A Picnic in Collier Park – OB Historical Society’s Celebration of the ‘Door of Hope’

by on August 30, 2022 · 1 comment

in History, Ocean Beach

The Ocean Beach Historical Society picnic event was held at Collier Park west. The program covered the history of adjacent parkland. Photos by Justin Reed, Ocean Beach Historical Society Photographer

By Kathy Blavatt

On a lovely Thursday evening on August 18, 2022, a group of locals came together for the Ocean Beach Historical Society picnic at Collier Park west, on Greene Street & Soto Street.

The picnickers were there to learn about and enjoy this unique parkland, which once included the former Door of Hope. Visionary D.C. Collier, known as the ‘Father of Ocean Beach,’ gifted us with this parkland and much more.

 

I was one of the OBHS featured speakers and I presented an overview of Collier Parkland and the history of “Door of Hope,” a home for unwed mothers, which resided within the middle of the park property for over a half-century.

In 1931, The Salvation Army took over the Door of Hope. Later, they built a nursing facility. Due to a lack of space, they rented four local cottages to support the facilities. The grounds were landscaped with gardens and had a fruit orchard.

The Ocean Beach Historical put photos of Door of Hope in the Ocean Beach book and on the OBHS website. Over the years, people adopted from Door of Hope made contact with one another in search of information. Bob M., an OBHS member in his seventies, joined the group picnic. He was adopted as a child by a Point Loma family and grew up in a home on the hill near Hill Street. He felt lucky to have had a good life with that family.

The door of Hope closed in 1962, and apartments replaced that section of land.

The parkland surrounding Door of Hope went through many stages before becoming Collier Park west, the Ocean Beach Community Garden, and the Point Loma Native Plant Garden. I also spoke about the surrounding community and an earlier pre-O.B. development built by DePuy west of the park. I brought large boards for guests to see mounted historical articles,  photos, maps, news clippings, and other materials related to the Door of Hope and Collier parkland.

After my talk, Eric DuVall, OBHS President, made a quick speech.

Featured OBHS guest speaker Kim McGinly spoke about the Ocean Beach Community Garden, and John Noble told the history of the Point Loma Native Plant Garden.

Kim McGinly from the Ocean Beach Community Garden, and  Colleen Dietzel, (OB Green Center) enjoyed the picnic.

Kim McGinly spoke about the history and current Ocean Beach Community Garden site. Kim told us that Mission Bay Nursery use to be on the property where the Ocean Beach Community Garden now resides.

The city used the nursery to grow the trees for Mission Bay Park as seen on the 1950 Land Use in Collier Park drawing. After the city finished using the Mission Bay Nursery, they paved the whole area!

In 1979, Jesse Schwartz, Ph.D., a former college professor, lobbied San Diego Park and Rec to make a community garden on the park property along Soto Street, adjacent to Collier Park.

n 1983, community garden volunteers removed the concrete, and the garden held its first  “Opening Garden Day.” It became ‘Ocean Beach Community Garden, ‘ a community-based organic garden. The Ocean Beach Community Garden continues having ‘Open Garden Days’ and monthly educational workshops.

Jan. 28, 1968- Mrs. Page Cummins working to save potential parkland and trees.

In 1968 there were plans to develop Collier Parkland. The activist community launched a campaign and protested to save Collier Park. The activists did save sections of the property, but apartments were built where the Door of Hope had stood. The apartments cut right into the middle of the parkland property, sadly breaking up the three parks.

The good news is that some of the original trees remain on the Collier Park west property.

Collier Park west was dedicated and named in honor of  D.C. Collier. Unfortunately, memorizing Collier for such so few acres seems skimpy when you  consider he acquired  a total of 60 acres of parkland for the public.

Correia Middle School, which sits on the 60-acre parkland, was initially named Collier Junior High but later changed to Correia after a renowned artisan Portuguese glass blower from Point Loma.

OBHS guest speaker John Noble, the owner of Coastal Sage, spoke about the third eastern section of the triangular parkland.

John played a significant role in forming the Point Loma Native Garden plans by lobbying, helping with its care and design, and giving informative tours.

Unlike the OB Community Garden, the Point Loma Native Garden lobbied for years to get approval from the city. The  Point Loma Garden Club joined forces with John and others helping them make headway.

John’s passion and tears came out when he spoke of several of the senior women from the Point Loma Garden Club that literally gave their lives caring for the garden, with little help from the city.

Fortunately, the city did step in, and the San Diego River Park took over the care of the Point Loma Native Garden. They also finished landscaping a large section that never was landscaped.

John has nothing but praise for the two San Diego River Park gardeners that now take care of the park. It has indeed turned into a gem of a park.

The park atmosphere created a cozy forum so people could ask questions and bring their comments and information forward.

Communities need parks and gardens. These three connected garden parks are shining examples of the peninsula community pulling together to create wonderful diverse parks that should be examples to other communities.

Lastly, we need to applaud D.C. Collier for his generosity and vision of the need for public parks and tree-lined streets. Who better than D.C . Collier as the father of Ocean Beach?

D.C. Collier, “Father of OB”

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Geoff Page August 30, 2022 at 5:30 pm

Great account of the gathering and the history, Kathy. I wish I could have made it there.

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