Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) capped off an eventful 2011 with a major property acquisition that will allow the organization to broaden services and expand its regional outreach with the purchase of the 1884 Santa Ysabel General Store, one of San Diego backcountry’s most recognized historic landmarks.
Vacant for the past few years, the 1884 historic Santa Ysabel General Store will be restored and used as a Nature Interpretive Center, Mercantile and Visitor Center.
“The Santa Ysabel store is one of the rarest of building types in all of San Diego,” said Bruce Coons, SOHO executive director. “As the only adobe false front store left in the county, it was a priority site for SOHO to acquire to assure its protection and preservation.”
The plan is for SOHO to operate the site with several land conservancy organizations.
“This is an exciting opportunity to work with some of the most respected nature conservancy groups in the region — Volcan Mountain Foundation, San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, San Diego River Foundation and possibly others,” said Coons.
Once the building is open, these organizations, using knowledgeable volunteer staff, would offer visitor information on surrounding public trails, recreation opportunities, and cultural heritage sites of the backcountry, noted Coons.
Located at 30275 Highway 78, the store was purchased for $295,000. The iconic building is the most important site left of what was the historic town site of Santa Ysabel. The town retains much of its 19th century feel as it is still mostly buffered by open space.
One of the first orders of business is to restore the façade, replace windows and doors that have been removed or changed, and paint the building, which includes restoring its historic signage.
Local support has been strong already, reported Coons, and congratulations have been coming in from all over the backcountry as this much beloved building with its prominent location had people worried about its future.
SOHO purchased the store from the Tulloch family, a pioneer cattle ranching family who have for generations been caring for the land. They were eager to get the building into good hands and felt that SOHO, having demonstrated through the years how they can care for historic properties so that everyone can enjoy them, was a good fit for the property.
This marks the first time since 1969, when SOHO helped to purchase the Villa Montezuma in Sherman Heights, that SOHO has purchased a building.
SOHO operates the county-owned Whaley House museum, the city-owned Adobe Chapel and Marston House & Gardens, and the Vista Irrigation District-owned Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, Stage Station and Trading Post that is due to open in the spring.
SOHO is seeking donations to help restore the building and replenish funds.
For more information, Coons may be contacted at 619-297-9327 or firstname.lastname@example.org. SOHO’s website is Sohosandiego.org.