The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Summer 1993, Volume 39, Number 3
Richard W. Crawford, Editor

Burlingame

The Tract of Character 1912-1914

By Donald Covington
Winner of the Tarasuck-Foley Award for Architects and Architecture
in the 1993 San Diego Historical Society Institute of History.

Photographs from this article

From the level acres of Burlingame, the eye sweeps over a wonderful panorama. In the foreground lies the park, its mesas and canyons soon to be covered with exposition buildings. Beyond, the silver sheen of the bay meets the white strip of sand that separates it from the blue Pacific. Far out at sea the Coronados Islands rise out of the blue depths. Point Loma is sharply outlined against the background of the heaving sea. To the south, far along the reaches of the bay, lies the city. Into the blue distances of Mexico sweeps the eye over valleys, canyons and mesas. To the east, the frowning Cuyamacas, their peaks covered with snow in the winter, supply a fitting frame for the picture...At night the lights of the city gleam below in silent splendor, and the shipping leaves luminous streaks on the bay's inky water.1

On Saturday, January 13, 1912, McFadden & Buxton opened the Burlingame tract for public inspection. On that first week-end, thirty-four lots were sold, twenty percent of the total.2 Burlingame was a land development scheme of the partnership of two realtors, Joseph McFadden and George Buxton, working with a syndicate of San Diego businessmen which included Edward Strahlmann, Edmund Mayer and Frank Batterton.3

The Burlingame Syndicate had purchased forty acres on Rufus Choate's Brooklyn Heights during the final week of October, 1911.4 Throughout the following December and January, forty-one men and scores of mule teams labored to grade the streets with crushed granite and generally to improve property in the tract (Plate 1). Late in January, the distinctive red curbs, crosswalks and sidewalks were laid thereby paving the way for the beginning of residential construction.5

McFadden & Buxton, as a partnership in real estate development, existed for two years from October 1911 to October 1913. In that brief time, "The Systems Firm", as they called it, developed several of the most significant tracts in the northeast section of the city including West End in 1911, and North Park in 1913 (Plate 2). None of those developments, however, equaled the Burlingame tract in the unique character of its architecture and that of its clustered site development.

The concept of the Systems Firm was as modern as the new century. The firm was organized as a network of thirty specialists coordinating their individual expertise for the singular purpose of promoting a product.6 That product was an integrated and complete suburban community of highly diverse dwellings unified by an infrastructure of the most advanced quality.

Sophisticated marketing was a promotional sales tool of the firm. The local press was extensively used to dramatically portray each new McFadden & Buxton enterprise and escapade. The opening of each new tract was heralded by half-page essays detailing the exclusive advantages proposed for the firm's latest environmental experiment. The sale of properties to those outside of California was promoted through the new cinematic medium. A two-reel film which portrayed the contemporary building projects in the city and its suburbs was produced in May of 1913.7 For six weeks that summer, George Buxton presented a series of illustrated public lectures throughout Arizona and New Mexico.8

In between the introduction and promotion of new tracts, local public attention was held by sensational feats as varied as the awarding of trophies at motorcycle races in Sweetwater and the sponsorship of the dare-devil driver Joe Fernando (Plate 3) in the great San Diego to Phoenix motor car race of October, 1912.9 The spectacular May, 1913 opening of the McFadden & Buxton Arcade,10 a downtown commercial center, included an orchestra which played daily on the mezzanine and evening vaudeville acts by entertainers currently working the Pantages circuit.11

Advertising literature for Burlingame identified it as the Tract of Character largely due to the physical qualities of the natural terrain.12 It was described as especially attractive for its "high and dry" site which escaped damp fogs and allowed sweeping views of mountains and the ocean. Burlingame was laid out on a high plateau of land immediately to the east of Balboa Park, south of Switzer Canyon and west of the historic boundary between Pueblo and Mission lands. Views of 360-degrees from the tract encompassed mountains to the east, the bay and the Coronados islands to the south, Switzer Canyon to the north, and to the west, the site of the Panama-California Exposition where the Spanish Colonial style buildings and lush landscaping were currently being developed.

The opening of Burlingame coincided with the peak of the biggest building boom in San Diego since the late 1880's. Sales and construction were brisk in the first year with many homes being built for newcomers to California. In the ten years following the opening of the tract, Burlingame became a showcase of diverse architectural fantasies. Artificial developments which gave character to the tract were streets contoured to the shape of the canyon's rim and paved with decomposed granite; concrete sidewalks and crosswalks tinted dull red; cast iron street lamps with arc lights and underground conduit; ornamental gates and a promised, fully equipped children's canyon playground.

