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Alfred D Robinson
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Birth: Oct. 9, 1866, England
Death: Feb. 26, 1942
San Diego
San Diego County
California, USA

Alfred D. Robinson was born in England on October 9, 1866. Having met and married a young heiress, Robinson and his wife heard a presentation in San Francisco by Katherine Tingley, who was soliciting money and participants for her utopian theosophical compound, Lomaland, in coastal San Diego. They immediately moved to Point Loma and, in 1903, purchased 10 acres adjacent to Lomaland and enrolled their first child in Tingley's school at Lomaland.

In 1912, The Robinson's built at 6,000 sq. ft. mansion in the Italian Renaissance style on the 10-acre property. They named their property "Rosecroft", and in the gardens at Rosecroft, Robinson began his horticultural career - at first mainly as a hobby.

The beautiful gardens (where many of the early San Diego Floral Association events were held) first contained roses and dahlias, but Robinson soon began to experiment with begonias. He hand-hybridized and grew beautiful, properly documented plants. It was in the gardens at Rosecroft that Robinson sought diligently for the best microclimate for his precious begonias. He was distrustful of Colorado River water, so he built his own water tower to collect rainwater, and he imported leaf mold from the mountains near Julian.

Here, too, he developed the use of the lath house, widely described and promoted by Kate Sessions. It was constructed with narrow strips of redwood oriented to run north and south. With this construction, he noted, "the sun shines through the laths making a gridiron as it moves on its path [from East to West]. The stripes of shadow and sunlight change places every five minutes, providing ... filtered sunlight and temperate weather with a fair degree of moisture." Begonias dislike heat almost more than cold, but Point Loma's coastal climate combined with a lath structure was just perfect.

Rosecroft itself became synonymous with begonias, termed by many as the "finest in the world". Even after Robinson's death in 1942, the gardens at Rosecroft (under a different owner) remained a tourist attraction open to the public until sale of the property in the 1970's.

The San Diego Chamber of Commerce asked Robinson to consult on the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. In Sunset magazine in 1912, Robinson published an article entitled "the Palace of Lath", proposing construction of a giant lath house for the Exposition.

All over California, people were enthralled with the idea of a lath house for San Diego. Exposition officials became convinced and inspired by "Robinson's Dream". Architects Carleton Winslow and Bertram Goodhue prepared plans for the building even before funds were secured.

Natural redwood lath was the primary material. An open barrel design with a domed center element over structural steel was chosen. This was in order to be compatible with the Spanish stucco architecture of the rest of the Prado. At the time of its construction, it was heralded as the largest open-lath botanical building of its type in the world. Robinson's lath house became the center of the large botany complex that also included a glasshouse, Japanese gardens, and reflecting pools.

The San Diego Floral Association was actively involved with Exposition's horticultural activities; these were so popular that the Exposition became known as "the Garden Fair".

In April of 2005, the San Diego Floral Association dedicated a bronze plaque in honor of its first president and founder, A.D. Robinson. The plaque hangs in the entry to the Botanical Building in Balboa Park.
Born in England on 1866 to Richard Robinson and Margaret Perry. Alfred D married Marion James Duncan and had 2 children. Alfred D married Annie Louisa Colby and had 5 children. He passed away on 26 Feb 1942 in San Diego, California, USA.

Family links: 
  Richard Robinson
  Margaret Perry Robinson
  Marion James Duncan Robinson (____ - 1919)
  Annie Louisa Colby Robinson (1891 - 1981)
Created by: Pat McArron
Record added: Mar 01, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 106016789
Alfred D Robinson
Added by: Pat McArron
Alfred D Robinson
Added by: Pat McArron
Alfred D Robinson
Added by: Pat McArron
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