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A Historian's Legacy of Research and Restoration

Don Covington was a key architect of North Park's renaissance

By Thomas Shess

Don Covington, a long time resident and good neighbor to all of North Park, died last month. When his son Paul notified friends, colleagues, neighbors and this newspaper that North Park's pre-eminent historian, scholar, artist and community leader had passed away on May 13, the sad news left many in disbelief and tears.

Don added immeasurable grace to North Park. His contributions to the community's history and legacy are as rich as his art and his gentle leadership.

He and his wife Karon of 48 years were the conscience and backbone of many causes and accomplishments in North Park and in San Diego's historical community. His death came at 73 from pneumonia brought on by chronic leukemia.

Don was foremost a teacher. He shared what he understood in a series of community lectures and at the San Diego Historical Society. He taught students at San Diego State University fine arts and interior design, and how to appreciate them by understanding history.He and Karon taught an entire city that older neighborhoods are treasures to be preserved, restored and celebrated. Their ability to communicate the importance of 20th century Arts & Crafts design and architecture helped lead to North Park's renaissance as a Craftsman community today.

They practiced what they lectured. Their home built in 1916 by builder/designer David Owen Dryden is a classic of restoration. Located on the southwest corner of 28th Street and Myrtle Avenue, this modest yet finely detailed home is a model for all Craftsman bungalow owners.

Don researched, wrote, illustrated and published "Burlingame, The Tract of Character 1912-1929." He also was a regular contributor to the Journal of San Diego History, North Park News and other publications, including a definitive article on Dryden's North Park homes in American Bungalow.

At his death, Don and Karon were researching and writing the "History of North Park." The manuscript is finished through 1940. With support from family, friends and the community, Karon is urged to continue the labor of love.

A memorial service was held July 6 on the lawn of the Marston House.

Editors note: Don and Karon Covington, longtime SOHO members held the very first SOHO fundraiser in their back yard over 30 years ago. He will be missed greatly by all of us at SOHO.

2002 - Volume 33, Issue 2

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