McFadden & Buxton's Systems Firm was one of those dynamic and innovative businesses which suddenly blossomed in San Diego during the period just prior to the opening of the Panama Canal. Between 1910 and 1914, economic expansion and population growth of the hitherto small port city was phenomenal. During that era, the energetic and aggressive character of the city attracted many adventurous young builders and architectural designers, who took part in McFadden & Buxton's development of Burlingame.

Chief among the many architects and builders who designed distinctive homes for Burlingame was William Henry Wheeler. Wheeler was born to English parents in Australia on January 9, 1872. In Melbourne, he was apprenticed to an architectural firm for three years at the end of which time he moved to North America as the travelling correspondent of a South Pacific architectural society and journal. Following a brief residency in Canada, he emigrated in 1898 to San Francisco where he became a citizen of the United States in 1900. At the University of California at Berkeley, he studied Engineering and in 1906 he was certified as an architect by the State.13 Wheeler left San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and moved with his wife and two sons to Arizona as the chief architectural engineer for the Southern Pacific Railway in the southwestern United States and Mexico. His travels in Mexico significantly affected his aesthetic awareness. About Mexican and Spanish-American art and architecture, he later remarked "to my trained sense of observance for proportion, form of detail, color and harmonious treatment...the treasures to be found in this land of romance were a revelation."14

After the death of his first wife, Wheeler moved to San Diego where in 1912 he became associated with Joseph McFadden and George Buxton as they were beginning their development of the Burlingame tract. In May of 1912, it was announced that Wheeler had assumed supervision of the building department for McFadden & Buxton's System Firm.15 One year later, when the firm moved into the newly renovated Arcade Building, Wheeler was the Supervisor of the architectural department.

Several other prominent architects and builders played significant if less prolific roles in the building of Burlingame. One such builder from the San Francisco Bay area was Erwin D. Norris. It was he who purchased the first lot on January 15, 1912 and promptly ordered the lumber for an $8000, 10-room house to be constructed at 3170 Maple (Block L, Lot 14.) By early March, the house had begun to take the shape typical of eastern Craftsman style houses with a full basement and a second floor under a steep roof which sloped toward the street.16 Across the front of the house was a full veranda sheltering a symmetrical facade.

In March 1912, as the Norris house was being completed, two other houses of entirely different architectural character were begun. The first of the two was another builder's design. Archibald McCorkle's house at 3048 Laurel Street (Block I, Lot 19), was an unusual mixture of styles.17 The design was a modified Spanish Revival building which combined the bracketed deep eaves and twin pergolas of the Craftsman style with elements of secular Mediterranean structures. Unique features of the plastered exterior were tower-like pillars supporting the corners of a parapet facade, and the gate-house entry porch. These features echoed Spanish fortress architecture and were combined with a flat, broken-arched, street elevation.

The third house to be started in Burlingame was one of William Wheeler's first assignments for McFadden and Buxton's Systems Firm. The house was one of four designed for properties purchased by Mary Rhinehart. Mrs. Rhinehart, a widow from Grand Junction, Colorado, had recently arrived in San Diego accompanied by a son and daughter. Earl Rhinehart, her son, was a principal in the McFadden & Buxton company, employed as Superintendent of the Building Department in the Systems Firm.

The house at 3128 Laurel (Block J, Lot 8), one of several tower houses built in the tract during the first year, was a speculation house for Mrs. Rhinehart.18 Designed to take advantage of the 360-degree view, its most prominent feature was the mirador tower with a strip of casement windows on each of the four walls. (Plate 6) From the tower could be seen the mountains, the bay, Point Loma, Coronado and, across Switzer Canyon, the new construction of the buildings along the Prado being readied for the Panama-California Exposition. The bungalow, of plastered exterior and red tile roof, was said to be of "Moorish design"19 and was estimated to cost $4500. It was advertised January 1, 1913 for $7000.20

In all, Mary Rhinehart purchased seven lots in the tract and had two of Wheeler's four plans built by McFadden and Buxton. The second was planned to be her own home at 2447 Dulzura (Block D, Lot 3). The house had its roots in British home building tradition. Different from the traditional Arts and Crafts style which Wheeler had used on the house at 3055 Kalmia, it reflected a yeoman's cottage style often seen in early American designs. The form of the Dulzura house is a transition in Wheeler's work from the traditional "old English" style of the Kalmia house to the more modern Swiss chalet style which he used on the house at 2457 Capitan.

