The James honored for Wisteria Cottage and Garden Party in Ocean Beach
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 06/18/21 - 07:15 AM | 4581 views | 4 4 comments | 70 70 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Susan and Pat James of OB have been caretakers of the historic beach cottage since 2012. COURTESY PHOTO
Susan and Pat James of OB have been caretakers of the historic beach cottage since 2012. COURTESY PHOTO
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Among the artifacts preserved at the historic wisteria vine-covered cottage at 4761 Niagara Ave. are a huge Ocean Beach monument sign, nostalgic community business signs, and the old Strand Theatre’s film projector (1925-1998).

“I collect a lot of relics, like this entryway sign to Ocean Beach that was on the highway for 35 years, and business signs from Quiggs Bar & Grill and the Electric Chair,” said Pat James who, along with wife Susan, have been caretakers of the charming OB beach cottage built in 1907 by a couple from New Mexico.

The garden party tradition was started by the late Ned Titlow, past president of OBHS, and Carol Bowers, OBHS co-founder. Now known as the Wisteria Garden Party, the spring event brings local artists and famous OB residents together to play music, showcase art, and bring photos and memorabilia showcasing the beach community's long history.

Pat and Susan James have resided in the Niagara Avenue beach cottage since 2012. They are both extremely active in Ocean Beach Historical Society. Pat, a lifelong Obecian, was OBHS president for 14 years.

Together, the James were recently honored for maintaining the tradition of the Wisteria Cottage and Garden Party by Save Our Heritage Organization. The James’ award was presented to them by the historical preservation group during its May 27 online awards meeting.

“We did it every year for a long time,” noted Susan of the spring event. “The garden party is usually in the third week in March when the flowers are blooming. In spring it’s just really beautiful. It’s a great time of the year to have it. People are ready to get out and enjoy the sun. We’ve only had to cancel it once for wind and rain.”

“It’s a fundraiser for the OB Historical Society, which is now every other year, except last year and this year,” noted Pat of the garden party. “We hope to bring it back in 2022.”

Asked about living in a historic cottage Susan replied. “We love it. You feel like you’re part of the history.”

Pat concurred. “We feel super blessed to be living here, feeling like stewards of this historic cottage with its magnificent wisteria vines that has been here for a long time – longer than all of us,” he said.

The Wisteria Garden Party is truly something special, both Pat and Susan agree.

“We have live bands and mostly finger foods,” noted Pat. “We’ve had speakers come out talking about the wisteria and the history of the place. We dress the place up with the same colors as the wisteria. It’s magical. When the wisteria is in bloom, you come out and you hear bees humming and it’s very fragrant. You can smell it from a block away.”

“No one’s ever been stung,” pointed out Susan of the wisteria’s bees adding about the semi-annual garden party, “There’s an opportunity drawing, a raffle, where people can buy tickets. We have live auctions sometimes. We’ve had ladies come out in period dress, or at least wearing garden hats.”

Pat noted the cottage and the historical society are linked.

“OBHS started in 1994 with just eight or 10 members at our first meeting,” he said. “This cottage has always been sort of our society’s headquarters.”

Susan pointed out OBHS membership has grown over the years and now stands at about 300.

Pat said he and Susan take great pride in preserving the history and tradition of their unique cottage in its one-of-a-kind beach community. “We’re one of the earliest beach towns founded in 1887,” he pointed out. “The first settlers in Old Town, the birthplace of California, used to come here to picnic. Point Loma is just so chock full of history. It’s truly amazing. We even have evidence that the Kumeyaay Indians came down here in their spring groups for collecting shellfish.”

Concluded Pat of OB history including its turn-of-the-20th-century beach cottages: “We’ve got a really colorful past. It’s pretty exciting to be part of this.”

 

Comments
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Cozima Utley
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June 19, 2021
Do they know how old the wisteria vine is? It's so big!
Josh Utley
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June 19, 2021
Definitely a part of history. Love these two!

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June 18, 2021
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Josh Utley
|
June 19, 2021
Definitely a part of history. Love these two!
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