St. James by the Sea, on Prospect Street in La Jolla, is considered by many as one of the most beautiful churches architecturally, but it is also enjoys one of the most idyllic spots on our beautiful La Jolla coastline. The building sits on property once owned by Ellen Browning Scripps. Ms. Scripps, who lived across the street, deeded the property to the episcopal congregation in the early part of the 20th century. In 2012, during a general clean up of files at St. James, the original deed to the property was found! To insure the documents safety for years to come, it was presented to the La Jolla Historical Society for safekeeping in the Society’s climate controlled archive building across the way.
This church is special to my heart as the Peek family has experienced many family events here. My father Tom Peek began attending here in 1940 when his family moved to La Jolla after his graduation from High school in St. Louis. My cousin Nancy Feehan Wilson, who serves on the vestry, was married there and we have christened many a new addition to the family and gathered to say farewell over the years for those we have loved.
You may notice a beautiful bench out in the front by the fountain and grass area. That bench was commissioned by my father, Tom, to commemorate all our love for his wife and our mom, Ellen. My younger brother Bob Peek, who is an accomplished artist designed the bench and had it cast in Salt Lake City. The back of the bench has 9 slats that represent Tom and Ellen along with us seven children; the seat has 17 slats which represent their 17 grandchildren. The design is quite comfortable to sit in and remember those whose ashes are in the grass triangle memorial garden.
We have been pleased, over the years, to have the opportunity to paint both the exterior and interior of the sanctuary and maintain the varnish work on the gorgeous heavy oak doors. On a building of this age, you can imagine the amount of prep that goes into it! Stucco repairs, rotted wood that needed replacement or repair with epoxy fillers not to mention the many coats of varnish!. But it is a labor of love when you are painting to maintain a building that has provided such a loving home for family and friends over the years.