2017: One Hundred Years in Balboa Park

Most members know our proud legacy dates back to 1874, when our founders incorporated our organization as the San Diego Society of Natural History. For many years, the group met in various locations, including the Hotel Cecil downtown.

It was not until 100 years ago that we first took up residence in Balboa Park. The Panama-California Exposition had opened in 1915-16, and after it closed there was much debate about the future of the buildings, which had not been designed to be permanent. However, in February 1917 the Society was able to purchase a lease on the Nevada Building for $500, and for the first time all the specimen collections and library resources were moved into Balboa Park from Hotel Cecil.

Within a few years the Nevada Building, which was located where the San Diego Zoo now sits, was scheduled for demolition along with numerous other buildings created for the Exposition. As more and more donations and collections of research specimens, including fossils, shells, birds, and others accumulated, the Museum continued to grow and need more room.

Finally in 1932, after several other moves within the Park, our present home, designed by William Templeton Johnson and aided by a major donation by Ellen Browning Scripps, was constructed. In our final reincarnation, the addition of our new wing was completed in 2001. How fortunate we are in 2017 to be able to celebrate a century in Balboa Park, the jewel of San Diego! 

Posted By Director of the Research Library Margi Dykens.

Subscribe to our blog. Receive an email once a week that recaps the latest blog posts about our research, exhibitions, cool science news, and more