The 1920’s: building infrastructure for a new town

It was during the late teens and early twenties that most of the ground work and infrastructure of community awareness was built. A sense of unity developed among the growing population as churches, theaters, hotels, and newspapers all established footholds in the community. Neighbors pulled together to face adversity as well as to build something new and beneficial. This realization that together they could build something important laid the groundwork for city incorporation 30 years later.

In 1922, Sally Troutman and her friend Marion Holmes started the first children's Sunday school in town. By 1924 the Sunday school had given birth to the Carlsbad Union Church, a denomination of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. Much of Carlsbad’s nascent social and cultural life revolved around the Union Church activities. Their church slogan adopted in 1920, " In the Heart of the Community with the Community at Heart", is still in use today and emphasized the commingling of church and community activities prevalent from the very beginning of the church 's establishment.

Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries James and Marjorie Spencer arrived in Carlsbad in 1924 to establish a small mission church. Located south of Elm Street, the Spencers moved to the heart of the newly built Mexican neighborhood. The residents knew this area of Carlsbad as Barrio Carlos, most of whom had recently arrived to work in the agricultural fields and groves. A gentleman by the name of La Betta constructed small wooden homes to house the immigrants. These houses that were purchased for $500 were paid off in monthly installments and provided the foundation for Carlsbad's first neighborhood subdivision. In 1927 the Reverend John Henley, his wife Ruth and son John arrived in town to continue the Mission work and relieve the Spencers, who were off to South America. The Henley's remained within Barrio Carlos working and raising their family until the 1950s. Reverend Henley was totally devoted to his Missionary flock, even working in the flower fields as a majordomo for the Frazees.

Members of Reverend Henley’s Church remember his sermons and admonishments about attending the Carlsbad Theater located on State Street that opened in 1927. Carlsbad builders Chester Craig, F. H. Tolle, H. E. Fleisher, R. G. Chase and Robert Baird financed the $40,000 construction. The theater opened in February 1927 with the Silent Movie "IT" starring Clara Bow, billed as the "IT" girl. Many critics viewed the theater as too grand for small town Carlsbad. The interior was decorated in ten to fifteen foot high murals painted by a one armed Scotsman, Alexander William Mac Rae. The Murals had themes that depicted Carlsbad and the surrounding areas done in tones of soft greens, misty violets, clear blues and dashes of sunsets. Places that were immortalized in the murals were San Luis Rey Mission, Lakes Hodges and Henshaw, Oceanside Pier, a Carlsbad Collage of Avocados, bulb gardens and green houses and Encinitas.

A large enough Catholic population lived in Carlsbad by 1924 to warrant establishment of Saint Patrick's Mission Church, administered by the Franciscan Fathers of Mission San Luis Rey. The first Sunday Mass celebrated in Carlsbad was in the Crain Store on Grand Avenue. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Krueztkamp donated land on Harding and Oak for the building of a permanent Church in 1927. The Santa Fe Railroad supplied the Church bell and Mr. and Mrs. Albert Cohn donated money towards the altar. Building funds were procured through the Catholic Church Extension fund in Chicago. Separation from San Luis Rey mission was finalized in 1943. New Church buildings were constructed in 1950 on Harding Street and again in 1983 on Tamarack and Adams to accommodate the increase in Church population.

The Adventist Christian Church bought six building lots in the subdivision of Granville Park, which was located just south of the Buena Vista Lagoon and west of the Railroad tracks. Granville Park, originally planned in 1922 as a subdivision, was never quite able to develop into the planned neighborhood. The Adventist Church established annual summer camps on their property. At times the weekend attendance would reach as high as 500 people.

One of the most significant community events in the 1920s was establishment of the local weekly newspaper, the Carlsbad Champion, in 1925. Begun by William Maxwell, the Champion filled the gap left in reporting community events when W. W. Borden's Spirit of Love newspaper closed in 1924. Borden, who started his publishing career in 1882 with the first issue of "Our Paper", printed in Barham, later known as San Marcos, covered a wide circulation area that included news from Escondido to the coast. Once Bordon began printing the Spirit of Love in 1900 from his Harding Street shop, he focused more intently on Carlsbad.

Following Borden's example, Maxwell adopted the Spirit of Love slogan " Independent but not Neutral "for the Champion. While continuing in Borden's footsteps, the Champion provided an invaluable service to Carlsbad residents, informing them of local as well as national news and thus providing a link to the outside world. It was the Champion, later known as the Carlsbad Journal, which linked the residents and gave them a sense of place and community. The newspaper recorded all items of interest, such as births, marriages, deaths, who was growing what and how much it was selling for, where people were going on vacation, what the Chamber of Commerce was up to, as well as the local schools and churches. The paper also informed and helped to rally the citizenry to local causes when necessary. For the next 70 years the newspaper recorded almost all the events in town, becoming the de-facto record keepers and historians for Carlsbad.

Carlsbad continued its steady growth pattern throughout the 1920s. Constant improvements were undertaken, upgrading the conditions of the downtown area. In hopes of enticing new business to town, lateral sewage lines were laid in addition to the construction of a sewage treatment plant. When the town suffered a devastating fire in 1927 that wiped out six businesses and damaged many others at a cost of $40,000, the town and the residents sprung back and rebuilt. On the night of April 8, 1929, a fire started on State Street in the Carlsbad Sweet Shop, located in the wooden Killian Building. Six businesses were destroyed because there was no local fire service, no nearby water mains and no fire hydrants. Within a week, plans were underway to reconstruct the Killian building, this time in brick, and to relocate the businesses destroyed. A collection was undertaken by other shop owners in town to pay Oceanside fire fighters who responded that night. They even remembered to collect an additional $30 as a donation for the local Boy Scout troop under the guidance and leadership of Scout Master Dewey McClellan, who showed up the night of the fire and relocated all the Drug Stores goods out of harms way and guarded the bank. Not much seemed to keep Carlsbad residents down, not even when the stock market crashed in 1929. Construction of the California Carlsbad Mineral Spring Hotel continued and it opened with great fanfare in 1930. Capitalizing on the mineral well fame, the Eastman Hotel Company constructed a lavish hotel on Carlsbad Boulevard. The hotel offered a health clinic that included mineral baths as well as exercise classes broadcast on radio station KNX Los Angeles led by Dr. P. M. Seixas. Besides the health related services, the Hotel provided their guests with all manner of comforts, lavish restaurants, ballrooms and sun parlors. All brought a touch of elegance to small town Carlsbad.

Directly across the street from the California Carlsbad Mineral Spring Hotel, C.O. Williams constructed an 18-hole miniature golf course that also opened in 1930. The entire project was illuminated at night and the landscaped grounds housed a clubhouse with an Egyptian canopy. A running brook with waterfalls passed through the golf course fed from an artesian well. The landscaping consisted of a combination of Monterey cypress, palms, ferns, flowering moss and roses, planted throughout the golf course. It was billed as the second largest course in the state of California.