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Local with deep community roots now Heritage Museum director

Barbara Grice stands in front of the Teten House at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum. Grice, whose family history goes back a ways in Encinitas, recently took over as executive director.
( / Jared Whitlock)

Barbara Grice, a descendant of Encinitas pioneers, is now the executive director of the San Dieguito Heritage Museum.

In her new role, she’s responsible for gaining new visitors, overseeing an expansion and preserving key pieces of history. It’s a fitting job considering her family’s deep roots in the community.

“I started volunteering at the museum about 10 years ago to learn more about my family tree — something I actually didn’t know a lot about,” Grice said. “And here I am now.”

Grice’s great-great grandfather, Edward Hammond, built Encinitas’ first schoolhouse nearly 130 years ago on the Pacific View property in downtown Encinitas. The Hammonds doubled the population of Encinitas from 11 to 22 when they arrived in the city.

And her father, Bob Grice, who passed away seven years ago, was well known throughout the community. He served as a trustee of the San Dieguito Union High School District, was the Grand Marshal of the 2006 Encinitas Christmas Parade and even helped found the heritage museum.

Ironically enough, she didn’t have much of an interest in history until she discovered the heritage museum, located at 450 Quail Gardens Drive. These days, though, she she’s hooked.

“It’s fascinating to me, seeing the various periods, looking at the Kumeyaay and how they survived, for instance,” Grice said. “There’s so much.”

Grice, a Cardiff resident, added the museum is valuable because it chronicles the different time periods.

“So much can change in 30 years and you want to hold on to it,” she said. “I mean, I remember riding to the beach on my horse not long ago.”

One of her main priorities is the museum’s planned expansion, which aims to offer a fuller picture of the area’s history.

Currently, the museum has everything from old photographs to an old stagecoach to the Teten House, built in 1885 in Olivenhain. Grice noted the museum is fundraising for new exhibits, including a barn that would house historic documents and double as a meeting place.

Grice also has the goal of getting the word out, whether through social media or being more involved with nonprofits and clubs.

“There are people who drive by here year after year and they don’t know we exist,” she said. “So we want to be more visible.”

Along the same lines, she’s confident a newly formed group called E3 will help draw more visitors to the museum.

The museum, San Diego Botanic Garden, Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) and others recently started E3 to nourish a host of educational initiatives between Quail Gardens Drive and Saxony Road.

The idea is members would share resources and collaborate on programming.

That way, people would be encouraged to visit the museum’s expansion, EUSD’s farm across the street and a Botanic Garden pavilion on the drawing board, possibly all in the same day.

In addition to being surrounded by historical artifacts, Grice said one of her favorite parts of the job is hearing stories from old-timers.

“You get a lot of people who have been in Encinitas for a while visiting,” Grice said. “The other day, someone was telling me about how they’d leave their surfboards at Moonlight Beach for months at a time and it wasn’t a big deal.”

Grice moved to Colorado a few times over the years, only to find herself back in Encinitas. Like many in her family, she just can’t leave.

“I’d miss the beach, the people when away,” she said. “It’s tough to beat this city.”

The museum is open noon to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

For more information about exhibits and upcoming events at the museum, visit sdheritage.org.


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