Museum collection spotlights a San Marcos pioneer

SAN MARCOS — She was a one of a kind woman who shaped the future of San Marcos, but how many current residents know the name Jennylind Wood? The San Marcos Historical Society hopes to put her name back in the limelight with a set of three exhibits at the museum on San Marcos Boulevard.
San Marcos was a lot smaller back in 1942 when Mrs. Wood and her husband, Navy Chaplain Capt. Tipton Wood, moved to town and bought a house built in 1884 near what is now the intersection of Rock Springs Road and Woodland Parkway.
The two quickly became active in the community. Tipton Wood was president of the board of governors at Palomar College, and Jennylind Wood belonged to the Palomar College Patrons, raising money for the campus library. After her husband’s death, Jennylind Wood donated his medical library, comprised of thousands of books, to Palomar.
Her biggest contribution to San Marcos is the land which, to this day, still bears her name. In 1974, Jennylind Wood sold eight acres of her property to the school district. She sold the remaining 15 acres of her property to the city for $122,000 on the condition that she keep the land until she died.
“Youth is a glamour time,” Jennylind Wood said in 1974. “But it’s the giving of yourself that’s worthwhile.”
Upon her death in 1979 at the age of 93, her land became Woodland Park, and the school built nearby was named Woodland Park Middle School. The Wood house itself was restored to its Victorian condition and opened up for tours.
These days, there aren’t too many left who personally knew Jennylind Wood, but 92-year-old Enid McAleese fondly remembers visiting her in the 1970s.
“She was a very strong woman,” McAleese said. “She was fun to be with, I always really enjoyed visiting with her because she always had so many stories to tell.”
Her fondness for fancy hats and clothes was legendary. “The funny thing about her is she loved fur coats,” Historical Society President Maryanne Cioe said. “She even wore them in the summer. She wore one to a July 4th event.”
When Jennylind Wood died, her friend and caretaker Carmen Schnell inherited her personal belongings and she, in turn, donated many of them to the Historical Society. There aren’t any fur coats, but there are shoes, hats and purses, many more than a century old. Most haven’t seen the light of day since they were first exhibited almost 30 years ago.
The Jennylind Wood exhibit can be seen at the San Marcos Historical Museum at 270 W. San Marcos Blvd. Museum hours are noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

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