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Why "Normal Heights"?

Safely assumed answer is over 100 years old

4935 Mansfield, the prize (house not included) for naming Normal Heights
4935 Mansfield, the prize (house not included) for naming Normal Heights

"Why is this neighborhood named 'Normal Heights'?" is a question asked frequently by residents and non-residents of this neighborhood. Here is the answer:

In 1905, when Col. D.C. Collier and the University Heights Syndicate bought the unnamed mesa lying east of Boundary Street, the land was not as described by the author in a previous article; i.e., high and dry and dusty and covered with not much more than sagebrush and jackrabbits. (Journal of San Diego History, Vol. 52, Winter/Spring 2006, p. 20.)

What Collier and the Syndicate purchased from U.S. Grant, Jr. was for many years the John H. Gay Ranch, with buildings, houses, two reservoirs, and 5900 bearing fruit trees — apples, pears, peaches, plums, mulberries, alligator pears, Mexican limes, lemons, and acres of seedless grapes.

The mesa was cleared, the land platted, and the north-south streets numbered, while six east-west streets were named for U.S. presidents. Meade Avenue was outside the southern boundary of the original subdivision, and Ward Road was a county road.

All that was missing was a formal name for this new subdivision, so an inspired Collier held a naming contest. His ad, published in the October 29, 1905, edition of the San Diego Union and Daily Bee, stated boldly, "Just Think Of It! A Building Lot Free." Collier offered a lot 50 feet wide to the entrant who submitted the best name.

One month and 620 suggested names after his ad appeared in the newspaper, Ms. Eve Fletcher of 1030 15th Street was named the winner for submitting the name "Normal Heights." Lot Eight in Block Eight of Normal Heights was deeded to Fletcher on May 26, 1906. The address was 4935 40th Street (Mansfield).

We can assume Fletcher combined "Normal" from the Normal School in University Heights and added "Heights," which was pretty obvious, given the elevation.

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4935 Mansfield, the prize (house not included) for naming Normal Heights
4935 Mansfield, the prize (house not included) for naming Normal Heights

"Why is this neighborhood named 'Normal Heights'?" is a question asked frequently by residents and non-residents of this neighborhood. Here is the answer:

In 1905, when Col. D.C. Collier and the University Heights Syndicate bought the unnamed mesa lying east of Boundary Street, the land was not as described by the author in a previous article; i.e., high and dry and dusty and covered with not much more than sagebrush and jackrabbits. (Journal of San Diego History, Vol. 52, Winter/Spring 2006, p. 20.)

What Collier and the Syndicate purchased from U.S. Grant, Jr. was for many years the John H. Gay Ranch, with buildings, houses, two reservoirs, and 5900 bearing fruit trees — apples, pears, peaches, plums, mulberries, alligator pears, Mexican limes, lemons, and acres of seedless grapes.

The mesa was cleared, the land platted, and the north-south streets numbered, while six east-west streets were named for U.S. presidents. Meade Avenue was outside the southern boundary of the original subdivision, and Ward Road was a county road.

All that was missing was a formal name for this new subdivision, so an inspired Collier held a naming contest. His ad, published in the October 29, 1905, edition of the San Diego Union and Daily Bee, stated boldly, "Just Think Of It! A Building Lot Free." Collier offered a lot 50 feet wide to the entrant who submitted the best name.

One month and 620 suggested names after his ad appeared in the newspaper, Ms. Eve Fletcher of 1030 15th Street was named the winner for submitting the name "Normal Heights." Lot Eight in Block Eight of Normal Heights was deeded to Fletcher on May 26, 1906. The address was 4935 40th Street (Mansfield).

We can assume Fletcher combined "Normal" from the Normal School in University Heights and added "Heights," which was pretty obvious, given the elevation.

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Comments
12

Perhaps they should change it back to "Gay Ranch".

Aug. 7, 2016

Great history Suzanne, but to get the "real" story on how Ms. Eve Fletcher submitted the winning name, where the name came from, one has to go back to 1898 when the "Normal College" was established in the area that would become known as Normal Heights. A "normal" school was a college created to train teachers. Its purpose was to establish "norms" in teaching standards, thus the name Normal.

And of course Normal College later became . . . . . . . . . San Diego State University.

"And now you know the rest of the story" - Paul Harvey

Aug. 8, 2016

Did Ms. Fletcher work at Normal College? If not, it has to be said that the school was not located in what is now Normal Heights, it sat in the southern portion of University Heights, almost in Hillcrest (now the San Diego Unified district headquarters). So I'm thinking the "Normal" name is more coincidental with the two than anything else.

Aug. 8, 2016

I should know the answer to this. Are you saying the building is still there as the SDUSD headquarters, or thats the location of the now SDUSD offices?

Aug. 9, 2016

The historic "Teachers Annex #1" building is still there. But it's rotting away, and efforts to restore it have stalled for many years, including plans to make it the new University Heights Library.

Aug. 9, 2016

Found no employment history for Eve Fletcher. Yes, the Normal School was in University Heights. That fact was established over 100 years ago, and the name "Normal Heights" may be coincidental. Wish someone had interviewed her after she won the lot. Then we'd be certain.

Aug. 8, 2016

I live in Las Alturas Normales.

We call the house, Casa Normal :)

Aug. 8, 2016

Good points. Normal Collage was big enough, it didn't have to be in the future Normal Heights area to be taken notice of. Back then there was nothing in between these neighborhoods. Large buildings such as these would have attracted attention from folks miles away.

Aug. 8, 2016

Ken, one promoter envisioned an archway illuminated with incandescent light bulbs at the east end of Adams Avenue before the bridge and trolley were built across Ward Canyon to Kensington. That's a story for another day.

Aug. 8, 2016

That would have looked really cool, if it had lasted until our time.

Aug. 9, 2016

The promoter turned out to be a first class con man who took the money and ran-----to L. A.

Aug. 9, 2016

Then he became a movie producer, right? ;-)

Aug. 12, 2016

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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