennings family framed the newspaper, and it was given to the current owners by Tim Jennings.

The owners, who had been looking to buy a house in Coronado for years, were drawn to the home for its historic value, its location on a street with many historic homes, and the large front porch that spans the entire front façade. Working with architect Kim Grant, they kept as much of the outside original as possible, replacing only what was necessary. Old glass was used for windowpanes that needed to be replaced, and the chimney was rebuilt to match the original specifications. The owners also rebuilt the deteriorating porch rails with the same type of woodwork. They discovered the original hardware for the front door in the home, restored it, and it’s now back on the door.

Steel beams were inserted to open the interior for an updated floorplan. But it’s the porch where the owners like to spend time. That’s where they added another plaque to the two historic dedications. The inscription, taken from “Mary Poppins,” describes the home: “practically perfect in every way.”

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In honor of the 10th Anniversary of the GEM Awards, the Coronado Historical Association is pleased to announce that there is a prodigious group of ten finalists for this year’s award, the largest group of finalists in the awards history. This year’s finalists include historic properties at: 1026 Flora Avenue, 1045 Loma Avenue, 1135 Loma Ave, 1315/1319 5th Street, 275 J Avenue, 350 D Avenue, 519 Ocean Boulevard, 520 J Avenue, 870 H Avenue, and 874 A Avenue. 

Established in 2013, the GEM Awards have become a tradition in recognizing homeowners who retain and maintain Coronado’s unique character. By choosing renovation over replacement, homeowners are celebrated for their unwavering commitment to preserving the island’s architectural history and fostering connections to the past. These awards serve as a public acknowledgment of their dedication to the past. This year’s Awards Ceremony, where the winners will be announced, will be held on Wednesday, April 3rd at 5:30 pm at the City’s Nautilus Room. Tickets can be purchased on CHA’s website or by calling 619-435-7242.

To delve into the remarkable preservation efforts undertaken by the nominees, CHA is spotlighting the history of each home.



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