Annual event showcases diverse architecture of South Park
By Katherine Poythress | SDUN Reporter
South Park’s 14th annual Old House Fair is set for June 16, with additional attractions added this year for new and returning visitors alike. Since its inception, the free, daylong fair is an iconic destination for old house lovers in San Diego, attracting between 2,000 and 2,600 visitors annually.
“This Fair is for people who live in, enjoy visiting or otherwise just like, old homes,” said Marsha Smelkinson, assistant director of the Old House Fair.
Attendees will have multiple opportunities to visit historic homes and buildings in South Park, Golden Hill and Burlingame, including a free guided walking tour. Participants can walk or bike around the neighborhood, viewing the exterior of over 25 historic homes.
A narrated trolley tour will also be available every hour starting at 11:30 a.m., and will take riders through South Park and the neighboring areas for $5.
“We’re not the only city in the country that has an old house fair, but ours is a really fun event because it’s free … and it’s a beautiful opportunity to see things and enjoy the day in town,” Smelkinson said.
Other fair activities include live music and vendor booths, along with the newly added foodie expo, where people can learn about kitchen, cooking, dining and other food trends.
The fair will also feature contractors and craftsmen who specialize in restoring older homes, on hand to offer insight to home owners with tips on how to preserve and spruce up their older residences, as well as opportunities to speak with experts in historic neighborhoods and old houses.
For many, a highlight of the fair is the $20 Historic Home Tour, featuring docent-led visits to six homes. Ticket-holders will get the opportunity to walk through the homes and learn their architectural features and historical backgrounds. The homes chosen are different each year, and this year visitors get to see two landscaped gardens as well: one adjacent to the canyon on the east side of Balboa Park, and one overlooking the Balboa Park golf course.
Attendees will also see older buildings that are not classified as homes, including guided tours of what was once Fire Station #9, located at 2211 30th St. The oldest standing fire station building in San Diego, the building is celebrating its 100th birthday and has been refurbished as a fitness center and offices.
The South Park Business Group (SPBG) sponsors the Fair, which serves as a fundraiser for neighborhood beautification projects. Other major sponsors include Station Tavern and South Bark Dogwash.
Sam Chammas, owner of the Station Tavern and the Whistle Stop Bar located in South Park, is a member of the SPBG and said the group sponsors the event because they appreciate architecture. “It’s the variety of beautiful, old homes in South Park that make it so special,” he said, calling the event a “great showcase” for the neighborhood.
“If you like how the Walkabouts showcase South Park’s shops and restaurants, you’ll like how Old House Fair showcases the great homes and features.”
The Station won a Grand Orchid award for Architecture in 2009 from the San Diego Architecture Foundation, which Chammas said connected his restaurant to the “diverse architectural fabric” of South Park. “It’s our way of giving back, too,” he said.
The old House Fair runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the corner of 30th and Beech streets in South Park. Tickets for the trolley tour and Historic Home Tour can be purchased on the day of event. For more information or advance tickets for the home and garden tour, as well as a map of the self-guided walking tour, visit TheOldHouseFair.weebly.com.