Santa Ysabel Store and Hoover Barn Historic Designation Being Sought
By A. Hayes & J. MacAskill
Cynotype c. 1910. Courtesy Hoover family
SOHO has been busy working on obtaining historic designations for the Santa Ysabel Store and the adjacent Hoover Barn, purchased in 2011 and 2014, respectively. While SOHO holds lease agreements to operate resources such as the Whaley House and the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, the purchases in Santa Ysabel represent a major investment in our mission: to restore our cultural and historic landscape by preserving two rare buildings rooted in a past that is fast disappearing.
Opportunities to purchase historic properties come and go fairly often, but one of the main reasons SOHO jumped at the chance to own two of San Diego County's oldest and most significant backcountry resources was out of a fear of losing them. Both were in extreme need of restoration. With decades of experience operating and maintaining historic sites, SOHO, unlike other potential buyers, was uniquely qualified and able to provide both buildings with the exceptional level of professional, preservation-minded stewardship they deserve.
The only false-front adobe store left in the county, Santa Ysabel Store was built by John Curlee in 1884, with the wood-frame addition constructed about ten years later. Restoring the façade and east wall was the most challenging part of the job. We also had to replicate or replace windows and doors that had been removed or changed over the decades. Using historical photographs and paint ghost lines, we carefully recreated the missing cornice. Paint forensics helped us to match the historic colors while its historic signage and embellishments were repainted painstakingly, guided by historical photos and layers of paint left over from the past century.
Read about the restoration of the c. 1890 barn, built by David L. Hoover, HERE.
SOHO recently was honored with a 2016 Governor's Historic Preservation Award for restoring the two buildings, considered "an excellent example of historic preservation efforts on behalf of California's cultural heritage," the State Office of Historic Preservation wrote. SOHO officials will accept the award in Sacramento on November 10.
Now that most of the restoration of both buildings has been successfully completed, the next step is to ensure their long-term preservation through historic designation. Each building is well over 100 years old and presents an excellent example of how a well-known landmark can be widely considered historic while not actually being listed on any official register. One would think designation would be a no-brainer for sites such as these, given their direct ties to agriculture, ranching, and the development of San Diego's backcountry in the 1800s. Unfortunately, designation doesn't happen automatically, even in the most obvious cases. In reality, obtaining historic designation usually takes a lot of time and hard work.
Thanks to SOHO President Jaye MacAskill and Historic Resources Specialist Amie Hayes, SOHO is on track for the historic designation of the Santa Ysabel Store and Hoover Barn by the County of San Diego sometime in 2017. Research and writing is already well underway. Making life easier, several necessary documents and references had already been collected by SOHO, including past surveys, historical photographs, and even some old newspaper articles. We recently met with David Lewis at the Julian Pioneer Museum to see what resources might be housed there. Mr. Lewis was very generous in sharing his personal scans of the Julian Sentinel from 1890-1893 to aid in finding references to the barn or store. We found several mentions and advertisements for the store in the Julian Sentinel and the San Diego Union. These newspapers provided information about the early proprietor and manager of the store and barn (they were initially owned by the same parties before being split into two parcels in the early 20th century) and noted some of the products for sale.
Researching properties for historic designation is a journey of discovery, and we look forward to learning more about the Santa Ysabel Store and Hoover Barn before this process is over. If you have any personal stories, historic photographs, or related documents to share about these sites, please contact Amie Hayes at SOHO, (619) 297-9327, as soon as possible to ensure that we include this information in our nomination report. We'll keep you posted as our work progresses.