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Who is George Marston?

Our school is named for George White Marston, one of the most important San Diegans of all time. He was a progressive politician, the owner of a popular department store and a philanthropist who gave his beloved citymajor parks and other great institutions. His dream was to makeSan Diegoone of America's greatest cities.

Marstonwas a leader in thecreation ofBalboa Park, San Diego'sPublic Library System, Torrey Pines State Reserve, Anza Borrego Desert State Park andthe Serra Museum along withPresidio Park.

He was born in1850 in Wisconsin where he loved to ice skate on the many frozen rivers and lakes of his Midwestern home. His family moved West because of his father's poor health, andGeorge the future millionairestarted in business here as a lowly hotel clerk.

Heentered thethe mercantile business as a bookkeeper. and a clerk. The smart and ambitious Marston found a partner and took over the store.He was a man who read books and had big dreams.

He marrieda teacher named Anna Lee Gunn,whose uncle was editor of the city's newspaper, the San Diego Union. Together the couple had five children. Their beautifulhouse, the Marston House, built in the architecturally famous California Craftsman style is near Balboa Parkand open to the public as amuseum.

The Marston Company became the only major department store in San Diego, and he was known as a good boss and a businessman who invested in keeping his store nice andtreating customers right. The store sat at 5th Avenue and C Street. Some 15 years after his death, his family sold it to the Broadway, a major department store chain that has since closed. As he gained wealth he traveled widely and when he saw major urban parks like New York's Central Park he invested his own money and connections to create such a haven for San Diego.

In addition to his many charity ventures he was active politically. He was elected tothe San Diego CityCouncil serving from 1887-1889.Marston ran for mayor unsuccessfully twice.One of his races became a classic political race between two different governing philosophies, which his opponent called the race between "Smokestacks versus Geraniums," His opponent nicknamed himGeranium George, and convinced voters that thevery successful businessman Marston was anti-business. Marston lost to the candidate whoproudly campaigned forSmokestacks.

Marston was known for his love of ice skating, and continued to skate even in his 90s.

George Marston

George Marston: 1850-1946, a successful merchant who spent much of his personal fortune to make San Diego great, including creating Balboa Park and the public library system.

"I believe in a Greater San Diego.everything that makes for a bigger city. Let us build a great city on a good foundation. Let us have our industries as large as possible. Let us build a complete city."

- George Marston

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