The Lifetime Achievement Award, SOHO’s highest and rarely given honor, will be bestowed on John D. Henderson, FAIA, a devoted preservation architect who spent nearly 40 years restoring and rehabilitating San Diego’s crowning historic icons as a full-time professional and a volunteer. This honor is especially fitting during SOHO’s 50
anniversary celebration because Henderson helped launch the group. He was also at the forefront of the Gaslamp Quarter renaissance, helped write the California Historical Building Code, and researched, wrote, and edited two seminal San Diego architecture guides, among other contributions.
In its 37th year, the region’s most prestigious preservation awards ceremony will salute 23 individuals, groups, or entities on Thursday, May 30, during National Preservation Month. SOHO’s preservation heroes this year range in age from strong, industrious 13-year-olds to the energetic octogenarian John Henderson. The winners excelled at six residential and commercial restoration projects and several unique accomplishments.
Restoring historic homes can be highly rewarding and challenging. Just as Tammy Manse and AE Miller were about to restore and rehabilitate their 1927 Spanish Colonial Revival style home inside and out, fire badly damaged the property. Despite this traumatic setback, they went ahead with the removal of misguided 1980s alterations, such as a tall wall that hid the front of the house and a bay window on the canyon side. They restored key architectural features, including scalloped living-room ceiling beams that were salvaged from the fire and reworked; an arched fireplace with a terracotta hearth, both obscured by Victorian tiles; and wood-framed windows. In the canyon behind the home stands a wood cabin where the original owner, Alan Le May, wrote
which became a John Wayne movie. The restored house, the cabin, and the formerly overgrown canyon now work together to enhance Miller family life.
The intimate Gordon M. Wells Bungalow Court, now overshadowed by new, multi-story housing near downtown San Diego, was restored outside and transformed inside for “the boutique urban lifestyle” by Jonathan Segal, FAIA, a San Diego architect and developer.
The 280-square-foot, stand-alone cottages are studio apartments, boasting hardwood floors and improved indoor-outdoor connections that expand the compact living space with French doors to private patios.
SOHO commends Segal for preserving an example of popular and important San Diego housing history, and foregoing new high-density architecture where it would have been permitted.
The University of California at San Diego, founded in 1960, now has an important campus survey and evaluation of its architecture, landscape architecture, and cultural resources. The work of Architectural Resources Group of Los Angeles, Neu Campus Planning, Paul V. Turner, and UCSD Campus Planning will aid and inform the growing university in protecting and preserving its significant buildings and features, and establish its place in California architectural history. The report hails UCSD for “its extraordinary collection of intact, high-style Modern buildings and landscapes that form the backbone of its distinctive sense of place.” Citing designs by some of Southern California’s most esteemed Modernist architects—Irving Gill, Robert Alexander, Lloyd Ruocco, Robert Mosher, William Pereira, A. Quincy Jones, and others—the report concludes that “virtually every [architectural style and] phase of the Modern movement in San Diego … is represented on the campus.”
Jessica Johnson of Poway has earned the Town Crier Award for imaginatively promoting historic preservation and countywide exploration on social media, in newspaper articles, and a book. She launched her website Hidden San Diego in 2010, and soon expanded to Facebook and Instagram. She writes enticingly about irreplaceable, little known, majestic, or designated historic sites and buildings, some of which were saved by SOHO. Johnson provides her own arresting photographs to illustrate her enthusiastic narratives and intriguing posts. She has turned the internet into an entertaining and informative preservation tool available to all.
Four 13-year-old members of Girl Scout Troop #6786 of Spring Valley and Lemon Grove are receiving the Stewardship Award. They are among the youngest of more than 400 People In Preservation honorees selected over 37 years. Working with co-winners, the Lemon Grove Historical Society, they spent more than 300 hours repairing, restoring and re-stuccoing in vintage style two circa 1912 pillars that mark Lemon Grove’s first modern subdivision. Scouts Lianne Alforque, Danika Cuellar, Cher Flores, and Jordyn Gresham completed this strenuous, gritty Heritage Project in 2018, the San Diego County Girl Scouts’ centennial year. With troop leader Courtney Cuellar, the young preservationists have already been honored with a County Girl Scouts Silver Award and saluted by Lemon Grove’s mayor and city council.
Klonie Kunzel and the La Playa Trail Association are being recognized with the Keeper of the Flame Award. Formed in 2005 to continue a civic project begun during the 1930s, founder and president Kunzel and members promote the rich history of the La Playa area of Point Loma in concrete fashion. They raise funds to repair or erect monuments and plaques marking historic sites along La Playa Trail, first blazed by Kumeyaay Indians, then 18
-century Spanish explorers. The trail stretches from the harbor entrance to Mission San Diego de Alcalá in Mission Valley, and beyond. The group also published a pictorial history book on Point Loma.
In addition to the Millers in Mission Hills, three more couples are being honored for the outstanding restoration of their historic homes in San Diego and Del Mar. Michael and Rebecca Murphy are the third generation of Murphys to reside in their Mission Revival style home. They repaired its circa 1928 concrete foundation wall and porch roof, repainted the exterior, and restored its handsome mahogany windows. Now this Mission Hills residence is ready for more Murphys to come.
Dr. Craig Salt and Haruko Salt returned their two-story Prairie style home in North Park to its original appearance with the help of a single black-and-white photo taken circa 1920, when the house was new. Over the years, it suffered alterations and indignities, such as shutters added to the sleek, modern picture window; a front door from a big box store; and a pair of artificial stone pillars holding a gate across the driveway. Now its 28
Street façade is again as the first owners, Jesse and Dora Fleming, knew it: a spare, geometric design with a simple front porch, a second-story balcony, and a hand-crafted wooden front door resembling the original.
And in Del Mar, Barbara and Joe Harper restored and renovated their neglected, derelict Mission Revival style home. Sited on a large lot, the 1927 house might have been demolished and replaced with two or three new homes by a different owner. Its design represents the sophisticated yet simple elegance of the 1920s, when Del Mar was the playground of Hollywood stars and wealthy families. SOHO applauds the Harpers for investing heart, soul, and treasure in this charming historic home that will be admired and appreciated for many years to come.
The Wilkinson Block, a prominent two-story, Mission Revival style building in Normal Heights, was restored practically brick by brick and window by window by owner, SRM Urban. Built between 1926 and 1929, this Adams Avenue building houses apartments with generous windows above several street-level storefronts showcased by large plate-glass windows. Although the intact building was designated a City of San Diego historic resource, a previous owner unfortunately removed the original wood-framed windows. SRM had them rebuilt and all the bricks were repointed. In addition, a city-required seismic retrofit secured this landmark for the future.
SOHO’s People In Preservation awards ceremony will be held May 30 from 4 to 6pm in the historic Marston House formal garden, 3525 Seventh Avenue, San Diego. The reception features hors d'oeuvres and a wine and beer open bar. Tickets are only available in advance and cost $45 for SOHO members, $55 for non-members. They may be purchased online at
or by calling (619) 297-9327. Find more information about SOHO, membership, its historic sites and museums, and historic preservation advocacy and education programs at
Not all people were available as of this publishing. View winners' gallery