Dear Friend of historic preservation and SOHO supporter,
As I sit down to write and ask for your donation at this traditional time of giving, I look back on all the things that SOHO has done during the past 12 months and it is remarkable even to me the many accomplishments the organization has achieved in just a single year and the numerous preservation issues in which we have prevailed.
I want to thank you for the integral part that you, our members and supporters, have played in helping us to achieve success of the past year, and allowing us to grow and expand into the backcountry. As the only regional historic preservation group in San Diego, it has been a long held goal to have a physical presence outside the city proper. With your help we have achieved this.
Some highlights of the past year that may give you pause to consider the significant role SOHO plays in this region and just how much our mission means to you.
- David truly bested Goliath in what has been the greatest preservation battle for the protection of the city's cultural heart, Balboa Park. Due in great part to your financial contributions we were able to thwart the most destructive plan in the park's near 100-year history and Balboa Park can now celebrate its centennial with pride and its heritage intact. Unfortunately the Plaza de Panama committee has appealed the judge's decision and so back to court we must go. We remain confident, but we must ask again for your help. Court cost are considerable and since SOHO is representing the public interest we are not awarded damages when we win a case.
- After years of advocacy involving a coalition of organizations and politicians, and ultimately through legal action taken by SOHO, the former Caltrans Building has been transferred to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This allowed Old Town to reclaim a key piece of San Diego's early history and is the first major land acquisition since the 1960s for the park.
- We restored the 1884 Santa Ysabel Store, the first building purchased by SOHO in decades and while there is still much work to be done, we have already become a backcountry destination for visitors. Our presence has allowed us to highlight and introduce historic preservation to new constituencies.
- Our latest achievement in San Diego's spectacular backcountry is the opening of the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House. For years the site was named one of the Most Endangered in the State of California by the National Park Service and by SOHO. Preserving and opening this National Historic Landmark to the public only begins the work needed to complete the restoration of the house, site, and the last known hand hewn timber frame barn in the region. This site is spectacularly important and deserves the utmost attention and resources.
I don't have to tell you that even among preservation advocacy organizations SOHO is unique. As you know we wear many hats, we provide museum programming year round for five sites and produce educational events like our annual Historic Home Tour where we showcase beautiful and interesting homes, with a focus on the educational merits of preservation and neighborhood revitalization.
Our Old Town Día de los Muertos celebration has become internationally known in just four short years. It not only brings an economic boost to the oldest neighborhood in San Diego, it illustrates enormously the positive benefits of Cultural Heritage Tourism.
SOHO's role first and foremost is to be your advocate for the region's historic places, its cultural landscapes, and its collective heritage. In addition, we work one on one consulting and advising owners of historic sites, work with developers, elected leaders and multi-agency staff on a broad array of issues that are all integral to our mission, saving San Diego's heritage. SOHO also oversees 12 historic buildings, 9 of which are open to the public regularly; and maintains educational and cultural programming year round.
We are able to do all this because we have an ever-growing group of committed, hardworking employees and volunteers who make it all happen. We have the support of you, the community, and we have the growing respect of the building industry which has come to understand that working with SOHO is a better path for everybody concerned, for their projects, our communities, and for generations to come.
The same can be said for our work on Cultural Heritage Tourism as we are starting to see political, business and tourism leaders come to the realization that they are sitting on a goldmine of economic and sustainable tourism dollars. This can be seen at the Old Police Headquarters, now a new shopping and dining destination; SOHO worked long and hard to save this building along with others and we have continued to provide consultation throughout the renovation process.
I feel extremely lucky to be able to work every day doing something I love and hope that you know just how appreciative all of us at SOHO are to have your support. We stretch all of our resources as much as possible, no donation is too large or too small, and we really need your help to keep up with the ever-urgent pace required in a county as large and varied as San Diego.
Your gift, whatever its size, will help us continue and improve our ability to provide the high standard of excellence that you have come to expect from SOHO, and enable us to do the vital work you and the public depend on.
On behalf of our board and staff, we wish you a wonderful holiday season enjoying our beautiful San Diego County in all its historic and cultural richness.
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