Honoring those who preserve our local history

By Ann Jarmusch | Preservation Matters

May is special because it is National Historic Preservation Month. To celebrate, Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) publicly recognizes outstanding achievement by remarkable preservationists countywide. While demolition battles abound, many San Diegans are doing right by our collective heritage.

This year, 13 preservation projects and achievements are receiving prestigious honors in the 34th annual People in Preservation Awards, presented by SOHO each May.

This year’s lifetime achievement award is being shared by Charles Kaminski and Jeffrey Shorn, who have been leaders in historic preservation around San Diego since 1975. These architects are well known for helping to protect significant buildings, including the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Balboa Theatre. In 2004, the couple was featured in the groundbreaking book “A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture.”

In other awards, Madison Kirkman, a 17-year-old from Ramona, raised funds to have the remains of a 1908 aerodynamic McKeen motorcar moved from Alaska to his backyard, where it awaits restoration.

Sandor Shapery, a SOHO board member, will be honored for reproducing the wicker Osborn Electriquettes that ferried 1915 Panama-California Exposition visitors through Balboa Park. Now, 25 of the motorized carts can be rented in the park.

The Streamline Moderne Silverado Ballroom in City Heights, owned by David Chau, is once again a gleaming landmark. At Camp Pendleton, the Spanish Revival-style San Onofre Beach Club has been restored, but with a twist. Brigadier General Edward D. Banta of NAVFAC Southwest supervised the integration of anti-terrorism requirements.

The city of San Diego’s Commission for Arts and Culture is being honored for restoring 1920s and ’30s art and artifacts from the demolished Aztec Brewing Company in Barrio Logan and displaying them at the Logan Heights Library. The commission also restored historic artworks in Balboa Park.

Architect Trip Bennett is being honored for the restoration and adaptive reuse of La Jolla’s 1937 Fire Station Engine Company 13 for a YMCA.

For preserving elements of two 1920s buildings in the Downtown historic Warehouse District, architect Kevin Krumdieck and Cisterra Development’s Paul Thometz are also winners.

The owners of five homes built between 1916 and 1961 in several San Diego neighborhoods will also receive the coveted residential restoration awards.

  • Gen Leger and Chris Woods restored a 1961 Midcentury Modern home designed by Lloyd Ruocco and Homer Delawie.
  • Anna Wilcoxson restored her 1916 Prairie-style home.
  • Kevin Kravets returned his 1917 house to master builder Martin V. Melhorn’s design.
  • Devin and DeLayne Harmon were meticulous in restoring a grand Spanish Revival-style home.
  • Kyle and Tim Malone “unwrapped” aluminum siding to reveal arches, a parapet, and stucco, all now restored on their 1925 Mission Revival bungalow.

As these preservationists faithfully return buildings, art and vehicles to their original luster, they are generously preserving our rich and fascinating heritage. Let’s celebrate these heroes and heroines who have worked tirelessly to save and restore precious historic resources, making San Diego a more meaningful place to live, work and visit.

The 34th annual People in Preservation awards will be presented May 19 at the Marston house formal gardens, located at 3525 Seventh Ave., in Balboa Park. A catered champagne reception will kick off the event at 5:30 p.m. and the awards ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets, visit

—Ann Jarmusch represents SOHO and is the former architecture critic for the San Diego Union Tribune. She can be reached at 619-200-3340 or by email at For more information about SOHO, visit

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