An endowment fund that would help to preserve and rebuild older buildings in Balboa Park was established Friday, as donations totaling $225,000 were announced at a ceremony in the park.
A $150,000 donation from the memorial fund of Arthur P. and Jeanette G. Pratt, along with $75,000 from California First Bank, mark the beginning of a project that is targeted to reach $10 million in contributions, said Joseph W. Hibben, president of the board of governors for the San Diego Community Foundation, which is administering the fund. The City of San Diego will supervise the fund.
Mayor Roger Hedgecock, who attended the ceremony with other city representatives, said, “We have a 20-year needs list for Balboa Park. That list shows that we will need $68.25 million in funding . . . just to keep the park consistent with the quality that stands today, and to accommodate the constantly growing numbers of people using the park.”
The House of Charm, House of Hospitality, Administration Building and the Starlight Bowl stage are among the facilities that are in “desperate need of reconstruction,” Hedgecock said. He added that many other buildings need substantial repairs.
Hibben said he expects to reach the $10-million goal with support from the San Diego community.
“It might be a few short months, or a few years, but we will get there,” Hibben said. He has set no time frame for reaching the goal.
Most of the park’s buildings were constructed for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915. The buildings were built as temporary structures, according to Hibben, who said that wood, chicken wire and plaster are about all that hold some of the buildings together.
“The older buildings would be replaced by buildings of modern construction, with the identical footprint and decoration,” Hibben said.