History Up in Smoke
Folks in southern California are still assessing all the damage caused by wildfires last fall. Fires destroyed about 2,200 homes—along with at least a dozen historic structures.
The Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) of San Diego has compiled a list of buildings lost to the fire. At the top: the Sikes adobe farmhouse in Escondido, which dated back to 1869 with wood additions in 1881; it was fully restored in 2004. The main task for the organization that oversees the Sikes, San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, is to rebuild. It’s unclear how much that will cost or when the work might be completed.
The same questions remain for the other historic buildings that went up in smoke. They include:
• An 1880s schoolhouse in Ballena
• An 1870s house in Ballena
• 1920s Craftsman homes in Del Dios
• Bratton House (late 1800s) in Jamul
• Several buildings at the Honey Springs Ranch, built in the 1930s, also in Jamul
• Thing Brothers Store (1890s) in Tecate
• William Flack House (1895) in Ramona
Buildings destroyed in the San Pasqual Valley include:
• Clevenger House (1872)
• Fenton Ranch House (1930)
• Judson Houses (1880s and 1896-97)
• Peet-Haley House (1908)
• Rockwood Ranch barn (1882)
• San Pasqual Store (1930s)
Help for the Harvey House
A century ago, many passengers on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe stayed at the Havasu Harvey House in Seligman, Arizona. The 50-room hotel, with a restaurant, lunch counter, reading room and bar, closed in 1984.
With its gutted interior, leaking roof and torn down sections, the building is slated to be demolished this year.
Friends of Havasu is campaigning to save the Harvey House. The group envisions a restored hotel serving as a centerpiece for tourism in the remote Route 66 town. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, successor to the AT&SF, will donate the Harvey House to any qualified group that can move the building. A feasibility study is underway to determine if that is possible, and the group is talking with investors interested in the project (520-422-3633).
Folks in Seligman could learn from a project up the road in Needles, California. Last March, a $10 million restoration of the El Garces Harvey House began. It’s funded by the City of Needles and Allan Affeldt, who already brought back the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona. El Garces will house a restaurant, visitors center, museum and hotel, and should be finished by the end of 2008—just in time to celebrate the building’s 100th anniversary.
760-326-0583 • elgarceshotel.com
Faith and Hope
St. Augustine’s Church has served Austin, Nevada, since 1866. The sanctuary is about to find a new purpose—thanks to Jan Morrison.
The Catholic Diocese in Reno closed the building in 1981. Local residents fought to keep it away from the wrecking ball, while church members continued to hold lay services in the building.
In 2004, Morrison bought the church for $26,000. She formed the nonprofit St. Augustine’s Cultural Center and obtained more than $350,000 in state grants to fund renovation. First up: a new roof, installed last October. Currently underway: reconstruction of the bell tower and restoration of 14 murals dating to the 1930s that depict the Stations of the Cross. She also plans to reacquire St. Augustine’s statues, vestments and chalices stored by the Reno Diocese.
The project should be finished this summer. Eventually, St. Augustine’s will host community functions, classes and even the occasional church service.
Walls Came Tumblin’ Down
Money couldn’t save the Denison, Texas, High School.
In late September, the wrecking ball knocked down the structure, which was built in 1913. The school was closed in 1986; at the time of demolition, the facility was owned by the City of Denison.
In June, the building began to crumble. A grassroots organization mobilized, and within a month, it had raised $700,000 with commitments of up to $2 million. A conditions assessment report was in the works, but officials still demolished most of the Spanish mission-style structure.
The site will now be used for a community center or library. A 30-foot clock tower salvaged from the school may be placed in a commemorative garden.
877-639-8237 • savedenisonhistory.com