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Friday, August 16, 2013


CIRCA 1890

GUEST BLOG—By Alana Coons, Save Our Heritage Organisation--The historic Santa Ysabel Store, a familiar landmark since 1884, where State Highways 78 and 79 meet, is once again a thriving market and social hub of backcountry life for locals, day-trippers, and vacationers alike.

Now restored inside and out and outfitted with authentic 19th-century furnishings by Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), this unique emporium stocks artisanal foodstuffs, home and garden wares, heirloom seeds and bulbs, and many other specialty and hard to find items. All of the merchandise is carefully selected to meet the goals of today's fashionable and meaningful activities, such as farm-to-table meals and do-it-yourself projects. A visitor center, geared to those interested in backcountry historic and cultural sites or recreation, offers a rich selection of maps, books and information on local attractions.

Since SOHO, San Diego's only countywide historic preservation group, bought, restored and reopened the store in 2012, the landmark has quickly reprised its role as the most important heritage site still standing in this turn-of-the-20th-century farming town. The store was built of adobe in 1884 and expanded in the 1890's with a wood-frame section dedicated to animal feed and farming supplies. The impeccably restored façade with its original signage in black lettering on the cream building, beckons to one and all.

The reception to our store and visitor center has been so positive and supportive that SOHO is expanding with a new specialty that's a natural for us: salvaged architectural elements along with vintage, antique and reproduction home and garden furnishings, including lighting, pottery, china, and more.

SOHO regularly receives donated items to help fund the important historic preservation work the group does. Now, with the store expanding into the former feed area, the nonprofit organization is actively seeking quality donations of antiques and vintage architectural artifacts for the resale shop, set to open the weekend of September 21 and 22. All sales proceeds will benefit SOHO and all donations are tax-deductible.

We're looking for especially nice items, fine furnishings, folk or primitive pieces, items from all eras, even up through mid-century modern.  We so appreciate the generosity of people who support the work that SOHO does, and will be happy to provide potential donors with a list of items we cannot accept. We ask that donations be delivered to the store during open hours Friday through Sunday, or that donors make other arrangements by contacting the SOHO office in San Diego.

In this ever-changing treasure-trove, named "The Feed Store" and housed in the store's 1890's addition, you may find a claw-foot oak table, ornamental iron, salvaged doors, hinges, rare books, stained-glass windows or sets of vintage china. Preservationists, artists, architects, collectors, students and history buffs seeking materials for restoration and recycling projects or for personal pleasure should enjoy the hunt in this 1,000-square-foot space.

Meanwhile, SOHO's storekeepers are always on the lookout for natural and seasonal goods to sell in the main general store. It's brimming with handcrafted, earthy authenticity in the form of specialty and regional products, cheese-making kits, honey, preserved fruits and vegetables, baked goods, candies, and so much more, all thoughtfully curated for this refreshingly rural, accessible destination. For example, the nearby town of Julian is known for its eruptions of hundreds of spring daffodils, so the store plans on expanding its already popular heirloom seed collections by carrying species and wild form bulbs including daffodils that area gardeners may find irresistible.

The Santa Ysabel Store is open Friday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm, with plenty of free parking. For more information and to make donations call (760) 765-1270 or (619) 297-9327, or visit and

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