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Boathouse tour offers rare glimpse of historical downtown

ENCINITAS — A famed tourist attraction has become more accessible as visitors had the rare opportunity to tour one of the historic boathouses and several other unique buildings downtown.
Despite the inclement weather approximately 175 people participated in the inaugural tour Oct. 17. The sneak peek of the historical past and future of downtown came at a low cost of $25 per person.
“This is helping to maintain part of the cultural heritage of downtown Encinitas,” Sara Hellinger said.
In addition, the tour featured a 1930s downtown beach bungalow home, a masterpiece beach bluff home, the 1883 Encinitas School House, a mixed-use architect’s live and work project and a new mixed-use residence in Pacific Station.
The boathouses moored along Third Street cemented their place in the city’s future as City Council agreed to support the purchase of the property by The Encinitas Preservation Association in 2009.
In fact, the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association was a driving force in the preservation of these one-of-a-kind architectural reminders of the city’s past. In conjunction with the Encinitas Historical Society, The Lofts at Moonlight Beach L.L.C., the city of Encinitas and California Community Bank, the association was able to preserve the 80-year-old boathouses, located at 726 and 732 Third St. “I cannot imagine an Encinitas without those boathouses,” Peder Norby said.
Norby, the city’s Highway 101 corridor coordinator, said the community “dodged a bullet” when the boathouses were sold to private owners who were committed to preserving the architectural integrity several years ago.
Built in 1928 by Miles Kellogg with recycled lumber from the Moonlight Beach Dance Pavilion, the boathouses have become unique architectural landmarks in a city that is becoming increasingly homogeneous. “The boathouses are an excellent example of vernacular architecture and early California courtyard architecture,” Deputy Mayor Maggie Houlihan said. “They represent our history, they speak to the eclectic nature of our community.”
“We were ecstatic,” Norby said about the turnout. “It was a first time event and volunteers reported that everyone was very pleased with the tour.”
“This establishes a new annual event that highlights unique buildings and homes,” according to Norby. “Next year we’re anticipating about 500 people.” The tour is an asset to the city he said. “It gets people out walking and it familiarizes people with the architecture of Encinitas with an emphasis on history and preservation,” Norby said.
The effort to preserve the boathouses has benefited from the support of the community and the interest in the “nuts and bolts” of the buildings continues to grow. “I’ve walked past them so many times and always wondered what they looked like,” said Jonathon Brooks, a surfer on his way back from a surf session at D Street nearby. “I think the community is lucky in a way to have something this unique and to have people want to preserve it.”