A look at Rose Creek Cottage’s past reveals story of community support for beloved structure
by Dave Schwab
Oct 25, 2013 | 2785 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rose Creek Cottage was once the dining room of Braemar, the Frederick Tudor Scripps estate that once stood where the Catamaran Resort is located today. Above, Rose Creek Cottage can be seen to the left of the main estate. The dining room was added separately so Mrs. Scripps could entertain her guests in style. 	Courtesy of John Fry
Rose Creek Cottage was once the dining room of Braemar, the Frederick Tudor Scripps estate that once stood where the Catamaran Resort is located today. Above, Rose Creek Cottage can be seen to the left of the main estate. The dining room was added separately so Mrs. Scripps could entertain her guests in style. Courtesy of John Fry
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Most are familiar with the quaint Rose Creek Cottage, a wedding and event venue located at the entryway to Pacific Beach off Interstate 5.

But far fewer are aware of its colorful and historic past and the roundabout way it came to be situated on the creek of the same name at 2525 Garnet Ave.

Rose Creek Cottage is actually the last surviving remnant of an early-day mansion that once stood where the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa at 3999 Mission Blvd. is now.

“We know it as part of the old Frederick Tudor Scripps estate [called] Braemar,” said John Fry, founder/president of the Pacific Beach Historical Society.

The cottage, said former Pacific Beach Town Councilmember Eve Anderson, “was once the dining room and community meeting room of the only real mansion that was ever in Pacific Beach. It had a library and was the social hub of the community for many years.”

A half-brother of famed La Jolla philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, F.T. Scripps, an Illinois native, and his bride, Emma Jessop of England, built the Braemar estate home at the northwest corner of Mission Bay and settled down there in 1906.

In the mid-1920s, the dining room, now the Rose Creek Cottage, was added on so Mrs. Scripps could entertain in grander fashion. It wasn’t long before Braemar became the cultural center of Pacific Beach, which mostly consisted of fruit orchards back then. Early residents enjoyed holiday functions and birthday parties, to which all beach-area children were invited.

“People used to walk or ride their horses down to Braemar,” said Fry. “It was just gorgeous.”

In 1955, the property was sold by Scripps to Pacific Beach developer Vernon Taylor and Clinton Mckinnon for a proposed hotel. Only the dining room of Braemar was spared when the entire estate was razed in 1959 to make way for the Catamaran Hotel.

Here is where the story of the “orphaned” dining room really becomes interesting.

“That dining room became the Catamaran’s wedding chapel, which it was for many years,” said Anderson, noting the dining room-turned-chapel’s fate took an abrupt turn at the end of the 1950s.

Developers told the community they were going to build a parking garage and take the wedding chapel down.

“You can’t do that. We need to save it,” was the response of Anderson and her Town Council colleagues.

Hotel owners ultimately relented. They agreed not to destroy the chapel if the community could find a new place for it and pay for its removal.

That’s when Rose Creek Cottage became “homeless.”

“We finally got it moved to a vacant lot, where it sat up on moving girders over at the southeast corner of Bayard Street and Grand Avenue while we tried to find it a new home,” said Fry, noting that search proved more difficult than anticipated.

“We thought it could be moved to Kate Sessions Park, but that didn’t work out,” he said.

Time was running out when the Navy came to the rescue.

Then-Congressman Bill Lowery convinced the Navy to allow the cottage to be moved to property then owned by the Navy along Rose Creek on Garnet Avenue.

“For two years it sat on that vacant lot,” said Anderson. “Then the [Town Council] got [the property] for $1 a year.”

Rose Creek Cottage was moved two miles east to its present location finally in 1986.

“We marched it up the street, very carefully, on Halloween,” said Anderson.

Negotiations between the Pacific Beach Town Council, city government and the Navy took nine months. It also took an extended period to bring the cottage up to building code.

That was done with extensive community support, said Anderson.

“A sod company donated for the lawn, another company donated to fix up the room,” she said. “It took a good year to get the cottage in working order.”

One final hurdle had to be cleared, though.

A year after the move, when donations had reached $16,633 and Rose Creek Cottage’s restoration was nearly complete, the Pacific Beach Town Council was hit with a $3,535 sewer hookup fee.

Again, someone came to the cottage’s rescue in the 11th hour as outgoing City Councilman Mike Gotch, in one of his last official acts, convinced the city to waive the hookup fee, saying, “This is my goodbye.”

A quarter-century later, Rose Creek Cottage remains a popular and picturesque location for weddings and other events.

“Weddings are three-quarters of our business,” said Mark Johnston, who runs Wedding & Event Designers at the cottage, renting it out by the hour. “But we also do a lot of special events — funeral services, club functions, installation dinners, anniversary parties, etc. “Our doors are always open.”

And many locals have strolled down the aisle and through Rose Creek Cottage’s doors.

“I got married there,” said Anderson. “My son and his bride got married there. We had the reception in the backyard. We love the chapel.”

For more information about Rose Creek Cottage, call (858) 490-0468 or visit rosecreekcottage.net.
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