The Birth of the Grantville-Allied Gardens Kiwanis Club
Grantville itself was not established until the mid-1880s, when it was named for former President and Union Army General Ulysses S. Grant. In an attempt to lure Civil War veterans to settle in the area, many of the area’s streets were named for key figures in the war.
Grantville remained a tiny neighborhood along the San Diego River until the 1940s, when it was finally annexed into the City of San Diego. Growth of the city, facilitated largely by the military’s presence during World War II, forced eastward expansion into Mission Valley and beyond, leading to the birth of Allied Gardens in 1954.
Built by the team of Louis Kelton and Walter Bollenbacher, the new development was carved from a 1,000-acre parcel of land originally purchased from the Waring estate (hence “Waring Road”). The team had gone into business under the name “Allied Contractors,” and therefore the new neighborhood was named after their company – Allied Gardens.
By 1960, the area including Grantville and Allied Gardens was large enough to warrant schools, churches, a post office, a community center, a freeway, and of course, a Kiwanis Club. Members from the Kiwanis Club of Old San Diego took it upon themselves to recruit new Kiwanis members in the area and build a new Kiwanis Club for the area.
On September 17th, 1960, the Grantville Kiwanis Club (as it was called at the time) received its charter from Kiwanis International with 37 original members, and William F. “Bill” Geisinger serving as the club’s first President. Geisinger (pictured at right) was the manager at the Allied Gardens First National Bank, although sadly, his association with our club was not a long one. He would be out of the club by 1963. In contrast, also on that original club roster was Robert “Bob” Frankhouser, who today stands proud as the club’s only remaining charter member, having participated in all fifty-five years of the club’s existence.
The dedication of the original Grantville post office (then known as “San Diego 20”) would be the club’s first community service project, on January 7th, 1961, complete with a Kiwanis banner, uniformed military personnel, and on stage, the Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet Band to mark the occasion. Don D’Agostino of the Kearny Mesa Kiwanis Club had just completed his term as Division 21 Lieutenant Governor in 1960, and served as emcee for the dedication. Don McClean, the first Treasurer of the Grantville Kiwanis Club, also served as Assistant Superintendent of the post office.
The Grantville Kiwanis Club originally met as a lunch club at the Purple Cow restaurant at 6160 Mission Gorge Road, which later became the House of the Beefeaters (1964). By the time 1965 drew to a close, the Kiwanis Club had moved to what is now the Allied Gardens Recreation Center for breakfast on Thursday mornings. The move prompted the club to officially add “Allied Gardens” to its name. Bob Frankhouser was honored in 1965 with the first Kiwanian of the Year Award for the newly re-named Grantville-Allied Gardens Kiwanis Club.