History & Mission

History of Darlington House

Darlington House is a fascinating blend of Sibyl Darlington’s personal imagination and masterful architectural design by three notable architects from 1925 to 1940.

In 1925, Mrs. Darlington bought the property and hired architect Herbert C. Palmer to design a one-story central structure to join the two small houses on the Olivetas Avenue site.
Six years later, in 1931, Mrs. Darlington engaged Richard Requa, eminent architect and authority on Spanish architecture to create the library addition to the house and Andalusian and Egyptian Patios. The library included elegant built-in oak bookcases and a balcony railing of ornamental grille work of Moorish design as interpreted by Richard Requa. The double wooden doors are fashioned after those in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The library features a Moroccan fireplace inscribed in Arabic with a legend that translates: To the faithful man I will grant whatsoever he believes me capable of giving. The urns (now in the library niches) and the tiles were commissioned from Seville. A mosaic from an Egyptian mosque and antique tiles, including “La Pastora” near the iron gate and library entrance and “St. Vincent Ferrer” seen in the pergola through the library window, complete the scene.

The wooden columns in the Andalusian Patio were hand-carved by Mr. Palmer from designs of Mr. Requa. The marble columns were imported from Spain, Italy, and Greece. The tiles and urns in the Egyptian Patio were recreated in Los Angeles from photographs taken by Mrs. Darlington and Mr. Requa. From Morocco came fountains, benches, and tiles for the garden.

In 1940, La Jolla architect Thomas Shepherd modified the front of the house and added the second story and curving staircase. The Shepherd influence is evident in the skillfully designed second floor addition. He maintained architectural simplicity while at the same time transforming the house into a sizeable mansion and one of the most prized edifices of La Jolla.

In 1995, Darlington House was designated by the San Diego Historical Site Board as Site No. 327 in the Register of Historic Landmarks.


Social Service League of La Jolla

Darlington House is owned and operated by the Social Service League of La Jolla, a non-profit public benefit (501c3) corporation. The mission of the many generous volunteers is to provide housing and meal support to seniors who have lived and worked in the greater San Diego area. Founded in 1929, the Social Service League of La Jolla grew out of the needs of the Great Depression and was officially incorporated in 1947. It is dedicated to providing affordable housing at League House, adjacent to Darlington House, for those who have lived and worked in the San Diego area and who cannot otherwise afford decent housing after retirement. Here, 50 seniors are provided with secure and attractive apartments. Some utilities are included and their evening meal is served in a gracious dining room. A spacious lounge is available for their enjoyment, as are attractive patios.

The Social Service League acquired Darlington House in 1968 from the estate of Mrs. Sybil Darlington.  The primary motive in the purchase was to obtain the 25 feet of vacant property included in the sale, making it possible to add 24 additional units to League House, the building next door, which they maintain for low-income senior citizens. At the time the Social Service League acquired the luxurious house, they were uncertain as to just how they would utilize it. After much consideration, it became apparent that it could provide a much-needed source of revenue for League House. Subsequently, the organization has dedicated much of their time, talents and funds to preserve, maintain and enhance the picturesque home and lovely gardens. Funds raised by Darlington House help support League House. Members of the League also hold other fundraisers throughout the year to enhance this support.

The volunteers of Social Service League of La Jolla give countless hours of their time and talents in order to to preserve and maintain both Darlington House and League House. The League is the only non-profit on the West coast to provide low-income housing without a government subsidy. To enhance this support, our volunteers also hold fundraisers throughout the year. All funds raised through Darlington House directly support the efforts at League House.

Your tax-deductible contributions to Social Service League of La Jolla are greatly appreciated.

For information on how to support Social Service League’s mission contact executivedirector@ssloflj.org