By Katherine Hon | PastMatters
A vision of fine homes with unobstructed views
In 1926, Walter Sidney Broderick had a vision for the vacant slopes rising west of Florida Street between Cypress and Myrtle avenues.
He had been dealing in San Diego real estate since 1907, when he started the Broderick-West Land Company with William H. West. By 1926, Broderick was operating his own firm, the Broderick Land Company, with his wife Annie.
In this conveniently located southwestern corner of University Heights, Broderick saw the potential for a terraced landscape of properties. He stated in the May 30, 1926 issue of San Diego Union that the area could be “beautified like the hillsides of Pasadena,” nothing that “terraced property usually assures unobstructed views.”
Broderick bought land encompassing the west side of Florida Street and the east side of Georgia Street between Cypress and Myrtle avenues from Muriel and R.E. Hazard; this carved a new subdivision — or “tract” — out of Block 254 of the large University Heights subdivision, originally mapped in 1888. He called his subdivision “Wilshire Terrace” and paved a new road — also named Wilshire Terrace — down the middle of it. However, he apparently never filed an official subdivision map.
Broderick announced the sale of lots on May 23, 1926. A San Diego Union article described Wilshire Terrace as “a tract of 60 home sites, on which 10 beautiful homes have been built and five are building.”
Two days later, a large advertisement in the Evening Tribune proclaimed, “W.S. Broderick Presents 45 Beautiful Park-Sites five minutes from the Plaza — through Beauty to Beauty.” The advertisement noted that the subdivision was “one of the most imposing close-in subdivisions to be marketed locally in many years.”
The “Second and Last Call” for investment in the residential property of Wilshire Terrace “Overlooking Balboa Park and the Ocean” appeared in the May 30, 1926 issue of the San Diego Union. The available 50-foot frontage lots were offered at $1,400 to $1,750 with all improvements including concrete-paved street, gas, water, electricity, sewers, paved sidewalks and curbs.
By January 1927, individual residences and several apartment buildings had been built in an eclectic mix of Spanish Revival and Tudor Revival styles on 12 lots along the east side of Georgia Street. Broderick had built three two-story duplex buildings encompassing the addresses of 3503 through 3533 Georgia St., which he offered as an “Opportunity Extraordinary in Wilshire Terrace … every building a model of architectural beauty and completeness” in the May 26, 1926 issue of the San Diego Union. Two Spanish Revival homes had been built on the interior street at 3559 and 3608 Wilshire Terrace, and two Spanish Revival flats had been built facing Cypress Avenue. Six residences populated the west side of Florida Street southward from Cypress Avenue.
By 1928, Broderick had built three two-story duplexes on the east side of the interior street, encompassing the addresses of 3605 through 3639 Wilshire Terrace. But development faltered after the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression stifled the economy nationwide. Broderick Land Company disappeared from the City Directory in 1931, and Walter S. Broderick became a salesman for Carteri Furniture Company. Later in the 1930s and into the 1940s, he worked for several sign companies, including San Diego Neon Sign Company.
Broderick’s vision did not end with the Depression, however. In May 1938, the San Diego Union announced that development within the Wilshire Terrace tract had begun again with “unusual” and “decidedly new and original” homes by the Wilshire Building Company, which had acquired the last 25 lots of the tract. The architecture of the homes in this “new low-cost housing development on Wilshire Terrace” reflected the move toward the simple and clean lines of the Ranch style.
The first and second homes offered were at 3550 and 3544 Wilshire Terrace. The third home, at 3524 Wilshire Terrace, was announced in the San Diego Union on June 12, 1938. This residence was described as “taken from the ‘Home of the Month’ first prize plan of the California Homes Magazine. [The home] overlooks Balboa Park, [and features a] large bay window, scenic paneled dining room, rose kitchen with corner sink, full tiled bath, beautiful bedrooms, double garage and small patio. Total price only $4300 including house, lot and garage, [and] all paving paid.”
The sixth home, located at 3530 Wilshire Terrace, was described in a Sept. 25, 1938 San Diego Union article as “commanding a delightful outlook over the terraces below and to the east, including, on a clear day, a view of the south end of the bay and the mountains of Mexico.” The houses had been dubbed “Sunshine Homes” because of the “maximum amount of sunshine admitted to every one of them.”
The May 15, 1938 announcement for the second Wilshire Building Company home noted, “Sales Manager Broderick declares that the unusual scenic beauty of the land here enables an artistic home builder to get desirable effects and preserve the natural beauty of hills and dales that overlook Balboa Park.”
Perhaps Walter Broderick was still helping to make his vision a reality.
— Katherine Hon is the secretary of the North Park Historical Society. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-294-8990.