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HISTORY OF SOHO - THE FIRST TWENTY YEARS

Twenty Years of Preservation Efforts in San Diego - 1975
By Kathleen Flanigan

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President Bill Cartwright
Vice President Cia Brown
Secretary Esther Young
Treasurer Corrine Johnson
Ray Cadena
Carole Collier (Alternate)
Clare Crane
Keith Evans
Melinda Hussong (Alternate)
Ted Krauss
Sherri Peterson
Donna Regan (Alternate)
Pat Schaelchlin
Pat Tarasuck

1975 started off the new year with a boost when it and its president, William Cartwright, received a coveted Press Club award "For Heroism." Later, on January 26, SOHO members gathered for "an old fashioned Victorian dedication" of Heritage Park. County Supervisor Dick Brown presented proclamations to DeGraff Austin, Robert Miles Parker, and architect and SOHO member Bob Ferris for their efforts in the creation of the preserve.

Organization members came to the forefront in April, when the historic Red Roost and Red Rest La Jolla Cove cottages were threatened with demolition. The Historical Site Board claimed it needed a half million dollars to save the buildings. SOHO offered $15,000 and a lot of moral support. A historic preservation conference, held on April 12-13, in Balboa Park, focused on "Planning for the Past in an Urban Setting," and included discussion of these structures. The well-attended conference, sponsored by SOHO, the Historical Site Board, and offered as a U.C.S.D. extension course, also provided a tour, organized by SOHO, which included visits to the Sherman-Gilbert house, and the other three Victorian structures slated for movement to Heritage Park.

On April 13 at noon, an Antique Auto Parade noisily trekked down Broadway from 9th to Columbia in celebration of the planned restoration of downtown San Diego. President Cartwright said, "We believe that the parade will revitalize and create an additional awareness of the downtown San Diego are." The event, sponsored by SOHO, featured antique cars, a 1938 Yellowstone Nation Park touring bus, high wheel bicycles, and the Fairest of the Fair beauty contest entrants. Mayor Pete Wilson presented the Francis Family, owners of the Francis Family European Antique Emporium, an award from SOHO for their efforts "in the renovation of downtown San Diego." The Old Spaghetti Factory opened for lunch that day and offered a percentage of its proceeds to SOHO.

The San Diego Rowing Club building, erected at the foot of 5th Avenue in 1899, became the next target of concern for SOHO members. Slated for demolition to make way for a new marina, rowing enthusiasts vigorously fought this plan. In late April, club officials asked SOHO to help them designate the structure as historic. On July 11, the seventy-six year old frame clubhouse was voted a historic site by the Historical Site Board. Individuals felt that the designation would stir up interest in the historicity of the structure as well as delay demolition of the building. Bill Rick, chairman of the Historical Site Board stated that the "historic marking is advisory only since the Port (District) owns the tidelands on which the club is located. This is a spiritual rather than legal action." But the action did elicit community support as well as encouraged the publication of the book, The Little Clubhouse on Steamship Wharf, by Pat Schaelchlin, a SOHO member.

SOHO's involvement in the Rowing Club was coupled with its deep concern over the future of Heritage Park. It seemed that the County Cultural Heritage Committee had decided to replicate structures in the Victorian Preserve instead of utilizing actual buildings. Past President, Nicholas Fintzelberg, vehemently protested this plan to committee members on May 19. He recounted the original idea for Heritage Park, which provided for the moving of threatened Victorian houses to the area. In addition, he reminded committee members that his organization had three structures, the Christian, Burton, and Bushyhead dwellings, waiting for movement to the park.

However, the Cultural Heritage Committee refused at this time to eliminate replicas of Victorian storefronts from its master plan. Robert D. Ferris, architect and chairman of the committee, said, "The decision to reconstruct the store buildings was made more than two years ago. The committee decided it would not be feasible to move actual Victorian stores to the site." He continued, "The master plan was approved by the county Board of Supervisors two years ago and the County is providing $1.2 million for the project over a three year period and preliminary architectural plans have been completed." Ferris added that the target date for completion of the storefront area and bandstand along with the restoration of the three houses was July 4, 1976, in time for the Bicentennial celebration.

Robert Miles Parker complained bitterly to the County Board of Supervisors on May 20, when he condemned the construction of replicas as "a total travesty" and added that it was "completely against what the park was created for." Parker warned that if the plan was followed that he would recommend that remove the Sherman-Gilbert house to another site.

Goaded by involvement, many letters from concerned San Diegans found their way into print in the San Diego Union denouncing the building duplication plan. Finally, in December, the Board of Supervisors, faced with higher than expected costs, failed to reach an agreement to proceed with the controversial plans. Supervisor Jack Walsh, consistently a supporter of 's plans for the preserve, said that the Board "had a commitment to preserve some of the things of the past." By January 1976, the idea of replicated shops and a bandstand was completely dead due to a $284,000 bid, which was 20% above the architect's original estimate.

On June 10, the San Diego Historical Site Board presented six awards for preservation efforts in the city. SOHO, along with the County Board of Supervisors, received a Certificate of Recognition for the restoration of the Sherman-Gilbert house in Heritage Park.

Shortly thereafter, and the Women's Architectural League organized an Irving Gill tour in Uptown and Hillcrest on Saturday, July 19. The tour commenced at the historic Melville Klauber house at 3060 6th where visitors could purchase tour tickets, receive a booklet of information about the architect and his work, board buses to look at thirty-five structures, and walk through four of them. Member, Donna Regan, took charge and arranged for refreshments and entertainment "in a garden setting" at the Klauber house. Local Gill authority, Bruce Kamerling, and Conchita Paul, co-chaired the event with proceeds going for historic preservation programs.

On October 4, conducted a home tour of historic structures in National City which included: Brick Row, St. Matthews Episcopal Church, the George Webster house, Granger Music Hall, the Depot Restaurant, and two Kimball residence. The group provided a slide show and lecture on the history of National City at Kimball Hall. In addition, the entire 900 block of A Street was closed for a bazaar, which featured beer, wine, sandwiches, ice cream, and even Victorian artifacts for sale. Tickets cost $5.00 per person with proceeds used for the restoration of Granger Music Hall and on-going projects.

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ABOUT SOHO

HISTORY OF SOHO
- THE FIRST 20 YEARS

Preface | Beginnings | 1969

1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974

1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979

1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984

1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989

- THE SECOND 20 YEARS

Four Decades of Historic Preservation
in San Diego County

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2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-9327
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