Rancho Santa Fe - A Homage to lilian Rice

An architectural icon, lilian rice embellished the natural beauty of Rancho Santa Fe

Shattering Glass Ceilings by Breaking Ground: A homage to Lilian Rice, architectural icon. Rancho Santa Fe is an idyllic Southern California town, rich in texture with its layers of bucolic beauty and distinguished dwellings. One of the oldest planned communities in the state, it continues to sparkle at roughly 100 years young. Not to be discounted are the acres of lush orange groves, majestic mountain views and sprawling ranches that cast a spell on all who pass through the community's vast expanse, but it's the captivating and architecturally curious downtown that make this small, historical little village feel so enduring and contemporary.

Many thanks can be spread amongst those who realized so long ago that this fraction of land had incredible potential, but if not for the talents of its master planner, the Spanish Revival styled enclave would not be what it is today. 

Lilian Rice, a visionary and pioneer, was one of California's earliest female architects and in the early 1920's, she fell in love with the area where desert elements are kissed by the sun and the sea. The simplicity and bountiful nature just beyond the reach of the shoreline in San Diego's North County region inspired the young designer, prompting her to dream up much of the town's current composition. 

Marrying her imagination to her sketch pad, Ms. Rice thoughtfully crafted structures that could coexist with the rolling hills and greenery without diminishing the beauty of the natural landscape. And so today, the body of her work including eleven structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places exists to serve the Rancho Santa Fe community with timeless charm as the landscape of surrounding towns continues to be redefined.

Lilian Rice was ahead of her time. One of the original modern day working women, she balanced a voracious appetite to learn with an incomparable work ethic, and whimsical ability to play. She was an influencer in every way and lived a full albeit short life. She was both fierce and fearless and truly blazed a trail, the scorch marks forever etched throughout the landscape of Rancho Santa Fe. 

Today, a newly unveiled statue stands in the town's North Village Park honoring this innovator and her legacy continues to be enjoyed by all who inhabit and visit this remarkable, historic California destination.

By Lyndsay Camins - Photography by Meg Nobriga - Historical Lilian Rice photos, courtesy of the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society.

Fashion and Art Direction by Amy Davis