The exterior of the Rhinehart house on Dulzura (Plate 7) originally was sheathed with clapboard siding to the base of the second story which was plastered. A strong wooden structure was implied by the heavily bracketed deep eaves of the roof. Across the front of the house, a wooden pergola supported by massive columns of clinker brick extended beyond the south side of the house as a porte-cochere over the driveway to the garage. Promotional sales literature described the interior as getting "plenty of sunshine through its many windows. The living room ... is bright and warm all day, while the morning sun pours through the French doors of the breakfast room."21 A feature similar to that of many of the Wheeler houses was the flexible arrangement of spaces to allow either openness or isolation. "The front door does not open into the living room, allowing the guest to step awkwardly into an intimate family scene -- the attractive paneled hallway prevents that. There is privacy at table, too, for the dining room is across the hall from the living room and may be cut off with sliding doors."22

The house on Dulzura, begun in June 1912, was never occupied by Mrs. Rhinehart as she acquired the Gordon Arms Apartment house at Kalmia and Second streets where she became the resident proprietor. The Dulzura house was put on the market in January 1913 for $7500.23 In October 1913, due to the current depression in the real estate market, the house was reduced to $6500.24 In November, Mary Rhinehart commissioned Lillian Jackson to sell all of her San Diego properties. The seven properties including two houses and one apartment house were sold in December for $24,500. At the same time, Mrs. Rhinehart bought a 200-acre ranch in Bradley Springs.25

By early April, 1912, there were nine houses under construction in the Burlingame tract.26 The varied architectural styles of those houses included the traditional Arts and Crafts, the more modern California Craftsman bungalow, the simplified Mission Revival and the avant-garde Churrigueresque version of Spanish Revival. The latter, baroque style was currently being featured in the new pavilions under construction in Balboa Park across the canyon.

The sculptural fantasies of the Churrigueresque style were slowly replacing the severity of the earlier Mission Revival style favored locally by "modern" architects such as Irving Gill. The baroque Mexican style that became an extravagant hallmark of the 1915 Exposition became one of the most popular Mediterranean styles on the Pacific coast after World War One. It emerged in some San Diego residences, however, well before the Exposition. An example of the Churrigueresque style in Burlingame is dramatically presented in the exterior of the house at 2525 San Marcos (Block I, Lot 5) built during the summer of 1912 by Charles C. Swift of the construction firm, Swift and Hawkins.27 A baroque sub-style of Spanish Revival architecture, Churrigueresque featured elaborate, complex curves and dramatic, sculptured stucco details on exteriors. (Plate 8)

For many years, 2525 San Marcos, with its baroque parapet walls and Moorish details, was the most avant-garde house in the tract. These Mediterranean details on the exterior, however, enclosed interior spaces which were purely Craftsman in the style of open planning. Reception hall, living room and dining room were lightly screened from one another by transparent French doors, glass-front cabinets and columnade. The living room fireplace and the dining room buffet were unique in their rough brick construction.

The flamboyant details of this house may explain the fact that it remained in the hands of the Burlingame Syndicate for several years after its completion. Although the more conventional Mediterranean style houses in the tract sold immediately, the house at 2525 San Marcos remained a rental until it was purchased in 1920 by Charles Crouch, an attorney and local real estate investor originally from Iowa. By that time, the style had ceased to be controversial and in the next decade seemed meek compared to the elaborately sculptured decorations of the stucco villas which proliferated throughout the city.

A classic example of the California Craftsman bungalow is the small shingled house with low sloping roof at 2414 Dulzura. The house was built by McFadden & Buxton to the designs of architect Earl Josef Brenk under a permit issued in May, 1912 to Mrs. Edwin E. Tullis.28 Mrs. Tullis, who had the house built on speculation, sold it in September to Sterling and Eleanor Smith of Bisbee, Arizona.29 Sterling Smith, paymaster for Calumet and Arizona Mining Company, intended to retire to Burlingame. Once in residence, however, Smith became part of the Systems Firm as supervisor of one of the sales districts.

