Lilian Rice statue to be unveiled in the Rancho Santa Fe village

A new statue honoring architect Lilian Rice will be unveiled on Dec. 5.

The Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society plans to install a bronze statue in honor of Lilian Rice in the village green in early December (specific date to be determined), at the heart of the civic center she envisioned back in the 1920s.

The society had hoped to celebrate “Lilian Rice Day” with the community next month but in light of the pandemic, the official dedication and celebration of the life and work of Lilian Rice will be moved to May 15, 2021.

Rice was the visionary master architect of Rancho Santa Fe, who began work on the community nearly 100 years ago. She is known as a pioneer in the expansion of the Spanish colonial revival movement in Southern California. According to the historical society, her design philosophy was the principle that one should exercise restraint in decorating, utilize high-quality craftmanship and strive for a harmony between the home and its site.

Lilian Rice

The only statue located in public space in the Ranch will also honor Rice as one of the first women to earn a degree in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley.

The commemorative bronze statue has been donated by Rancho Santa Fe resident Jenny Freeborn. Freeborn’s long-standing admiration of Rice, along with the centennial celebration of Rancho Santa Fe led her to work with the historical society on the tribute.

Local artist and sculptor Nina de Burgh was commissioned to create the bronze sculpture. The final creation remains a surprise to nearly everyone with the exception of Freeborn, who believes the bronze will bring to life the force of the mastermind of Rancho Santa Fe.

“It’s really exciting to be able to recognize one of the founders and someone who had a huge impact on the village and on the entire community,” said RSF Association Manager Christy Whalen.