Historic Projects

The Pink Lady House Rescued - Historic Real Estate

Canfield House UT article. (For full article, click on the image.)
Canfield-Wright House Rescued from Demolition
(Exerpt from sohosandiego.org) By Vonn Marie May

canfield wright house rescued
Photo courtesy of David Marshall

When an aggressive development permit containing a 100% demolition request was pulled last Spring in the City of Del Mar, all the preservation red flags went up. The plight of the Canfield-Wright House, written about in SOHO’s last newsletter issue, came to the attention of Del Mar residents and preservationists immediately. A mobilized effort ensued; petitions were circulated, legal options were explored, talks within the City of Del Mar were held, and a National Register nomination was completed and filed.

Over the summer the development permit languished. The City of Del Mar went through a bit of a learning curve regarding the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and how it applies to historic resources. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) sent the legal notice to the owner acknowledging receipt of a National Register nomination (applied for by local concerned residents).

So here we are in the Fall and I am very happy to announce at this time that the owner who had eyed the property for a ‘contemporary’ fate, has withdrawn his money and intentions and a new historically sensitive owner has stepped in. This is somewhat of a record. In my experience preservation battles go on for some time, ie; the Balboa Theatre, 15 years; the Old Police HQ, 5 years; you get the picture, but 6 months? This is a Guinness moment, for sure!

The new owner is none other than Bill Davidson, President of Davidson Communities, a housing development company, and who, coincidentally lives in the same neighborhood as the Canfield-Wright House. Bill had always admired the residence and when it was in threat of complete demolition he had to act. Some may remember a project that the Davidson Company is well known for; the restoration of Amy Strong’s Castle in Ramona, a National Register site. A beautiful organic stone landmark residence designed by Ms. Strong and her architects, Emmor Brooke Weaver and John Vawter.

Davidson built a well-designed housing development around the Castle, utilizing the historical cues and precedents. He preserved a large swath of open space with a golf course and clubhouse showcasing the Castle as the cultural anchor and star of the whole layout. The Castle is available for wedding and reception rental and is one of the best historic settings in San Diego County. Other developers could and should use this development as a model. It pays great homage to the historical resource, it allows the resource to have breathing room and it maintains the cultural character and access to the area. …….. For full story click here.

Historic Pink Lady Gets Makeover

(Exerpt from delmarsandpiper.org) July 2008 | by Art Olson

After four years of intensive work, careful restoration, and architecturally sensitive additions, the renovation of the house on Avenida Primavera originally built by Charles A. Canfield in 1910 has finally been completed. Known alternately as the Canfield-Wright House, Wrightland, and The Pink Lady, this Spanish Revival house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and reflects the rich history of Del Mar over the past 100 years.

Canfield, himself, was a seminal figure in the evolution of the area, and of the early oil industry in California . It is said that the events (but not the personalities) portrayed in last year’s Oscar winning “There will be Blood” were largely based upon his career, a trajectory from miner to wealthy oilman. In 1892 he drilled the first successful strike in Los Angeles . Later, Canfield helped to persuade the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad to switch from coal- to oil-burning locomotives. He ultimately invested his wealth in real estate, helping to establish both Beverly Hills and Del Mar. He hired the well-known Los Angeles architect, John C. Austin to design and build his residence in Del Mar, but sold it after only a couple of years.

The house, bought by the Wright family, changed little over the years, with a small addition to the main residence and outbuildings and a large retaining wall added later. By the turn of this century, the house had seen better days, and had been rented to multiple tenants and painted a bright pink – thus becoming “The Pink Lady” of latter days. In 2003 it was purchased with the intent of tearing it down and replacing it with a more modern structure. A hue and cry arose from Del Mar citizens seeking to preserve a piece of the community’s unique history. After many heated discussions at City Council and Design Review Board meetings, a happy fate for the house was in serious doubt. At a critical moment, home developer Bill Davidson, who lived across the street, saved it from the wrecking ball by buying the property from the new owner. He subsequently presented his own development plans, which were judged to be in compliance with historic-preservation guidelines.

According to Pat Towner, the project supervisor, Davidson became deeply involved in guiding the historically sensitive design of the house. The 1910 structure has now been lovingly restored, preserving both its character and detail, while the new building additions have been placed and integrated to preserve the majestic presence of the original house……………. for full story click here.

Pink Canfield House Saved

Pink House After Restoration


Exchange House Before Restoration

Exchange House After Restoriation

Kitchen Before Renovation

Kitchen After Restoration - Davidson Communities


Windmill House Before Resue - San Dego

Wind Mill After Rescue - Davidson Communities

MWEX Before Rescue of Home

MWEX after rescue of home




The Bishops School La Jolla Reading Room 1897