Historic Gate Restoration Project

The Talmadge gates are located on the southern and eastern boundaries of Talmadge Park Unit #3 and Talmadge Park Estates Unit #1 and placed to identify key entrances into the subdivisions. The gates are in eight locations (each location consists of two gates): Highland Avenue, Euclid Avenue, 48th Street, Estrella Avenue (the east gate was removed by the City after being hit by a car in the early 1970′s), 49th Street, Monroe Avenue, Madison Avenue and Adams Avenue.

On November 17, 1999, Talmadge residents Charles Kaminski and Fred Lindahl, went before the San Diego Historical Resources Board (HRB) seeking to designate the gates as a single historic district. There was discussion about the merits of designating the gates individually or as a district. The Board directed City staff to set the item for hearing as a historic district at their December meeting, and requested that “infill” criteria be provided for restoration and future improvements. On May 25, 2000, the Historic Resources Board declared the Talmadge Gates, San Diego Historic District #422.

The Historic District runs along Monroe Avenue from 44th Street to 49th Street, turning the corner, along 49th Street from Monroe to Adams Avenue. The district includes the street right-of-way connecting the gateways, including an additional street section south and east of each gate. However, private property, such as yards and houses, is not part of the historic corridor.

The gates were designed in the mid-1920′s by engineer Frank R. Carlson and cast in 1927 at Union Machine Works in San Diego, at 406 West Market Street, at a cost of $1,000 per gate. See more about the history and design of the gates here.

The gates are wrought iron and weigh approximately 450 pounds each. The gates are approximately 10 feet wide and almost 15 feet high, and are decorated with fanciful curves and shapes reminiscent of Andalusian iron work. The gates south of Monroe Avenue have a symmetrical arch frame spanning the sidewalk with a decorative light fixture. The gates east of 49th Street (as well as on Highland Avenue) have a flat arch frame crossing the sidewalk and an arched “giraffe” neck arm that supports a decorative light fixture.

Over the years, the gates have been vandalized and maintenance by the City has been minimal. There is significant rust, damage to the iron supports and deteriorating metal that poses a threat to pedestrians should the gates deteriorate further.
Glass in some of the light fixtures is missing, or broken, which has rendered them useless in providing appropriate lighting for the area.

To restore these historic features, Talmadge residents Jim Blevins, Chuck Kaminsky and Fred Lindahl, received $108,000 in the form of Community Development Block Grants funds, with the support of Council Member Toni Atkins, to begin long awaited restoration.

August 6, 2002, marked the beginning of an exciting and ambitious historic restoration project. Under the careful supervision of Jim Gibson, and Talmadge residents George Diefenthal and Fred Lindahl, the crew from Gibson and Gibson Antique Lighting began the first step in a meticulous restoration process. The first set of gates were removed from Highland Avenue by crane, placed on a truck, then moved to Gibson and Gibson’s iron works shop in Chula Vista.

Scope of work for the restoration project required Gibson and Gibson to:
1. Remove each gate at base (saw cut at sidewalk level) and “cut” into approximately three parts.
2. Sandblast each piece down to original metal and re-weld joints.
3. Repair/replace or install new ornamental sections as required.
4. Drill/ repair holes – strategically for effective hot dip galvanization treatment.
5. Powder coat each gate.
6. Remove electric fixture and wiring (the original wiring was still in place).
7. Install new water proof wiring from electrical pull box to fixture
8. Repair/replace or install new lantern and new light bulb.
9. Install reconditioned gates at street location

Restoration cost was approximately $14,000 per gate and took four to six weeks per location depending on the extent of deterioration. Additional costs were permits, electrician fees and sidewalk replacement/ADA enhancements. To date only the gates located at Highland Avenue, 48th Street and 49th Street have been restored.

If you have questions or would like to volunteer for this committee, please contact Kelly Waggonner at tmadchair@talmadge.org