Awards ceremony includes two Uptown sites; North Park chapel joins Most Endangered list
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) hosted their annual People In Preservation Awards Thursday, May 23, where the nonprofit honored individuals, families and groups who have preserved historic buildings and sites throughout the region, including several in Uptown.
“We are pleased to honor this diverse group of eight winners who persevered in their preservation projects despite unfavorable economic conditions, unexpected discoveries and the necessity for highly skilled craftspeople,” said SOHO Executive Director Bruce Coons in a press release.
Among those honored May 23 were Dalia and Gordon Hunt, a Mission Hills couple who restored their 1913 home, and Daniel Ramirez, who helped rescue the University Heights “Log Cabin House” from demolition.
When first purchased, the Hunt’s three-story Mission Hills home was “masquerading” as an updated arts and crafts-style building, with “painfully bad features,” SOHO said. The couple hired contractor Jim Stafford for the restoration project, who then discovered the building’s English-influenced elements. Using historic photographs, Stafford was able to restore or replicate the home’s original features.
“Another startling transformation of a mistreated house and City of San Diego landmark … brings a People In Preservation Award to its owner, Daniel Ramirez,” SOHO said. “He brought the abandoned, ravaged Log Cabin House, as it is known in University Heights, back from the very brink.”
Built in 1908 and officially called the James A. Creelman House, Ramirez began working with the University Heights Historical Society in 2004 on the restoration.
“It is now a great source of pride for the whole community,” SOHO said.
The night’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, went to the Chicano Park Steering Committee for their dedication to the park and murals in Barrio Logan that celebrate the Chicano and Latino civil rights movement. After a 2012 mural restoration project was completed, the committee successfully nominated the park to be designated a National Historic District.
Other honorees were the Wilson family, who restored a cottage in Ocean Beach originally built in 1922; the San Diego Housing Commission for their work in restoring Downtown’s historic Hotel Sandford; Jacquelyn Littlefield and American Regional Theatre at the Spreckels for three major restoration projects of the Spreckels Theatre; SOCO, LLC for restoring their theater blade sign at the former Loma Theatre in Point Loma; and historian Diane Welch for her book “Lilian J. Rice: Architect of Rancho Santa Fe, California.”
The People In Preservation Awards ceremony also serves as the official announcement of SOHO’s 2013 Most Endangered List of Historic Resources, which includes a “call for more responsible historic preservation action” throughout San Diego County, representatives said.
“Historic buildings, landscapes and sites contribute to a distinct sense of place and provide a priceless record of our shared heritage,” SOHO said in a separate press release. “The Most Endangered List, now in its 26th year, has proven to be a valuable tool in encouraging urgently needed preservation action.”
The 2013 list includes five new areas and eight remaining sites from previous years, making 13 total in need of attention.
“Twelve of the 13 items on the Most Endangered List are buildings and sites that embody the diversity and richness of San Diego County history,” SOHO said. “The 13th item – the municipal trend toward overturning historic designations for the owner’s convenience – could easily become a preservation nightmare, both legally and culturally.”
New sites listed this year include Collier Park Spring House in La Mesa, Calif., the Spreckels Warehouse located Downtown, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and St. Luke’s Chapel in North Park. Built in 1897, the chapel was moved from Hillcrest to 30th and Gunn streets in 1924 and now stands boarded up and vacant.
“St. Luke’s Chapel, the oldest building in North Park, is also threatened,” SOHO said. “The Diocese, and not the local church, is responsible for the site and may be considering razing the chapel and a few other old buildings on their property. … SOHO urges the Episcopal Diocese to take the boards off this chapel and restore it.”
For the complete list and more information visit sohosandiego.org or call 619-297-9327.