SAN DIEGO, CA - May 14, 2018 - Save Our Heritage Organisation, San Diego's countywide preservation group, will celebrate its 36th annual People In Preservation Awards ceremony on May 31 from 4 to 6pm at the historic Marston House formal gardens in Balboa Park.
Preservationist of the year, the top award, is being shared by four people instrumental in the years-long, arduous effort to create San Diego's South Park Historic District. They are Susan Bugbee and David Swarens, South Park historians and leaders, and Kelley Stanco and Bernie Turgeon of the City of San Diego. The neighborhood is an inviting, relatively intact example of the city's early streetcar suburbs, with a full spectrum of architectural styles and socio-economic levels found from 1906 through 1949.
This award is especially significant because the South Park Historic District, which was approved last fall (by the City of San Diego's Historical Resources Board) and includes nearly 300 contributing resources, survived a recent appeal by a few residents. But with overwhelming community support the district was unanimously upheld by the San Diego City Council in February. SOHO's honorees personify the fact that the work of preservationists is never done.
The PIP awards recognize vibrant, dedicated people and their outstanding preservation efforts that contribute to our cultural heritage and benefit us all. This year's award-winning projects are also associated with notable architects and civic leaders in San Diego history, making them doubly fascinating.
The handsomely restored Alice Lee/Irving J. Gill/Hazel Wood Waterman House is a prime example, as it acknowledges Waterman, San Diego's first woman architect, as a lead designer while employed by architect Gill. Lee, the builder of this 1905 house in Uptown was a bold social reformer. Christine and Jim Cunning spent nearly a decade carefully removing misguided alterations and restoring historic elements inside and out, including a pergola and landscaping. The home's state of "arrested development" and decay when the Cunnings started this project provided invaluable, pre-1950 evidence that will inform future Gill/Waterman restorations. The Cunnings' dedication preserved a masterpiece among a collection of architectural gems by Gill and Waterman, and brought a San Diego treasure back to life.
Karen and Bill Strack's attractive Arts & Crafts home in North Park is another recipient of a Residential Restoration award. Designed and built by the acclaimed David O. Dryden in 1917 and the former home of North Park community leader George Klicka, this two-story home had become obscured by non-native landscaping and its architectural luster dimmed by non-historic additions. The Stracks replaced about 20 aluminum windows with wood framed ones like the originals and removed a second-floor balcony roof that a previous owner added with negative results. They returned the shingle-and-brick house to an earthy Arts & Crafts color scheme and redesigned the front walk and yard to correspond with the house's symmetrical facade. Klicka, owner of Klicka Lumber Company and Klicka Mortgage Company, lived here from 1921-1925. The Stracks' dramatic transformation of this significant home was rewarded with City of San Diego historic designation in January.
Michel Khozam, John Eisenhart and Eva Thorn rescued and restored an abandoned, severely deteriorated church from 1906 that once served a Mexican Presbyterian congregation in downtown San Diego's East Village. The formerly meaningful building was plagued by graffiti and neglect, and threatened with demolition as gleaming new buildings rose around it. Khozam, a preservation contractor, worked with architects Eisenhart and Thorn on this immaculate restoration. A charming and important landmark representing the city's historic Mexican community now stands ready for a new commercial use.
Emma Salustro and Jesse Driscollown the oldest historic resource among this year's People In Preservation winners. Their Victorian-era Second Empire house built in 1887 is one of only four similar buildings remaining in San Diego. SOHO's Gift to the Street award recognizes Driscoll and Salustro for the home's rehabilitation and for their surmounting what was unusually egregious
city bureaucracy to attain their goal of preserving the home through historic designation.
The St. Joseph's Sisters of Mercy Hospital Annex in Hillcrest appeared on SOHO's Most Endangered List in 2014. Endangered no more, the 1890s, formerly decaying Victorian-era wood structure is now a thriving magnet called Better Buzz Coffee Roasters. Stephanie Garden and Tim Langdon adapted the historic structure for new uses through meticulous restoration and a blend of old and new. They honored the building's unique history by retaining historic elements, such as massive skylights and windows that once lit surgeons' operating tables. Now, this bustling commercial and social hub is undeniable proof that historic preservation strengthens community cultural and economic growth, while reinforcing irreplaceable neighborhood character.
Bob and Melinda Murphy fell into the role of preservationists after buying a two-story Prairie Style home in Mission Hills in 2015. Without prior experience, they were determined to return this 1913 home to its original exterior appearance. "We want to do the right thing, to do right by this house," friends heard them say. While they removed non-historic stucco and additions, the couple insisted that their contractor preserve wood windows, old doors and redwood lath, despite the common arguments to destroy old construction and start anew. This major preservation effort is especially important because the architecture shows the strong influence of Irving J. Gill's early modernist, cubist homes, none of which were built in Mission Hills.
Dan Soderberg is well known in San Diego for his commitment to historic preservation and prized community character. A UCLA graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts, Dan is a gifted photographer and filmmaker. He clearly deserves the People In Preservation In the Trenches award by being on the forefront of SOHO's battles to preserve landmarks such as the California Theatre and its Agua Caliente Racetrack mural, the Villa Montezuma, Balboa Park, and more. In addition to creating and narrating timely preservation videos, he has an online blog where he shares his stunning architectural photographs, rare historic images and research findings. Soderberg routinely advocates for endangered historic resources at public hearings and meetings, including San Diego City Council. The video documentary SOHO commissioned him to make for the group's 40th anniversary won a Governor's Historic Preservation Award in 2010.
The six-bedroom Swan House, with unobstructed bay views from its Inspiration Heights perch, was touted as "strictly modern" when it was constructed in 1916. Two of its three bathrooms had showers, and the hall was piped for a vacuum cleaner. A two-story turret resembling a lighthouse made this Prairie Style home a neighborhood landmark. Until its recent, ambitious restoration by Don Fay and Laura Wile, the house was known equally for its notably rundown appearance. Like many once celebrated early 20th century high-end homes, it had been the victim of poor exterior remodeling and deferred maintenance. With their faithful restoration of the structure designed by M.B. Melhorn and built by his father, M.V. Melhorn, Fay and Wile achieved a commendable transformation of this stately home from eyesore to inspiration.
SOHO's People In Preservation awards will be presented May 31 from 4 to 6pm in the Marston House formal gardens, 3525 Seventh Avenue. This festive event begins with a champagne reception, followed by the awards ceremony. Tickets are available in advance only and typically sell out. The cost is $55 per person ($45 for SOHO members). Find more information and buy tickets at SOHOsandiego.org or call (619) 297-9327.