Earl Brenk resigned his position as the building inspector for the community of Monrovia, Los Angeles County, in December 1911 in order to seek his fortune in San Diego, "a young man's town,"30 which he declared to have a great future. He was immediately drawn to the construction activity in the suburbs east of Balboa Park and designed two of the earliest California Craftsman bungalows in Burlingame for the Systems Firm.

Earl Brenk's early career in the vicinity of Pasadena brought him into contact with the work of architects such as the Greene Brothers, Arthur Benton and Arthur Kelly who were defining the California bungalow style in the first decade of the century. Brenk's house for Mrs. Tullis on Dulzura and the one which he designed for O. Walter Strange31 at 2431 Capitan (Block E, Lot 7) were both faithful representatives of that bungalow style with the low sloping roof and wide overhanging eaves.32 Both of the Brenk houses were sheathed with shakes and had contrasting white asbestos roofs. Each, a classic example of the Swiss chalet style, emphasized structure by extending open pergolas out over side driveways.

The Tullis house contained "a number of new features included in which is the design of the front porch roof. With wide overhanging eaves, it will be suspended with heavy chains attached to large brackets on the side of the building."33 The interior of the house had seven rooms. The living and dining rooms opened to one another through "colonial" screens. Built-in features included beam ceilings and book cases in the living room and a buffet in the dining room. One of the three bedrooms had an attached, screened sleeping porch.

The service portion of the Tullis house included a "cabinet" kitchen, a butler's pantry and a screen porch with laundry trays. True to Craftsman traditions, the principal rooms were stained in soft shades of grey, green and brown while service rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms were enameled in white.

One of the most extravagant Craftsman styled houses designed by William Wheeler was erected at 2457 Capitan (Block E, Lot 4) by McFadden & Buxton in the summer of 1912. The house was described as being of the "Swiss Chalet" type with eaves five and one-half foot deep, heavy re-sawn timbers stained in dark moss green and rustic shakes dipped in brown stained oil.34

The interiors of the principal rooms were planned to be panelled in curly birch finished with twelve coats of varnish and rubbed with pumice stone and oil. The living room and dining room were well furnished with built-in seats, buffet, china cabinets, bookcases, and mantel shelves. Floors were quarter-sawn oak laid in log cabin style. Special decorative features included stencils and free-hand paintings by the artist Evan McLennan. When the house was completed in mid-summer, it was declared to be one of the most attractive homes in San Diego and was celebrated with a public opening.

On January 1, 1913, the house was advertised for sale by McFadden & Buxton for $7,500.35 On February 8, it was purchased by Edgar E. Hendee, an attorney and former senator of Indiana, who moved to San Diego to join as a partner the law firm headed by A. J. Morganstern.36 Mr. Hendee was president of the Indiana Club and in that voluntary role welcomed many Indiana visitors to the 1915 Exposition. The house was sold again in 1920 to Clair Stealy, a young physician from Michigan, who later opened a medical clinic in the business community of North Park.

In early April, 1912, McFadden and Buxton sold the first of ten lots to Mr. A. B. McIntyre of Seattle, Washington.37 One month later, he purchased the remaining nine lots on Block B on the south side of Kalmia Street for $14,750.38 McIntyre, a well known building contractor in Seattle, with his five sons had recently completed 200 fashionable dwellings in the Capitol Hill section of that city. His brief visit to San Diego in 1912 convinced him that Burlingame would become the city's foremost new residential tract.

The first of the Kalmia Street houses designed by Wheeler and constructed by the McIntyre group was at 3171 (Block B, Lot 8). The building, when completed, became the McIntyre residence while the other nine houses were under construction.39 The house, an austere, two-story Mission Revival structure with third-story mirador tower room, probably reflects Wheeler's budding fascination with Spanish Colonial architecture. The form of the house is an eccentric mix of exaggerated Mission Revival with overtones of Cubist Style. It is crowned by a third story tower room similar to the Rhinehart house on Laurel Street.

