Mission Hills Heritage, Councilmember Faulconer, Chism Brothers Painting unveil repaired pillars in Inspiration Heights
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
Community groups, local businesses and city leaders unveiled six new bronze plaques in Mission Hills, replacing century-old neighborhood markers that were stolen in July and August 2011.
With a focus on neighborhood pride, Councilmember Kevin Faulconer joined Mission Hills Heritage, Chism Brothers Painting and representatives from the Mission Hills Town Council and Mission Hills Business Improvement District for the official unveiling March 20.
“It’s about community character,” Faulconer said. “It’s about what’s special in San Diego, and particularly here in Mission Hills. Our residents and our neighbors here love this community.”
Held at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Alameda Drive, the ceremony focused on the Inspiration Heights pillars and plaques that were of the last damaged in the 2011 crime spree. Over 20 bronze plaques marking historical buildings and sub-neighborhoods throughout Mission Hills were stolen.
By September 2011, the San Diego Police Department had one perpetrator in custody, with two additional leads. However the plaques, which date to 1909, were not recovered as they had already been altered with the intention of being sold for scrap metal.
Mission Hills Heritage board Chair Barry Hager said once the organization realized they would not recover the original plaques, they looked to replace them. Using photographs of remaining plaques, the nonprofit obtained bids and sought City Council help in funding.
“Mission Hills is really a community that cares about its heritage, so when these six plaques were unceremoniously ripped from the pillars back in 2011, we really had to do something about it,” he said.
The group reached out to Faulconer, who represented the area at the time. Redistricting has since moved Faulconer’s council district outside of Mission Hills, yet the councilmember remained involved in the project to completion.
“Even after the redistricting took this area out of District Two, Kevin [Faulconer’s] office was still there working with us and with the City to try to get this project done,” Hager said.
Faulconer expressed his desire to see the plaques replaced, saying Mission Hills Heritage, the City Council and his office rallied to raise the necessary funds for the six new plaques in Inspiration Heights. His office gave $1,200 to the City’s Historic Preservation Fund for this specific purpose.
“I think it celebrates what’s best of San Diego and what’s best about neighborhood character,” Faulconer said. “All of us banded together because we felt very proud of our community. … We redid this, and we did it right.”
The San Diego City Streets Division installed the new plaques, and the pillars were repaired and painted by Chism Brothers Painting. Mike Chism, who grew up in Mission Hills, said it was a pleasure for him and his company to do the work.
Hager thanked Chism and his work on behalf of Mission Hills Heritage.
“As soon as these plaques were put in, his company came out,” Hager said. “He had a three-man crew working for two days exclusively on these pillars.” Restoration work included repairing the stucco, followed by repainting.
“I’d say at this point in time, the heritage has been restored and these pillars are back to their original glory,” Hager said. The new plaques do not have a lacquer coating, and Hagar said they will oxidize to the former greenish color of the originals within two years.
In closing, Faulconer said while the restoration was a relatively small project, it meant a “great deal” to Mission Hills. “It’s all about community pride and community character,” he said.