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History shines as library tour returns

Miramar Ranch Courtyard, circa 1900.

History shines as library tour returns

By Nick Ng

With spring as the symbol for life’s renewal, head librarian Matt Beatty of the Scripps Miramar Ranch Library believes it is time to revive the library tour.

The tour sends attendees back in time to San Diego’s pre-Columbian history and
forward to the events and people that shaped the Scripps Ranch community.

“It is my goal to give attendees a sense of what an unusual building the library is and to give them a sense of the history of the land on which it stands,” Beatty said. “I think that this library is special in a way that no other library in Southern California is.”

The library building echoes the post-modern architecture of the E.W. Scripps Mansion, which was demolished in 1973. The mansion once stood where the nearby Scripps Ranch Swim and Racquet Club stands today. The customized stained-glass window art, forged by artist Robert Spaulding, reflects Scripps Ranch’s eucalyptus trees and rocky landscape. The library also houses artifacts from the Meanley House that once stood just southeast of the building. These include the wooden doors that separate the children’s area from the reference area.

Former head librarians Nancy Corbin Assaf and Trevor Jones, along with many volunteers, gave tours of the library until the COVID-19 pandemic hit San Diego in March 2020.

Following his promotion to his current position at Scripps Miramar Ranch Library last year, Beatty began to consider himself as a “caretaker of what is a neighborhood treasure.” He and other staff members have been slowly restarting several programs, including the Scripps Ranch Friends of the Library concert series and the children’s story hour. The tour is another addition to bringing back some normalcy to the library community.

The live tours will cover the history of the library and nearby properties, including some history of the Scripps family that established residence near it in 1900, as well as the Kumeyaay people who lived in the area before the Spaniards arrived in San Diego. Beatty will also cover the stories behind the antique photos that decorate the library’s interior, the remains of the wall of the Meanley House, and Evan’s Pond that is in front of the library.

The Meanley House was the home of Tom Meanley and Nackey Scripps Meanley, who were the son-in-law and daughter, respectively, of E.W. Scripps. They were given 100 acres by the Scripps family home to build their home, and Evans Pond and the library are on that estate.

“The manager who was most involved in the planning of the current library was Nancy Assaf,” Beatty said. “She managed the older, smaller library off Scripps Lake Drive, and played a major role in the planning of this building. She related to me how the community gathered to move books hand-over-hand from the old building to the new one.”

In early 1986, Anna Tatar, who was the San Diego Library director at the time, offered Assaf a job at the new Scripps Miramar Ranch Library.

“It was a beginning level librarian position, so no one was very interested in applying for it. There was no promotional value to it,” Assaf laughed. “It took six years to work out all the details that they wanted for the new library. They wanted a lot of special things: the site, the Evan’s Pond, the parking situation. People were thrilled when we opened the new library for business in 1993.”

Assaf remembers attending fundraisers with the Friends of the Library at the house before it was demolished in February 1988.

“We stood on the property. They had a ranch, animals, and horseback riding,” she recalled. “The Friends [of the Library] had a party in the house as the last hurrah for the home. Then it was closed down, things were taken out and brought over to the new [library].”

Assaf hopes that the tour will also educate attendees about the amount of time and labor needed to create the community it is today.

“The Scripps Ranch Library is fortunate to have a large, dedicated [Friends of the Library] group who have been involved in developing our goals to being an integral part of the community,” Beatty said. “They developed a very popular concert series and recently bought high quality furniture for our courtyard. This has proven quite fortuitous since the chairs and benches have been utilized heavily during the pandemic.”

The tour will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 16. It will last about one hour.

Contact Matt Beatty for more information at MBeatty@sandiego.gov or call
(858) 538-8157.

Evan’s Pond with the Scripps Miramar Ranch library in the background. (photo by Riley Apon)