By the first of January, 1913, the ten Kalmia houses were virtually completed although notices of completion were not filed until May.40 In February and March 1913, numerable liens against the properties were filed by lenders and subcontractors who were not paid by the McIntyres for their services.41

Arthur McIntyre had fallen upon hard times soon after his major investment in real estate in San Diego. The national ecomomic depression of the summer of 1913 caused a general slump in real estate values aggravating McIntyre's own financial dilemma. After settling the claims of suppliers and artisans, he eagerly sold most of the row of Kalmia Street houses to Percival Benbough, a member of the San Diego Common Council and proprietor of a local haberdashery. In early November 1913, it was reported that Benbough had purchased nine houses on Block B of Burlingame for $70,000.42 Benbough moved his immediate family from the urban environment of Middletown to the semi-rural villa at 3147 Kalmia and persuaded other members of his family and several of his friends to take up residence in the other nine houses.

The Kalmia Street houses when completed revealed a potpourri of current stylistic influences with mixtures of Mission Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, American Colonial Revival, Prairie, Cubist, Craftsman, and Italianate. The house at 3113 Kalmia, under construction in July, 1912, originally revealed a remarkable similarity to the international Cubist style in contemporary building, a style which had roots in the Viennese Secession as well as the contemporary Pueblo Revival style popular in the American West.

The 3113 Kalmia home echoed the Prairie style with its deep sheltering eaves emerging from a flat roof. Its strongly horizontal lines and projecting roof were framed by dark wooden beams. The craftsman-like rafter tails piercing the flat facade of the house revealed the influence of the structural vigas of Native American pueblo architecture.

The first residents of the house were Harry and Verna Benbough. Harry, Percy Benbough's brother, was president and chief proprietor of the Benbough Furniture Company which was housed in its own building at Fifth and B Streets in downtown San Diego.43 The firm, one of the largest of its kind in Southern California, was well known for its furnishing of many of the new residential hotels and apartment houses being built during the pre-Exposition population boom.

In the last days of September, 1912, a "palatial" home was begun at 3004 Laurel Street (Block H, Lot 5). The house, designed by William Wheeler, is most notable for its first owner and occupant, Dr. Harry Milton Wegeforth.44 Dr. Wegeforth and Rachel Granger were married in the house on November 14, 1913. The honeymooners enjoyed only a brief occupancy of their first home, however, as the property was acquired by George Buxton late in 1914 for his own residence.

Dr. Wegeforth came to San Diego in 1910 from Baltimore where for several years he had been chief surgeon at a local hospital. Besides his practice of medicine, he contributed much to the civic life of San Diego most notably as the founder of the San Diego Zoological Society and a municipal zoo in 1916.

There is a classical air about the exterior of the Wegeforth house due to the formality of its axial symmetry, its fine proportion, the elegant simplicity of its detail and the plain, massive quality of its stucco walls. In appearance, it is unlike any of the other houses in the tract, and unlike any of William Wheeler's work to that time. Wheeler's design for the house had many features which echoed Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie houses of the turn of the century. The Prairie School style was characterized by a broad hipped roof with deep eaves over a plain block structure with axial symmetry in the plan and facade. Bold windows in simple plaster walls were typical. The Wegeforth house added a Craftsman touch with a wood-framed pergola entrance porch enclosed by a low interlaced brick parapet.

Another of Wheeler's unique houses in the tract was one which he designed for Josephine Hoadley in the Spring of 1913.45 The house at 2522 San Marcos (Block H, Lot 19) was an exotic mix of neo-classical elements reminiscent of late 18th century French details such as massive Doric columns, axial symmetry of plan, and cartouche fenestration. These latter oval windows formed a frieze encircling the house just below the deep eaves of the hip roof. Not mere decorations, these windows were described as "A special feature of the house" the function of which was to serve ventilation "by means of a series of elliptical louvers between the ceiling joists and the rafters on all four sides of the house. These will allow a free circulation of air between the ceiling and roof and thus keep the interior of the house cool in warm weather."46

By January, 1913, at the close of the first year of activity within the Burlingame tract, thirty-three houses had been constructed.47 In February, nine more were scheduled for ground breaking including three for Mary White Fulford, cousin of George White Marston. The three houses facing southeast at the bend of San Marcos (#2516, #2518 and #2520) were built on the edge of Switzer Canyon. Their backs overlooked the undeveloped terrain of Balboa Park and a distant view of the rapidly rising buildings of the Panama-California Exposition (Plate 12). The architect of the three houses, Carleton Monroe Winslow, was supervisor of the construction in the Park and representative of the principal architect of the Panama-California Exposition, Bertram Goodhue.

