Coronado’s Street Tree Committee has been helping the upkeep and preservation of Coronado’s foliage for nearly two decades. In 2008, the committee began a list to recognize specific trees around the island that held qualities for designation as Heritage Trees. Today there are 15 trees on Coronado’s Heritage Tree list, and the most recent plinth commemorating such a designation was recently installed at 1517 Ynez Place.
“The initial designation belongs to a Torrey Pine in Palm Park at Palm Avenue and Third Street,” Tom DeCaro, Chair of the Coronado Street Tree Committee, mentioned of the origins of the Heritage Tree list. “The Program was created to recognize trees having a combination of attributes making them worthy of acclaim and protection. It highlights these trees as distinct and unique living resources, and increases public awareness of the environmental benefit of the urban forest.”
Kay and Ted Krohne, both retired Navy Commanders and longtime residents of the historic property dubbed the “Pratt-Lorini House” where Heritage Tree No. 014 has now been designated, were thrilled to learn about the program and have their Canary Island Pine be a part of it. I had a chance to speak with them after the plinth was installed in their front yard.
“I have a friend who was on the Tree Committee and had admired the tree and said it could be a really good candidate,” Kay Krohne mentioned on how they first became aware of the program. “Then I finally got serious about it and got the information from the current president, started to work on the application and went before the Committee and got nominated.”
The Canary Island Pine towers over the Krohne’s home and can be seen coming onto the island all the way from the bridge. The property still includes original parts of the property which was built in 1898 and designed by Irving Gill, the architect who also had a hand in such properties known as the Crown Manor on Ocean Boulevard and home formerly known as the Hansen Mansion on A Avenue. It was built as the residence of Dr. Lorini who practiced medicine at the Hotel del Coronado for many years and wanted a home overlooking the bay.
“The house is kind of unique in the fact that Lorini had Gill build this section,” Ted Krohne explained to me of the sitting area we were chatting in. “And then in the 30s, a Naval officer by the name of Grant put that wing on,” he pointed to another section of the home. “So it’s a three-owner house over its 123 years.”
“The house itself has history that we have come across since we lived here,” Kay Krohne added. “A few years ago someone got in touch with Ted and said, ‘Did you know that Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt came to dinner in your house?’” The Krohne’s were sent a copy of an old White House schedule and they were able to look it up online and find that, “Sure enough, they were here just before he announced for fourth term,” she explained.
“He came out here because they were planning the invasion of Europe and the Amphibious Base down here,” Ted Krohne mentioned. “He wanted to talk to the officer in charge for how it’s going to happen, if we were going to have enough boats, and all that stuff.” The Roosevelt’s son, James, was a Marine Colonel at Pendleton at that time who had come down to host the dinner at the property, of which the admiral of the Amphibious Base was residing. “There’s a picture of him and his mother, Eleanor, visiting patients at Balboa during that visit,” Kay Krohne told me.
While there is no way to be certain exactly who or when the Canary Island Pine on their property was added, the Krohnes believe it was sometime during Dr. Lorini’s stay on Ynez that it was brought in and planted on the property. “We know it’s over a hundred plus years old,” Kay Krohne said of the tree. The pine in their yard was brought in with a group of Canary Island Pines planted around Coronado at that time where the warmer Southern California climate allowed them to thrive as would in their native home. These days blue herons can be seen nesting in the Krohne’s tree on occasion.
“We’ve gotten some guidance from the city now on how we can do more to make sure it’s maintained,” Kay Krohne mentioned as she showed me the tree. “I worked a lot with Art Valdivia. He’s great, he’s just a good guy and was very responsive,” she continued. “He’s the one, who, with his crew, worked on the installment and this was his first one. Everyone involved from the city was just very, very professional and we appreciated that.”
The Krohnes are hoping that more people around the city will become acquainted with the Heritage Tree program and the work that the Street Tree Committee does. “I think we need to protect as many trees as we can in Coronado that are that old. It’s better for the environment, as well,” Kay Krohne added. “I’m really thrilled that [this tree], it’s only the 14th [to be designated] and it’s the first Canary Island Pine. …This one, because we know was probably planted for this house, and the house has historic value, that it’s kind of a combination of history. We’re a part of history,” she laughed. “We’re lucky to be a part of history. As you get older, I think you appreciate this more.”
The Canary Island Pine Heritage Tree plinth can be viewed in the Krohne’s front yard at 1517 Ynez Place where the tree itself can be seen rising above the house behind it.
“The Heritage Tree Program commemorates these special trees as a means to increase public awareness of the many ways that a prolific urban forest can enhance the community’s environment and quality of life,” Tom DeCaro of the Street Tree Commission stated.
For anyone interested in nominating a tree in Coronado for a Heritage Tree designation, DeCaro says the best way to get started is to contact Coronado’s Department of Public Services and Engineering where staff can walk anyone through the nomination process. The monthly Street Tree Committee meetings are also open to the public and anyone is welcome to attend to learn more about the committee and how to become more involved in the upkeep of Coronado’s urban forest. DeCaro also suggests the Annual Coronado Arbor Day Celebration in February as a great event for all ages to attend as an introduction to these programs.
To view the current Heritage Tree list and access nomination forms, please visit https://www.coronado.ca.us/government/departments_divisions/public_services_and_engineering/street_trees/heritage_tree_list. A Magnolia Grandiflora was recently designated as the 15th tree to be added to the list and residents can be on the lookout for the next plinth to be installed on the island at 928 A Avenue.