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SOHO Buys the Barn!

SOHO purchased our second 19th-century site with the iconic historic Dutch-style barn in Santa Ysabel, in the heart of San Diego's backcountry. The Hoover Barn, ca. 1890, is a rare remaining example of wood barn, the likes of which once dotted the region's rural landscape.

"This is one of very few 19th-century barns in San Diego County," Bruce Coons, SOHO's executive director, said. "It's an important, increasingly precious cultural resource that speaks of the back country's vast ranching and agricultural uses, which are dwindling along with associated buildings in the 21st century.

"This purchase, which brings our holdings in Santa Ysabel to just over two acres, also reinforces SOHO's commitment to protect and preserve rural and urban historic resources and cultural landscapes in communities large and small."

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Hoover Barn circa 1890's, you can see the Santa Ysabel Store in the background. Courtesy Kathryn Greene

Hoover Barn circa 1896, showing surveyors' tents and cook, with barn in background. This was when the town site of Santa Ysabel was surveyed. Courtesy Hoover Family

2015 - This image and the two below show the sad condition of the barn with much work to be done! Large patches of roof had blown off, cupola louvers were missing, and plywood infills, these are just a few of the items that have been or are being restored. We hope you will consider a donation as funds are needed for the ongoing work.

2016 - Restoration in progress: plywood gone, new roof, which included structural as well. Recreation of the original opening to the bay where the harvest equipment was kept. Starting to look good!

The one-and-a-half story redwood barn with sliding wood doors looms above land adjoining the legendary 1884 Santa Ysabel Store property, which SOHO, the region's largest and most effective preservation group, bought in 2011. Now restored, the Santa Ysabel Store and Feed Store - Antiques & Such is open for business and community events. The adobe and wood building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, stands at the intersection of state Highways 78 and 79, roads connecting Ramona, Julian and Warner Springs.

The H-frame barn with a central hall plan was built on Washington Street behind the store in the late 19th century by David Leonard Hoover, who managed the store and a hotel next door. Hoover worked as the store's druggist and was also a rancher, according to a 2011 County of San Diego historic report. Descendants have made their historic photo collection available to SOHO in order to help restore these buildings accurately.

The barn's four bays were divided into horse stalls and storage space for carriages and harvesting equipment, with a hayloft above. SOHO plans to use the barn to house historic vehicles such as its Concord stage, which is used for public stagecoach rides, and a recently donated turn-of-the-century carriage. Special events, such as community gatherings, festivals, exhibits, antiques shows and sales, and weddings, may be held there in the future.

The County's 2011 historical assessment of the barn concluded it is eligible for listing on the National Register. SOHO, which has since purchased the property from the County, is restoring it and pursuing local, state and national landmark status.

The barn is "one of the few buildings remaining from the Santa Ysabel community built as early as circa 1890 associated with Santa Ysabel's agricultural history. The barn also retains a high degree of integrity...," the County's report states. It is worthy of landmark status due to "its early construction date.., the rarity of this property type, and its close association with events that made a significant contribution to the local community," the report continued.

Bob McDaniel, a lifelong Santa Ysabel resident who had worked in the barn when it was used by the County's Agricultural Department, brought the building's endangered status to SOHO's attention the first week after SOHO purchased the Santa Ysabel Store!

"So, you're the people who save things, right?" McDaniel asked Coons shortly after SOHO purchased the Santa Ysabel Store. McDaniel then pulled out a letter from the County informing Santa Ysabel residents that the barn was considered a nuisance to be burned down in just weeks.

SOHO immediately contacted County officials to tell them of the barn's historic significance and rarity, and stopped the plan to burn it. "The County didn't know the barn was historic. Once we spoke, they immediately agreed to fund the study that confirmed its age and historic importance," Coons said.

Restoration of the barn's exterior is nearly complete, including its cupola and a new roof, Coons said. After the redwood battens are reattached to the redwood walls, the building will be painted ivory, the same color as the store, and its hay pulleys will be reinstalled on both sides of the building.

"SOHO is indebted to Bob McDaniel, a great steward of Santa Ysabel history who died in February at age 86," Coons said.

McDaniel and his family ran the Santa Ysabel Store for decades, starting when he was a boy. His widow, Myra, served there as the town's post mistress. The McDaniels generously donated historic items from the store's past, including an original ceiling lamp, annual wall calendars from the 1920s through 1950s, and canned merchandise, to SOHO, which has put them on display.

"We're very glad Bob knew that we saved and restored both the store and the barn. He was very pleased about that," Coons said.

Read more about the Hoover Barn

View photo gallery of the Hoover Barn.


30275 Highway 78, Santa Ysabel 92070
(619) 297-9327

Not yet open to the public


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