Plans for the three houses were completed by Winslow in February, 1913 and the contract for construction was awarded in April to Carl Kleinschmidt. The structures were completed by December, 1913.48 Each house, constructed of redwood board siding and shakes, was finished in natural stain with cream white trim for windows and doors. Each was planned to have basement servant's quarters, bedrooms and sleeping porches on the second floor and, on the lower floor, redwood paneled living rooms.

The choice of rustic, wooden construction for the three bungalows, atypical of Winslow's Mediterranean stucco styles, was perhaps made in deference to Mary Fulford's obvious interest in creating an idealized, miniature Alpine village on the canyon rim. The San Diego Union in February, 1913, in a report of her three houses stated that "the steep slopes of the rear portion of the lots and the fine view of the mountains towards the east suggested Switzerland for inspiration."49

The earliest advertisement of the tract by the McFadden & Buxton firm mentions the affinity of the terrain to that of the Alpine countries in Europe. "The Swiss chalet style of architecture is becoming extremely popular ... Along the edge of Burlingame canyon some twenty-five or thirty sites ideally adapted for the erection of Swiss chalets have been laid out."50 Carleton Winslow also referred to "the beauty of the landscape and the picturesque configuration of the land."51

Local speculation maintains that the houses were kept unoccupied and used as model homes for the Exposition during 1915-16.52 Whatever the truth of that neighborhood legend, the fact is that the houses were unoccupied for many years. In November 1913, through his independent realty company, George Buxton advertised the newly completed 2518 San Marcos for sale for $8,750.53 However, the house was not sold until 1923. The houses at 2516 and 2520 were both purchased and occupied in the winter of 1919-1920.

The exteriors of the Fulford houses, although said to be in "Swiss style," were considerably different from the form of the other Alpine styled houses in the tract. These bungalows revealed an East Coast influence in the high steep roofs, gables and dormers. The genesis here was in the shingle style that emerged on the Atlantic seaboard in the 1870's while the other Swiss style houses in the tract, such as those by Josef Brenk, revealed their roots within the rustic California Craftsman style that emerged in Pasadena in the first decade of the century.

Following the first two-year rush to build in the tract, construction projects declined to a token number each year. The national economic depression which began in the early summer of 1913 was intensified throughout the Southwest by the prolonged drought, excessive heat and crop failures.54 In July, local lumber prices were reduced in an effort to stimulate the construction industry.55 However, revolution in Mexico aggravated economic conditions along the border.56 In late August, outbreak of hostilities in Mexicali brought American federal troops to Arizona and California, further depressing local real estate markets.

By the early months of 1914, the economy began to stabilize and local construction was resumed. In Burlingame, that resumption lacked the enthusiasm of the first two years and the outbreak of war in Europe in the following summer further curtailed building activity. Between 1914 and the Federal Census of 1920, less than a dozen new homes were constructed in the tract. When the Sanford Fire Insurance map for the area was published in 1921, ground plans for forty-six houses were illustrated.

In the decade between 1912 and 1921, McFadden & Buxton's early promise of an exclusive community of unique character for the well-to-do American family was established. The promise of those early years stressed the need to create a healthy environment for children and young people which would complement and supplement the home influence. That environmental incubator was intended to promote "...an atmosphere of culture and refinement, sincerity and truth..." in order to nurture the growth of "...upright character...".57

The domestic architecture of that first decade created an integrated and harmonious community of diverse forms. As such, it was a significant expression of the progressive, democratic ideal of its time: unique diversity within harmonious unity...a Tract of Character.

 


Notes

1. "Burlingame...Tract of Character," San Diego Union, 24 January 1912, 13:7.

2. "Sell 34 Lots in Burlingame Tract," San Diego Union, 16 January 1912, 6:5.

3. Strahlmann & Mayer were partners in the Strahlmann-Mayer Drug Company which in 1913 overlooked Horton Plaza on the southeast corner of Fourth and Broadway. Frank Batterton was an independent real estate agent prior to joining The Systems Firm.

4. "Forty-Acre Tract On Brooklyn Heights Is Sold For Subdivision," 26 October 1911, 5:2.

The City Council approved the map of Burlingame at its meeting of Wednesday, January 10, 1912.

5. "Lay Sidewalks in New Subdivision," San Diego Union, 28 January 1912, 26:2.

6. "The Systems Firm," San Diego Union, 1 January 1913, 11:1-7. Several of the Firm members owned residences in the Burlingame tract:

Fred T. Peyton, Realtor for District #4:
Block C, Lot 2 (2455 Pamo Drive)
Completed: May 27, 1913, William Hawkins, builder.

