Lillian J. Rice was the inspiration for the timeless nature of Rancho Santa Fe.
Brought up in National City near the Mexican border, her father was a leading educator and mother an artist. Her parents dream was for Lillian to break the mold of what was expected of young women around the turn of the last century. Lillian was one of the first women to earn a degree in architecture from the University of California Berkeley.
The image on the left is Lillian’s University of California Berkeley graduation picture, circa 1910.
Returning to San Diego she worked with some notable individuals including Richard S. Requa, Herbert L. Jackson and Irving Gill.
Richard S. Requa’s firm was commissioned to develop, what was to be the first planned sub-division in the US in Rancho Santa Fe. Requa chose to turn this project over to Rice, his associate. She was made responsible for the over-all plan and indeed Lilian designed many of the town centers buildings as well as a number of residences throughout Rancho Santa Fe.
This is how Rancho Santa Fe village center looked, soon after construction:
And here is how it looks today, in a painting by Mary Helmreich (prints available here).
While Lillian had worked in a number of communities throughout the County, the most lasting impression of this talented architect remains most visible at Rancho Santa Fe.
In the late 1920s, she opened her own office and continued her work until her sudden death in 1938. The residents of Rancho Santa Fe have a lot to be thankful for in Ms Rice, her vision made “The Ranch” what it is today.
Learn more about the origins of Rancho Santa Fe and Lillian J Rice.