The Improbable Journey of Frankie and James

Posted on Jul 19, 2013 in Popular


The deed recorded in 1913 and photographed by one T Fader, The San Diego Deputy Recorder at the time, spelled out all of the rules for Lot 94 of what was known as the Point Loma Villas at the time.  For a paltry sum of $10, Amelia Bridges had just purchased title to what must have been the most sought after location in San Diego.

The Ball Bearing Changes the World

The Lot located on the top of Point Loma with sweeping panoramic views of what must have been a much emptier San Diego was the ideal place for Amelia Timkin Bridges grand plans.  Amelia was the daughter of Henry Timkins who had left her lots and lots of money – certainly much more than the $10 that she had just spent on Lot 94.

Henry Timkins was an inventor that had good timing.  He invented the “Tapered Roller Bearing” in 1898 right at the time when it was needed for the production of cars, trucks and tractors.  By 1923, 90% of the country’s production came from Timkin.   His bearings were used in everything (trains, conveyors, elevators and aircraft engines).

Henry Timkin was a rich man indeed and he had a mustache that any hipster Brooklyn artisan pickle maker would be proud of.



The Document that Frankie and James Blatantly ignored.

Amelia Bridges sat reviewing the deed before signing it to make sure everything was in order.  There were the usual restrictions; no more than 5 personal residences could be built on the property, no stores or factories could be built on the land, no house less than $10,000 could be built on the land, no intoxicating liquors should be sold on the property and of course no Turkeys, Ducks or Geese could be farmed on the land.

Then there were the restrictions that unfortunately were a big part of San Diego History at the time and not well publicized or known even today.  In the deed, Amelia must have glanced at item #6 and not have even given it a second thought even though today it would be unthinkable.  “6. That said property shall never be sold to any but members of the Caucasion Race“.  huh?  Double Take. Really?

2422 Alcott Court

If you can’t read that very clearly, here it is in Black and White


Now the Amelia Bridges of today would probably never have signed a deed with this type of restriction, in fact she went on to become one of San Diego’s greatest philanthropist donating much of her wealth to create the buildings and museums that you might visit in Balboa Park.

Rich White Pure European People and San Diego’s Dirty Secret

I always wondered why I never see any For Sale signs on houses in La Jolla.   In fact the only way to find an open house in La Jolla on a Sunday is to look for balloons in front of the house.  That is the tip that you can go inside and take a look.  Well, the fact is that La Jolla, just like Point Loma used to be a place where only rich white people wanted other rich white people to live.

Going back to the early 1900’s, La Jolla had such a deep anti-semitic feeling that a “La Jolla Covenant” was created.  This gentlemen’s agreement restricted Jewish people from buying homes, creating businesses and joining country clubs.  The Real Estate Associations were the worst and they forbid putting up of For Sale signs since they didn’t want Jewish people to know which houses were for sale.  When properties were sold they often contained standard language that the property could only be sold to people of “pure European Ancestry”.

For a town that has lead the battle to let Seals feel welcome on their beaches, La Jolla certainly didn’t always make everyone feel welcome. To this day, La Jolla does not allow For Sale signs claiming that it is an “eyesore” and hurts the neighborhood.   I live in La Jolla and my neighbor Mitt Romney seems to know a thing or two about signs that are an eye-sore in La Jolla.  After all his campaign had them plastered all over the neighborhood while he was running for President.

A few of the million eyesore Elect Romney signs that littered La Jolla last year.


The Improbable Probability Realized.

In February 2013, 100 years after Amelia Bridges reviewed and signed that deed for $10 a small article was published with the title, “Point Loma’s Historic Building X hits the Market”.  Between the time that Amelia had signed the paperwork and 100 years later that parcel of land became one of the more historic places in San Diego.

She built a mansion on the property for $130,000.  Rife (a famous inventor) lived there and went on to create astounding microscopes used in Science.  The building was taken over by the US Military during the war and used as a Submarine Command Post.

This and countless other historic things happened from that home, in fact, many other famous San Diego buildings in Balboa Park were conceived and paid for people living in that home.


Well Michael and Bridget ended up getting that historic home several months later and in doing so blatantly ignored the rules set forth by the Union Title Trust Company which forbid any non-caucasion from buying the home.   When Michael discovered the original deed and its language it was actually quite laughable in its absurdity but also made them think just how poorly non-whites were treated in San Diego just a short time ago.

It’s ironic that there were restrictions on selling the land to say hispanics which today makeup almost 35% of the entire population of San Diego, not to mention Pacific Islander and other races that makeup a large portion of the community.   How times have changed.

Into the Mansion

It was just a year ago that Michael and Bridget adopted Frankie and James. Oliver now has two brothers and life is looking up for them in their new estate.  It’s fun to look at the boys in the posh setting and soak in the beautiful irony of what it is.

The elegant music room as it was.  High Falutant Hoity Toity’s would drink their Champagne discussing “Tennis”


Today, Frankie and James explore cupcakes in the same room.


Fancy Billard Tables undoubtedly were used to spread mountains of cash out before each bill was carefully ironed by an army of servants.


Today, Frankie and James pose for Fancy pictures in the same rooms.


Large rooms with fancy furnishings and over abundance of rocking chairs.  Everyone had to have a rocking chair.


Frankie doesn’t need a rocking chair.  This chair will do just fine.


Just the beginnings of that improbable journey

Historic Building X in San Diego really is a crown jewel of the city.  The history, charm and beauty of the place has to be seen to be believed.  The Bridges were generous and incredible philanthropist to the city.  The home that the built still contains all the love and generosity that they put into it.

As for Frankie and James, I am sure that this is only the beginning of their improbable journey.  Where it leads, time will tell.