Sterling Smith, Realtor for District #6:
Block E, Lot 18 (2414 Dulzura Drive)
Completed: May 2, 1912, Earl Josef Brenk, architect.

Frank Batterton, Syndicate Department:
Block I, Lot 3 (2521 San Marcos)
Completed: July 24, 1912, Charles C. Swift, builder.

O. Walter Strange, Sales Manager:
Block E, Lot 7 (2431 Capitan)
Completed: May 2, 1912, Earl Josef Brenk, architect.

7. "Reels Of Film To Portray City In 2 States," San Diego Union, 25 May 1912, 27:1.

8. "San Diego Is Given Publicity In Arizona," San Diego Union, 15 June 1913, Section 2, 21:3-4. "Many Arizonans Are Buying In San Diego," San Diego Union, 7 December 1913, Section 2, 8:1.

9. "Fernando Creates Epoch In Auto History," San Diego Union, 21 October 1912, 20:1.

10. "McFadden & Buxton Arcade Opens Today," San Diego Union, 1 May 1913, 16:1-7. "'I've Got You' Yells Man At New Arcade, San Diego Union, 2 May 1913, 2:3.

11. "Vaudeville Acts To Be Shown At Arcade," San Diego Union, 21 May 1913, 7:2.

12. "BURLINGAME," San Diego Union, 16 January 1912, 10:1-7.

13. San Diego County, Office of the Recorder: Miscellaneous Record #40-460, Architect's Certificate #421.

14. "Treasures Found In Ancient Spanish Architecture," San Diego Union, 1 January 1914, 6:1.

15. "Architect Of Espee Is Engaged By Firm," San Diego Union, 26 May 1912, 11:4.

16. "First Home in Burlingame Rapidly Nears Completion," San Diego Union, 3 March 1912, 11:2-4.

17. "New Burlingame Residence Of Unique Exterior Design," San Diego Union, 10 March 1912, 12:2-4.

18. "Woman Building $4800 Bungalow Of Unique Spanish Architecture," San Diego Union, 17 March 1912, 17:1-3.

19. "McFadden-Buxton Report Big Week," San Diego Union, 5 January 1913, Section 4, 43:2.

20. San Diego History Center: Neighborhoods and Tracts, Vol III, "Big Six Price List".

21. "Tours Among San Diego Homes," George Buxton, Inc., San Diego Union, 26 October 1913, Section 2, 1:2-3.

22. Ibid.

23. San Diego History Center: Neighborhoods and Tracts, Vol III, "Big Six Price List".

24. San Diego History Center: Neighborhoods and Tracts, Vol III, "Big Seven Price List".

25. San Diego Daily Transcript, 2 December 1913, 10:1, Office of the Recorder, file #32519: Agreement dated 19 November 1913. "Lillian Jackson Reports Eight Sales," San Diego Union, 21 December 1913, Section 2, 6:2.

26. "Build Nine Houses in Burlingame," San Diego Union, 7 April 1912, 39:1.

27. "Ten Homes In One Tract Completed This Month," San Diego Union, 28 August 1912, 37:4-6. San Diego County, Office of the Recorder: Miscellaneous Record #39-231, 13 July 1912, Notice of Completion.

28. San Diego County, Office of the Recorder: DB #531 410: 11 March 1912, Union Title and Trust Company to Mary E. Tullis, Burlingame, Block E, Lot 18.

29. Many of the early investors were residents of Bisbee, the Arizona mining town on the Mexican border. George Buxton was a former Bisbee resident who encouraged many of his former friends and fellow townsmen to invest in property in Burlingame. After the break-up of the McFadden & Buxton partnership, Buxton continued to market his San Diego properties in Arizona and opened a branch office in that state.

30. "Resignation Of Mr. Brenk," Monrovia Daily News, 21 November 1911, 4:4.

31. O. Walter Strange, an experienced realtor, came to San Diego from Seattle in January 1912. An early employee of McFadden & Buxton, he served as general sales manager of the Systems Firm. As well as being the on-site manager of Burlingame Syndicate houses, he handled business properties for the Firm. He left the Systems Firm in 1913, to establish a real estate partnership. In 1914, he sold his residence in Burlingame and moved to Loma Portal to a house built by David Dryden to the plans of William Wheeler.

