Darlington was a fan of La Jolla. She met architect Herbert Palmer who, according to the history of the home, she persuaded to move to La Jolla in the early 1920s to build her one house from two properties she had bought.
Carole Renstrom, a current volunteer at the Darlington House, 7441 Olivetas Ave., said Darlington was a fan of Moorish architecture "“ found in the Mediterranean, Arabian and pre-Roman. Darlington and her two children took a trip through the Mediterranean with another architect, Richard Requa, searching for ideas. The home is filled with imported tiles. In 1927, construction started to combine the two small homes, using Spanish, Italian, Grecian, Moroccan and Persian style motifs and artifacts.
Darlington brought in a third and final architect, Tom Shepherd, of La Jolla, who designed additions like the grand stairway.
The architects, Palmer, Requa and Shepherd continued their work, turning two adjacent properties into one mansion from 1925 to 1940.
When Darlington passed away in 1967, the Social Service League of La Jolla bought the property next door with the intention of building apartments to house 52 seniors. But Darlington had stipulated that the lot not be sold unless the organization bought the mansion, so the league bought both properties.
The nonprofit organization uses profits from the Darlington House to subsidize the senior apartments next door, called the League House. The Darlington House plays host to weddings, receptions and parties throughout the year.
The San Diego Historic Site Board named the Darlington House a historic site in 1995. The architects left wooden floors, leaden glass windows, marbled fireplaces, crown molding and many other features. But the Social Service League decided 2008 was the year to give the home another facelift. The last upgrades, in 1972 and in 1969, occurred some time back, said representatives for the home.
New carpet, paint, draperies and wallpaper are among the treatments the home is experiencing before it will reopen Feb. 29, when a couple is scheduled to be married.
Although the league gives tours of the home Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays by appointment, the Darlington House is used for weddings and other celebrations as if it was meant for that purpose.
The split-level patio with tiny white lights is a perfect place to hold the ceremony, Renstrom said.
"It's so magical at night, when it's all lit up," she said.
The upper rose garden patio, with attached library that turns into a bar, seats up to 200 people.
An approved catering list is available to use a full-size kitchen for any party. But, if a bride and groom are getting ready upstairs, they can take advantage of large rooms with balconies overlooking the patio.
Brides use this balcony to throw their bouquet, Renstrom said. Or the photographer takes advantage of its height.
The Darlington House, with all its features, is a little known jewel inside San Diego. From the heavy wooden outer doors Renstrom said Darlington had guests enter through on Sundays for music soirees, to light shining through colored lead glass, the home is a site to experience.
For more information, go to www.darlingtonhouse.com. To book an appointment, call (858) 454-7625.