The craftsman-style Magee House was originally built by Samuel Church Smith (one of the founders of Carlsbad Land and Water Company) in 1887 and is now home to the Carlsbad Historical Society and its archives. The house is furnished in a turn-of-the-century style reflecting thel life of the early Carlsbad settlers who once owned the house. The historical gardens feature a nationally registered Rose Garden that earned Carlsbed the covet American Rose Society's "An American Rose City" in 2002.
About the Rose Gardens:
Surrounding the 1887 Historic Magee house is a qualitative garden of about 225 rose bushes representing 15 families of the rose. One garden is modern roses and the other garden contains Old Garden roses and shrubs. A new miniature rose garden was planted in 2003. This magical garden is maintained by the members of the California Coastal Rose Society and established by Ivy Bodin of Vista with love and care for many years.
In the Fall-Winter of 1996/97 the California Coastal Rose Society undertook with the City of Carlsbad a renovation of the old rose garden at the Magee House. The flowerbeds and rose gardens had been designed and put in place by the city in the mid 1970s. The society had been meeting monthly in Heritage Hall in Magee Park for a number of years and proposed free ongoing rental use of the facility in exchange for the society renovating, planting and maintaining the old rose garden in future years. Roses were solicited and received from a California grower. About 2 to 3 dozen new roses were added to a few older remnant bushes in the garden.
As the bushes were leafing out in the spring of 1997 Ivy Bodin joined the CCRS and asked to be allowed to supervise the maintenance of the garden. He led the CCRS volunteers through 5 years of garden maintenance adding a significant number of roses to the two-part garden. With a special interest in heritage roses he added many of these varieties and created a separate garden of heritage and shrub roses to represent many varieties of rose classes. He also enhanced the separate modern rose garden, adding classic varieties of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas as well as minis and polyanthus to the collection. He, other CCRS members and the general public made rose bush contributions to the collection over those years.
In conjunction with the Carlsbad Arboretum Foundation, which gardened in the front of Magee House, CCRS worked with the other group to reclaim the abandoned flowerbeds surrounding the old historical house. Roses and other plants were added and as well roses were added to the old Red Barn behind the house in the park.
In 2001 the collection came to represent about 121 varieties of rose bushes in the Modern and Old rose/Shrub rose gardens up from an original 40 or so. Fifteen rose families are represented with 26 Hybrid Teas, 4 Grandifloras, 24 Floribundas, 10 Miniatures, 7 Polyanthus, 13 Shrubs (including David Austin English garden roses), 8 Chinas, 6 Teas, 4 Species, 4 Rugosas, 4 Hybrid Musks, 4 Noisettes and 1 Moss, 1 Bourbon, 1 Portland, 1 Damask and 1 Alba.
At the end of 2002 Ivy retired as garden director at Magee and Brenda Pollock Landers assumed directorship, assisted greatly by Joe Smith an original member of the garden. She implemented a significant addition of a mini rose collection to the garden in an ideal location near the old house.
The Craftsman cottage was built from pre-cut lumber, ordered from a mid-Western catalog of pre-designed homes. It is still standing today . When its owner, Florence Shipley Magee died, she left the house and land (about 5 acres) in 1974 to the City of Carlsbad to be used as a park and historical museum. The Carlsbad Historical Society now uses the house.
The Magee House has been recently repainted and repaired and glows with all the newly maintained color of plants at its sides. This is a worthwhile stop on Historical Highway 101 for anyone interested in history and plants, to experience one of Carlsbad's oldest structures located one block from the Pacific Ocean in a beautiful park setting.