An Appreciation for Those Who Created San Diego History

| June 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

This past month, I was doing some research recently on businesses that have been operating in the City of San Diego upward of 100 years. That’s when I learned about the longstanding history of Walter Andersen Nursery, which opened in 1928 by Walter Andersen Sr. on Juan Street in Old Town San Diego, near the intersection of Taylor Street.

What I also learned is that Walter Anderson was responsible for starting the Old Town Chamber of Commerce, which I serve on today.  It made me feel somehow connected to Walter Anderson, as if I was supposed to learn this about him and his contributions to San Diego.

In the early years of his company, Walter Andersen Nursery provided landscaping and garden services, from maintenance to landscape design and installation as well as selling plants and supplies. Over the years the landscape and plant sales grew to be the majority of the business and the maintenance side was phased out. Throughout the depression the business grew. Walter Andersen’s reputation for supplying the finest plant material and providing quality landscaping grew as well.

Walter Andersen left his mark on San Diego in many ways. Some of the larger projects he worked on over the years include the downtown San Diego Post Office; the County Administration building; numerous projects for the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park; the Westgate Hotel; National Steel and Shipbuilding; Westgate Park, the original Mission Valley home of the San Diego Padres; and the Christmas tree-shaped Cedrus deodoras planted in the center median along Orange Avenue in Coronado. 

In 1928 Walter Anderson purchased a Model A truck to transport nursery products around the city.

That’s pretty impressive!

Additionally, Walter Andersen Nursery has participated in and supported many flower and garden shows over the years: the Orchid Show, the Coronado Flower Show, and the Del Mar Fair.  It’s stated that Walter Andersen Nursery is the longest running exhibitor at the Del Mar Fair Flower Show, not missing an exhibition since its inception in 1938.

As the plant sales grew to be a larger portion of the business, Walter Sr. and his son Walter Jr. decided to stop landscaping and concentrate on selling plants and gardening supplies. Daily operation of the nursery was turned over to Walter Jr. in the mid 1970s, but Walter Sr. continued to take an active role in the business and was at the store six days a week until shortly before his death in 1983.

In 1995, the decision was made to expand the nursery operation by opening a second store. After careful study and consideration, a piece of property was purchased in Poway for the second store.

Today, the nurseries are still family-owned and operated with Walter Jr. as chairman, and Ken Andersen serving as president and CEO of nursery operations.

In 1969 Walter Anderson moved to its current location at 3642 Enterprise Street, which is right next to SPAWAR (now NAVWAR), the subject of editorial in this issue.  When I realized this, I reached out to a member of his family who works for the Nursery to learn more about what they know about the Navy’s plans for NAVWAR.

As you might expect, Walter Anderson Nursery is a small, family owned business that has worked long and hard to be a respected member of the business community.  What is forthcoming can either allow them to continue to operate at the current location, or, force them to move.  The later of the two is definitely not in the best interests of the family and those who do business with Walter Anderson Nursery. 

We will continue to cover NAVWAR, and provide more information on this business that has contributed significantly to San Diego, including starting and supporting the Old Town Chamber of Commerce.

This past month, Mission Hills residents started a petition to encourage the Navy to tear down and reconstruct NAVWAR on site of the old SPAWAR location. This is identified as Alternative 1 on NAVWAR’s list of options. To learn of the petition and to join the effort, visit  The home page includes information on the petition.  To get involved in this effort, email

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Category: Business, feature, Government, Historical, Local News, Politics, Real Estate

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