By Amie Hayes
[Editor’s note: Amie Hayes was the emcee for Save Our Heritage Organization’s 35th annual People in Preservation awards ceremony May 18 in the garden at Marston House in Balboa Park. In this edition of San Diego Uptown News, we salute the winners who are connected to the Uptown communities as well as Sande Lollis, who photographed the winners at the location of their choice and put together the beautiful poster boards that illustrate this article. The selected words that follow were spoken by Amie Hayes, who is the organization’s historic resources specialist, at the ceremony.]
Amie Hayes: Each year we look forward to presenting awards to people who have achieved great success for their preservation goals. The results of their passion, sweat and determination enrich our communities and our individual lives, and will continue to do so into the future.
Town Crier Award
With so much information flying at us every second of the day, focusing on what’s important can be a challenge. Experienced journalists know how to present facts and tell relevant stories. Raising readers’ awareness about our history and the development of San Diego’s built environment is a bit more complicated. Three newspapers — Uptown News, Downtown News and Gay San Diego — consistently devote space throughout their print and digital pages to preservation issues, projects, and threats. Entire historic neighborhoods are benefitting from this informative coverage, and many readers are spurred to attend public meetings, write letters to decision makers, and more.
We’re fortunate to have two editors who care about our region’s heritage and historic preservation at the helm of these popular and influential community newspapers. They have gathered historians, community leaders, museum professionals, artisans, preservationists, and archivists of the LGBTQ community to write informative articles and persuasive columns on an ongoing basis. Regular readers stand to learn a lot and tend to be moved to act to protect their historic neighborhoods.
For their ongoing commitment to communicating the importance of our heritage and historic resources, editors Morgan Hurley and Ken Williams of the San Diego Community News Network have earned the Town Crier Award.
A few years after an Eastlake style Victorian-era house was constructed Downtown during a brief, late 1880s building boom, the San Diego Cable Railway Company moved it along its line to University Heights. This spec house No. 1 was meant to enhance and increase interest in the more than 100 vacant lots along Adams Avenue that the company was offering for sale. The house was moved again around 1913 to its current location on Adams Avenue.
The owner has rehabilitated this rare survivor of early residential San Diego with care. Standout architectural details include reproduced siding, a period front door with transom window, and reinstalled the home’s tall, narrow windows. This rehabilitation is especially important in telling the story of how the city developed stylistically. The owner has since been rewarded by having his home designated historic by the city’s Historical Resources Board.
For excellence in a residential rehabilitation, we applaud Charles Tiano, winner of this year’s Stewardship Award.
Cultural Landscape Award
When the Panama-California Exposition opened in Balboa Park in 1915, the main entrance was reached across Cabrillo Bridge from Laurel Street. A gate stretched between a pair of gate houses to control admission. After the expo closed, the gate was removed, but the gate houses continued to stand guard. Closed for decades, the twin sentinels fell into serious disrepair.
Over 18 months, the gate houses were restored to their original appearance. They are now ready to greet visitors throughout the 21st century with new roofs, new stucco and paint, restored wood doors, and replicated missing ornament and flagpoles. Once forlorn and visually lost in the busy park, the gate houses have regained their proper historic stature.
For restoring these Balboa Park landmarks, SOHO honors the Friends of Balboa Park and board member Jim Hughes, with the Cultural Landscape Award.
Gift to the Street Award
A Prairie-style spec house in Mission Hills constructed by master builder Nathan Rigdon had been altered many times over the decades since it was first inhabited in 1916. Its integrity was so degraded that the home didn’t qualify as a contributor to the Fort Stockton Line Historic District. The current owners, who bought the house in 2012, realized its potential and set about restoring the main façade.
Two historic photographs of the façade from the 1930s and forensic investigations guided the restoration. The porte-cochère that had been removed in 1960 was restored, and a porch that had been enclosed that same year was reopened. The front door had been moved; it was restored and returned to its original location. A second-story balcony that had been removed was reconstructed and a 1960 window was replaced with the original balcony door. Failing stucco was covered with historically appropriate new stucco and the front concrete walkway was re-poured and scored with a rectangular pattern seen in the historic photographs.
At this past April Historical Resources Board meeting, the house was designated and now reclassified as a contributor to the Fort Stockton Line Historic District.
Congratulations to Kim and Richard Schwab on your thoughtful and triumphant restoration! Please accept the Gift to the Street Award.
Commercial Rehabilitation Award
In 1924, architect and builder Pingree Ives Osburn constructed a Spanish Revival-style bungalow half court on a corner lot in Hillcrest. Some 30 years ago, its classic white stucco walls gave way to orange paint. Aluminum-framed sliding windows “modernized,” if you will, the place, while screen doors concealed the beauty of the original 12-light, arched front doors. Worse yet, the bungalows were imprisoned in chain-link fence when the current owner bought them three years ago.
On top of all that bad news, the owner had to deal with about 25 years of deferred maintenance. None of this deterred her enthusiasm and vision to transform the bungalows into vacation rental units with historic character married to modern conveniences. She preserved as much of the 1924 fabric as possible, bringing the wood windows back, refinishing and repairing wood floors, trim, and moldings. Working with the original floor plans, her dedicated team carved out a galley kitchen, livable bedroom and dining areas, and a spa-style bathroom in each unit. Restored porches and courtyards became outdoor rooms adorned with Spanish-style tiles. The formerly neglected bungalows now form a historic oasis in a lively part of town. And last, but not least, they are a shining example of how to attract heritage tourism.
For this handsome project rich in authentic details, Donna McLoughlin is the winner of the Commercial Rehabilitation Award.
- Historic Arts Restoration & Education Award — Bandy Blacksmith Guild of Escondido, an all-volunteer group that works with nonprofits to restore priceless historic artifacts, fittings and hardware. Their projects include the San Diego Maritime Museum’s San Salvador, the Escondido History Center’s mud wagon and the centennial cannon, a rare survivor from 1870s San Diego now owned by SOHO.
- Historic Arts Restoration & Conservation Award — Bera Stained Glass Studios of San Marcos, for meticulous and sensitive restoration of historic windows at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in National City, which was built in 1887 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Outstanding Public Service Award — Goes to the city of San Diego’s dedicated City Clerk Elizabeth Maland for San Diego’s Archives Access and Preservation Project, which has made rare publications, documents and maps available to the public online and in person at the city’s archives center.
- Adaptive Reuse Award — San Diego Housing Commission and its president and CEO, Richard Gentry, for preserving and converting a dilapidated Hotel Churchill, a seven-story historic landmark, into much-needed affordable housing.
- Partners in Preservation Award — To the city of San Diego, Civic San Diego and Westfield LLC for restoring Horton Plaza Park — designed by influential architect Irving Gill — to its original 1910 appearance, with paving, furnishings and pedestrian access for optimal use. The historic Broadway Fountain was also restored to its old glory.
Amie Hayes: Congratulations to all our People In Preservation winners! You’ve enriched our historic buildings, parks and streetscapes; our rare artifacts; our housing options; and our knowledge, through archives and journalism. By restoring and preserving our treasured historic resources, you’ve made a lasting contribution to San Diego’s authentic character and quality of life.
—For more information about SOHO, visit sohosandiego.org.