Pacific Beach Woman’s Club observed two major milestones this year: The club celebrated its 125th anniversary, along with putting its 109-year-old historic clubhouse up for sale for the first time entertaining offers starting at $1.5 million.
“COVID didn’t help, but the building was getting to be so old, and we’ve fixed all the small stuff, but we can’t save enough money to fix any of the big stuff,” said PBWC president Mary Lou Benzel. “There are property taxes and utilities and general maintenance fees to be paid. And we can’t have the three fundraisers we have every year, so we don’t have any way to raise that money.”
Added Benzel: “It just became evident that with COVID we weren’t going to be able to handle it (overhead). It wasn’t an easy decision. And there are still a few members who are upset. The new board took over in June, and it was shortly after that we started talking about it and we said, ‘Let’s just put it up (for sale) and see how much we can get for it.’”
Built in 1911, the 3,528-square-foot property at 1721 Hornblend St. is on 0.22 acres. It is a non-traditional dwelling.
Pointing out the clubhouse property was originally a lemon grove and was zoned agricultural, Benzel added: “It’s never been a residence. It was built as a meeting place and it has no bedrooms. It’s a huge meeting hall with a foyer and an office and stage at the back end of it. And, because it’s a historical building, whoever buys it can’t change the outside of it.”
The PB Woman’s Club was established in 1895 to enrich the lives of the women living in the area. Several women met at the home of Mrs. Rose Hartwick to establish the club rules and regulations. The clubhouse was built on land donated by several members and has served as a gathering place ever since.
During the early years, the club participated in many philanthropic causes, including rolling bandages during World Wars I and II, entertaining the troops, and establishing the first public library in Pacific Beach.
Today, Woman’s Club members support various causes and are active in many civic and community events and activities, including hosting musical performances. In 2019, beneficiaries of PBWC’s generosity included the Polinsky Children’s Center, Toys For Tots, Concerts on the Green in PB, the Surfrider Foundation, scholarships at Mission Bay High School, an annual fishing derby on Crystal Pier, and Veterans Standdown.
PBWC also wants to squelch rumors that the clubhouse could become a homeless shelter.
“The club is not going to be turned into a homeless shelter no matter who purchases it, that is not the plan for it,” said PBWC board member Ellen Citrano. “The building is on the historic register, so the city has a lot to say on what the outside of the building looks like, and the City Planning Department would have to approve any permitting for other issues.”
Benzel feels giving up the clubhouse won’t be a hindrance to PBWC.
“I don’t think it will affect us at all,” she said. “Though the downside is we will not have a permanent place, so we’ll have to meet at the library or the YMCA when it’s finished, or even Rose Creek Cottage. We’ll still be able to fulfill the club’s mission of providing service to the community. Giving up the clubhouse won’t stop us from what we’re doing. It will just give us more funds to make significant contributions to the charities we sponsor.”
And there’s a possibility, however remote, that the clubhouse could be moved to another suitable site if one could be found.
“We’re exploring the possibility of moving the structure somewhere else,” noted Benzel.
Concluded Citrano: “We are going to stick around in Pacific Beach for another 125-plus year and be a great community partner as we always have been. We may just not have brick and mortar to surround us, but we’ve got love and caring to go all around.”
For more information about the property, contact listing agent Rachel Wilkins at 619-504-8119.