Coronado’s Delawie House Still on Life Support

1010 Glorietta Blvd. was built by famed architect Homer Delawie.

The State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) voted 6-1 on Friday morning to recommend that the house at 1010 Glorietta Blvd. be designated as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places at its meeting in Santa Rosa. It now goes on to the Keeper of the National Trust for final approval.

Built by master architect Homer Delawie in 1963, it is officially known as the Capt. and Mrs. A.J. Peterson Residence, named after the couple who commissioned it.

The house is now owned by Mark and Margarita Gosselin, who bought the property for its view and land value—not its aesthetics.

“We would have never bought it if we couldn’t tear it down,” Margarita Gosselin told the Coronado City Council at its Nov. 18 meeting.  At that meeting, the City Council voted 4-1 not to issue a demolition permit until the SHRC had ruled. 

Because the Gosselins have objected to the listing, the house will be designated, but not formally placed, on the National Register, according to local architect Chris Ackerman, who attended the meeting in Santa Rosa. Recognizing the new owners’ views, the commission recommended the house be designated rather than listed, Ackerman explained.

It will, however, have all the legal protection of a house listed on the National Register and will be placed automatically on the State Historical Register, Ackerman explained. This is the first step—and a small victory—in the preservation effort to save the house from demolition.

The application to list the Peterson Residence was made by Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO). Dan Soderberg, SOHO’s vice president and modernist committee chair, represented the home at Friday’s commission meeting in Santa Rosa.

In his testimony to the commissioners, Soderberg said he pointed to Delawie’s architectural lineage. Delawie had partnered with Lloyd Ruocco, who worked with Richard Requa and Lillian Rice. Both had worked for Irving Gill, the seminal Southern California modernist architect, who studied with Louis Sullivan, founder of the Prairie School in American Architecture and a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright.  

“It shows the continuity in architecture—one generation giving to another,” Soderberg said after the vote. “I think the commissioners understood that.”

Two other Coronado residents, Dani Grady and Ralph Greenspan, traveled to Santa Rosa to testify in favor of listing the house. They were not available for comment.

Doug St. Denis, a member of Coronado’s Historic Resource Commission, said she was “delighted with the news.”

“It’s heartwarming to see this pristine little jewel box of house recognized for what it is—pure Delawie magic,” St. Denis wrote in an e-mail.

“My hope is that the Gosselins will rethink their project, apply for a Coronado historic designation, work with an architect familiar with the genre to expand the house, and apply for a Mills Act tax benefit,” she added. “That way, everyone wins.”

Neither the Gosselins, nor their attorney Mark Dilon, were available following the vote. Phone calls to their offices were not returned.

The commission’s recommendation will now go to the Keeper of the National Trust for final approval.

“Once the Keeper signs off, the house will be listed,” said Emily Burrows, a historian at the National Register of Historic Places.

The Registry receives between 1,100 and 2,000 nominations a year, according to Burrows. Each nomination is subject to a full review by a council of 15 historical and architectural experts. The review takes 45 days and includes a 15-day public-comment period. 

It’s not a rubber stamp, but the Keeper normally goes along with what the state recommends, Burrows said.

“We feel they know their own history and cultural resources,” she said.

“More often than not, when an application is sent back it’s for technical reasons—the information is incomplete or a photograph is not the right size,” she added.

Delawie is best known for the trolley building and clock across from the Santa Fe Depot and the School of Creative and Performing Arts in South Bay. He won his first design award in 1958 for a house he built in Mission Hills.  He went on to build some 60 residences throughout San Diego County, but only one in Coronado. 

“Four of his houses are already listed on the National Register. If the Keeper approves the commission’s recommendations, this will be the fifth Delawie house listed on the National Register,” said Bruce Coons, executive director of SOHO.

Coronado has only one other property on the Natural Register of Historic Places— the Hotel del Coronado. If The Keeper agrees with the state, and the Gosselins rescind their objections, the city may soon have two national historic treasures.