This attractive neighborhood in the middle of the city has impressive Spanish architecture, sweeping expanses of meticulously manicured lawns, and tranquil streets shaded by beautiful ancient trees are an excellent description of Kensington. It is a distinctive, peaceful, residential neighborhood while the amenities and attractions of downtown are just minutes from home. The Kensington location was first considered for development in 1909 as a potential site to build luxury homes for retired executives of the Santa Fe Railway company. The neighborhood we think of today is a collection of five original subdivisions: Kensington Park, Kensington Park Annex, Kensington Park Extension, Kensington Talmadge and Kensington Heights.
English street names
Many street names in the community have English (or New England) origins, as does the name Kensington itself. Most Kensington homes were built in the 1920s and 1930s, offering distinctive architecture and unique features. Embellishments such as title roofs, charming courtyards, hardwood floors, and stone chimney lend yesterday charm to updated homes. The area has an impressive collection of Spanish Revival style homes, this being the most popular style in San Diego during the late 1920s when much of Kensington was built out. Architects Cliff May and Richard Requa built important homes in Kensington, and Requa, in particular, had a profound influence on the architecture and character of the Kensington neighborhood.
A neon “Kensington” sign hangs over Adams Avenue, which acts as the neighborhood’s cultural and business center. The sign had been hanging across Adams Avenue since 1954 and was clearly showing its age. In 2003, due to advancing deterioration, the residents of the Kensington neighborhood it was decided that it was time to either repair or replace their sign in time for Kensington Centennial in 2010. However, the sign was one of only two original neon neighborhood signs remaining in San Diego, having been bought and installed by the community in 1953. A Kensington resident performed the necessary research and submitted it to the City of San Diego’s Historical Resources Board (HRB) for consideration as an historical resource. The HRB voted unanimously on April 24, 2008 to designate the “Kensington Neon Sign” as HRB historic site #865. As a designated historic resource, the sign had to be professionally evaluated for repair or replacement in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior Standards. The City’s Historic Resources staff then directed to replicate the original sign and install it back above Adams Avenue. The sign was re-installed in November, 2010.