LINES IN THE SAND—For a city that makes a buck off of tourism, it should do more to preserve historical resources. Preservation linked with redevelopment has a good fiscal track record. Cases in point are the restoration of the Gaslamp Quarter, the East Village Warehouse District, Little Italy, U.S. Grant Hotel, Balboa Theatre, Birch North Park Theatre and the USS Midway.
Each May, Save Our Heritage Organisation reminds us we can do more. Last week, SOHO announced its 2012 Most Endangered List of Historic Resources in a call for more responsible historic preservation action. The list, released during National Preservation Month, includes 12 sites, five of which are new this year and seven that were cited last year.
Below are the five newly listed endangered resources:
LA JOLLA POST OFFICE, 1140 Wall Street
The U.S. Postal Service's planned closure of thousands of post offices across the country is taking a huge toll on historic buildings, especially WPA-era post offices, as the agency disregards federal legal protections for historic properties. La Jolla's beloved post office, enhanced by a monumental indoor mural of La Jolla during the 1930s by noted artist Belle Baranceanu, is one such endangered landmark. A mélange of Spanish architectural styles mixed with Art Deco and WPA Modern, this small building is widely considered a community asset well suited to La Jolla's village scale and atmosphere. Yet it has been deemed without historic or architectural value and is in imminent danger of being shuttered and sold to the highest bidder.
To lose this building would be an unnecessary and senseless violation of La Jolla community life and fabric. Its charm and dignity anchor the La Jolla business district and are assets to the new National Main Street Business District. Its mural is considered one of the artist's most important works.
Other concerned group: La Jolla Historical Society’s Leslie Davis, Save Our La Jolla Post Office Task Force,
BOVET ADOBE, Sorrento Valley
This little-known, seldom-visited adobe was built in 1854 during the transition between the Mexican and American periods by the Frenchman Pierre Bovet. Owned by the city of San Diego, it stands in the Carroll Canyon area of Sorrento Valley. This fragile, one-story resource and its riparian surroundings are dissolving into the landscape, the most obvious threats being the roadway embankment, erosion, vandalism, and neglect.
Noted artists such as Eva Scott Fenyes of Pasadena, who traveled the state painting watercolors of California missions and adobes during the early 20th-century, and Helen Hill, a student of the San Diego master Alfred Mitchell, created plein-air paintings of the structure, about forty years apart.
Straightforward actions need to be taken as first steps in protecting this adobe: it needs to be designated a local landmark by the city, and environmentally friendly trails need to be added in the vicinity to allow the public access to this treasure without encroaching upon its ecosystem or setting, and its sensitive archeological resources need to be addressed.
MONUMENT MESA, FRIENDSHIP PARK, Border Field State Park
Italian marble obelisks mark the U.S.-Mexico border at intervals from California to Texas. The one closest to the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, Old Boundary Marker 1 (now known as Boundary Marker 258), was erected in the 1850s and resurfaced in 1894. Originally, of course, American and Mexican citizens could freely approach the marker from either side of the border, but in recent years the Bush administration bypassed all environmental and preservation laws, which resulted in multiple fences that now keep people away from the marker and from each other. In the past, this area was known as Friendship Park and was a meeting place where families and friends on both sides of the border came together to socialize.
The nonprofit Friends of Friendship Park worked with the Border Patrol, the state parks department and other agencies to redesign this forbidding but historic area and allow limited public access. Their efforts to bring people closer together again are more successful than the government's treatment of the monument. A target of taggers, the obelisk is fenced off on the American side, and with no way to access the site, protection from graffiti and other vandalism is impossible.
MARRON ADOBE, Haymar Dr., Carlsbad
Built in the 1850s and still owned by direct descendants of the original owners, the Marron Adobe is one of the last intact adobes in San Diego County. It is a rare surviving example of early-stage adobe ranch house construction and the oldest house in Carlsbad. Its setting includes the area's last stretch of unspoiled, natural open space, some of which is sensitive habitat. Buena Vista Creek, El Salto Falls, and archaeological sites are part of this cultural landscape.
This landscape and home has weathered threats from proposed freeway construction and a quarry. Now, a tract home builder wants to develop new housing that would wipe out the last of the unspoiled land and impact irreparably the historic view sheds that have existed since before the adobe was even built. An environmental impact report is in the works for the major housing development.
FARMERS MARKET, Barrio Logan
Walmart demolished most of the iconic Farmers Market that was a neighborhood landmark as well as a freeway beacon. Its tower with the name painted on it could be seen from great distances. Now one of its towers and multiple walls are a pile of rubble despite protests and court action by preservationists and community activists. SOHO says WalMart claims it will "reinterpret" the building that had been deemed eligible for historic designation. This demolition bypassed the normal historic review processes. City staff claimed the project met the Secretary of Interior Standards, which clearly by any interpretation of the standards it did not. Was this a case of incompetency or bureaucratic meddling,? asks SOHO.
Seven threatened sites that remain on the list from 2011 are:
Teacher's Training Annex #1, University Heights
Star Builder Supply Company, Little Italy
Villa Montezuma, Sherman Heights
California Theatre and (new to the list) its Caliente Racetrack Mural, Downtown San Diego
Rancho Guejito, Escondido
Red Roost and Red Rest Cottages, La Jolla
Source: Save Our Heritage Organisation, San Diego County's largest and California's oldest continuously operating preservation advocacy group, compiles the Most Endangered List to focus public attention on and promote the protection and restoration of important historic sites, buildings and landscapes that are threatened by development, demolition or neglect. (619) 297-9327 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Belle Baranceanu Mural circa 1935, La Jolla Post Office WPA project.
U.S. Border Monument number 258 shown in 1894
Bovet Adobe in 1958, Jim Hamilton photo courtesy of Friends of the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, www.penasquitos.org
Marron Adobe, Carlsbad, SOHO photo.
Logan Heights Farmers Market building in process of being demolished, Spring 2012