32. "Score Of New Homes Being Constructed In Burlingame," San Diego Union, 5 May 1912, 6:2-4.

33. "Woman Will Erect $5800 Bungalow In Burlingame," San Diego Union, 31 March 1912, 14:1-3.

34. "Handsome Swiss Chalet Being Completed In Burlingame," San Diego Union, 30 June 1912, 10:1-3.

35. San Diego History Center: Neighborhoods and Tracts, Vol III, "Big Six Price List".

36. "Former Indiana State Senator Buys Fine Home In Burlingame," San Diego Union, 9 February 1913, 14:2-4.

37. "Plans $9000 Home In Burlingame Tract," San Diego Union, 14 April 1912, 14:2.

38. "Block Is Bought By Seattle Man For Twelve Houses," San Diego Union, 1 May 1912, 24:1.

39. "Lookout Tower Is Feature Of Modern Home On Heights," San Diego Union, 18 August 1912, 36:3-5.

40. San Diego Daily Transcript, 29 May 1913, Notice of Completion.

41. Ibid., Miscellaneous Records, #6222, #6223, #6248, 28 February 1913; #6359, 1 March 1913; #6437, #6460, 3 March 1913, #6558, #6629-#6633, #6636-#6640, #6645-#6647, #6651-#6653, #6765- #6767, 4 March 1913; #7000, #7026-#7027, #7036, #7041-#7045, 6 March 1913. (Mechanics Liens all.)

42. "One of The Largest Residence Deals," San Diego Union, 4 November 1913, 9:1.

43. "Remarkable Record Of Local Furniture House," San Diego Union, 9 February 1913, 13:1-7.

44. "Another Palatial Home For Group Of Attractive Buildings in Burlingame," San Diego Union, 29 September 1912, Real Estate Section, 1:2-4.

45. Josephine Hoadley, Notary Public, was not an official member of the Systems Firm, however, many of the firm's early legal papers received her services as a notary. Miss Hoadley was also one of the first professional tenants of the McFadden & Buxton Arcade. Her stenographers office was opened on May 1, 1913.

46. "Beautiful $5000 Home Being Erected In Burlingame For Miss Josephine Hoadley," San Diego Union, 27 April 1913, 5:2-3.

47. "McFadden & Buxton Report Big Week," San Diego Union, 5 January 1913, Section 4, 43:2.

48. San Diego County, Office of the Recorder Miscellaneous Records, Building Permits #1231, #1232, #1233, Mrs. G. F. Fulford per Carl Kleinschmidt, 11 April 1913. Miscellaneous Records, Notice of Completion, #43-267, 10 Dec 1913 Contract date: 1 April 1913.

49. "Burlingame To Gain Three Beautiful Swiss Style Homes," San Diego Union, 2 February 1913, 28:1-4.

50. "Burlingame - The Tract Of Character," San Diego Union, 24 January 1912, 13:1-7.

51. "Burlingame To Gain Three Beautiful Swiss Style Homes," San Diego Union, 2 February 1913, 28:1-4.

52. Author's Interview of long-term Burlingame resident, Virginia Taylor, 2520 San Marcos Avenue.

53. "Tours Among Our Homes," San Diego Union, 13 November 1913, 10:3-5.

54. "Big Market Decline, Severe Losses Reported," San Diego Union, 5 June 1913, 14:1; "Business Outlook Good Despite Drought," San Diego Union, 16 August 1913, 4:1.

55. "Lumber Prices Are To Be Reduced...," San Diego Union, 15 July 1913, 18:1.

56. "War Opens In Lower California...," San Diego Union, 26 August 1913, 1:1-7; "American Troops Ordered To Border," San Diego Union, 28 August 1913, 1:1-7.

57. Hon. Eugene De Burn: "Burlingame For Growing Families," San Diego Union, 28 February 1912, 10:1-7.


Donald Covington, a Professor Emeritus of Design in the Art Department of San Diego State University, taught courses in the history of architecture and design. He currently conducts research in the history of local architecture and the decorative arts. His research paper on the work of Craftsman builder, David Owen Dryden, appeared in the Winter 1991 issue of the Journal of San Diego History. Prof. Covington holds degrees in art from Southern Methodist University and the University of California, Los Angeles. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, he completed post-graduate studies in architectural history in the British Isles.

Photographs from this article

Walking Tour of Burlingame, Then and Now