By TRACEY STOTZ
La Mesa Historical Society is preparing to spruce up its McKinney House property.
After months of work, the Society’s Landscape Committee — comprised of board members Tracey Stotz, Jim Newland, Kristin Dooley and Alex Quintero, with input from landscape architect Karen Adams — developed a schematic for the site and presented an initial landscape plan for the McKinney House at its recent annual meeting. A comprehensive plan was last implemented in 1995 and with the recent loss of the property’s 103-year-old Monterey pine last year, it was time to update the design and use plan for the historic property.
“The goal of the plan is to make the site more useable for society events as well as for programming that will allow for more public engagement,” said committee chair Tracey Stotz.
As a historic site, it is also important to retain the character of the historic landscape. To that end, Newland and Adams spent hours reviewing photos of the McKinney House that were taken during La Mesa’s interpretive period (1908–1920) to pin down plants and landscape elements that could be used in the current landscape.
For example, the enormous pine tree was an important part of the site so the society will be planting another tree, as well preserving the original pine with the help of artisan Brian Pederson, who will carve a section of the tree into a bench. The society also will be adding period and locally significant Cherokee roses and other plantings and hardscape elements, such as a trellis, that were present in the interpretive period.
“It isn’t just about recreating the past,” Stotz added, “It is about honoring the past while making the site more engaging in the present.”
To that end, the plan allows for a flex-use area in the backyard, which can be used for educational programs and events. It also incorporates a large display case near the Archives Building, which will provide the society with a place to permanently display large objects that don’t have a place in the McKinney House, such as a printing press from The Scout and historic signage from local businesses. Other interpretive elements are also included along with a new location of the memorial Rose Garden, a new “Society” sign as well as the retention of four very popular lemon trees and a historic “outhouse” structure.
If you have comments on the plan or would like to help with its implementation, please email email@example.com or call 619-466-0197. The next steps will be to finalize the plan with specific details and create construction plans. Then the society will bid out elements of the project as funding is available, as well as round up volunteers and donors to help take on other tasks.
The board sees this as a multi-year effort and welcomes community support. If you could assist with demolition or construction activities, please contact the LMHS Landscape Committee at the above email or phone number.
— Tracey Stotz is a board member of the La Mesa Historical Society.