Valley Center happenings: Frank Lloyd Wright, Dos Valles Garden Club awards

Winners of the Smokey the Bear and Woodsy Owl poster-poem contest, courtesy of Dos Valles Garden Club/Sue Reynolds

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150 — Valley Center connection

— Robert Lerner

This Frank Lloyd Wright house in Iowa was said to be the inspiration for a home designed by his architect son in Valley Center/Courtesy

Museums and architectural societies around the country are celebrating the 150th birthday this month of Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s best known architect.At the Valley Center History Museum, a display has been posted to note that work of the iconic architect is reflected in two local properties.

In 1959, the year Wright died, one of his sons, John Lloyd Wright, was hired to design a home on a 10.5-acre bluff on North Lake Wohlford Road that echoes the architectural concept of his famous father. The home of 2,900 square feet has been compared to an extant Wright house in Iowa that was built in 1908.

Original blueprints of the Valley Center house, signed by Wright, were examined by local historians when they were found in a bedroom closet inside the home in 2004. According to documentation at the Valley Center Historical Society,the home was commissioned by industrialist-turned-rancher Willis H. Merrill who, in 1967, would become the first president of Valley Center Rotary.

Merrill sold the house in 1973.  Since that time, the property has changed hands multiple times including a stint as a boarding school.  Its present owner purchased the historic home in 2012. Elsewhere in Valley Center, John Lloyd Wright, who worked briefly with his famous father, was commissioned in 1949 to design an office for United Nations Ambassador Irving Salomon at historic Rancho Lilac on Lilac Road.

In 1958, Wright designed another home on N. Lake Wohlford Road.  The complicated design attracted no bids from contractors.

The History Museum at 29200 Cole Grade Road is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12 noon to 4 p.m.  Admission is free.  For more information, visit or call (760) 749-2993.

Meet your newly installed Dos Valles Garden Cub officers (L-R) Bob Nobel, treasurer; Dianne Clark, secretary; Larry Mummey, vice-president; David Rylaarsdam, president/Dos Valles Garden Club

Dos Valles Garden Club hosts busy awards luncheon and other events

— Sue Reynolds

Over 100 members and guests celebrated the recent Dos Valles Garden Club Awards Luncheon, where three collegiate students were awarded $1,000 scholarships and grammar school students received blue ribbons and awards for their creative Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl Posters and Poems.

Scholarships for college were awarded to Chandler Hall, Andrew McKeown and Sullivan Shimer.  Helen Borchelt, scholarship chair, presented the generous checks.

Hall’s interest in agriculture began when she moved to Valley Center as a fifth grader and began her own egg production business, selling eggs to family, friends and her father’s co-workers. She recently graduated high school and will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this fall, majoring in dairy science. She was awarded the Joan Patten Memorial Scholarship.

As president and secretary of the Future Farmers of America, she has been a member of the Valley Center FFA’s Livestock Judging Team, Meat Evaluation Team and Public Speaking Team.  Hall hopes to establish herself in the dairy industry and eventually become an agriculture teacher, FFA adviser and field hockey coach.

McKeown’s career goals were set as he grew up in Valley Center, where his father, the resident troubleshooter for San Diego Gas and Electric, impressed upon him the importance of the agricultural community in this region. The young man learned that affordable energy is critical for family farms, so he is studying electrical engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to help make energy more affordable and efficient. He says, “I plan to use my degree to benefit the people and culture around me in whatever capacity I am able.”

Shimer also grew up in Valley Center, where he was evacuated from his family home twice—in the 2003 and 2007 wildfires. This fall, he will be a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a major in forestry and natural resources. He says, “I decided to pursue a career as a wildland firefighter. I chose this career because I want to help others in need, in addition to promoting fire safety and improving our forests throughout the United States.”

More Awards & DVGC Business

Carol Curcio presented awards to grammar school students for their Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl posters, and poems and essays about nature.

The Award of Appreciation was given to Cat Melvin, for her artistic designs of the DVGC flyers and her work on the greenhouse and plant sales, and the Flower Show Design Award was presented to Pauline Sechi.

In honor of her service as president, Mavany Verdugo was presented with a lifetime membership in the club. The DVGC earned a Blue Ribbon Certificate of Achievement from the California Garden Clubs, Inc.

New Officers Installed

David Rylaarsdam was installed as the new president; Larry Mummey as vice president; Dianne Clark as recording secretary and Bob Nobel as treasurer. Velma West, a member since 1976, installed the new officers.  She also received a Distinguished Service Award in honor of her many years of service to the club.

The keeper of the “purse strings” Connie Lee announced distribution of funds to these local groups: Valley Center Teacher Parent Connection – AG Day $500; Valley Center Middle School – Thunderhawk Farm $700; Oak Glen High School – ROP Floraculture $400; Valley Center High School – ROP Floraculture $500 and Valley Center Friends of the Library $400.

Plant/Rummage Sale This Saturday, June 24

The Club earns money for such community support with its plant sales, the next scheduled for this Saturday, June 24, from 8 am until 12 noon at the Martin Gang Ranch, 28933 Cole Grade Road, Valley Center.

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