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Out of state guests may ask you questions, like how do they make the most of their stay in San Diego? To field those questions, here is a best-of itinerary of what to see, do, eat, and drink near Flora.
For the three years it’s been calling this corner of one of San Diego’s oldest neighborhoods home, Flora has seen a countless number of weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and company gatherings within its bright and pristine walls. But before Flora moved in and transformed the space into the foliage-draped wonderland it is, things looked a lot different.
This year, the charcoal-gray building that sits quietly on the one-way 7th Avenue turns 100 years old. So, to celebrate the occasion, we’re diving deep into its history. Here, we’re sharing a few things you might not know about Flora’s home – and why it’s such a special place to host your next event.
Flora’s current space first began life in 1922, when supermarket chain Piggly Wiggly opened its first store in California. At the time, the chain was gaining popularity, expanding at rapid speeds across the country. That’s largely thanks to its self-service shopping concept, which was considered revolutionary. “Among many modern conveniences, the store was the first to provide checkout stands, price mark every item in the store, and use refrigerated cases for produce,” according to Uptown News San Diego. Piggly Wiggly might not be operating in that same space anymore, but it definitely had a lasting impact on the area’s history.
Piggly Wiggly was just one-half of what Flora is now; 1040 7th Ave. was originally two separate buildings, with other businesses operating out of the adjacent property. Many years down the road, the two buildings were combined together. A white truss that runs along the length of the building was installed to make way for a parking structure that briefly housed rental cars. It’s that truss that makes having no interior columns inside Flora a possibility – and the reason why its space is so airy and breezy.
Aside from Piggly Wiggly, a flooring company operated in the next-door building. That flooring company then became a bakery dubbed Ferguson’s Bakery, which churned out delicious treats and baked goods from 1938 to 1977. Throughout the years, these two buildings played host to a fabric shop (1950 to 1961), an appliance center (1963 to 1964) and a shoe store (Shelby Shoes, from 1971 to 1977). It wasn’t until 1979 when Benjamin Ed & Sons Inc Wholesale Jewelers moved in that the two buildings became one. In its most recent years prior to Flora, it also served as a beautiful home for an art gallery.
When the art gallery left and migrated to a different space, Flora’s journey in San Diego began. To turn Flora into a dream-worthy, light-filled venue, several changes had to be made. Ceilings were raised to reveal the building’s original wooden beams, and skylights were added to allow even more light into the area. A HVAC system was installed as well as a full kitchen – a convenience factor for anyone serving food at the event space. State-of-the-art audio and visual setups also added a host of possibilities. Weave in gorgeous greenery, and voila! Flora was born.
At Flora, we love – and are proud of – our building’s history. That’s why we dedicated a whole bookcase to memorabilia and trinkets that remind us every day of the rich and significant history of this remarkable venue. Thread spools pay homage to the House of Fabrics, and an iron pig represents Piggly Wiggly. A wooden shoe tree is a nod to Shelby Shoes, and an antique travel iron harkens back to the venue’s past as an appliance store. There are also so many other nods: a 1920s mirror as a tribute to its ‘20s roots, cookbooks and cake stands, art books and an assortment of antique wedding items.