Red Bungalow Update – September 2023

Posted On September 11, 2023


We have another update for you on the Red Bungalow at 820 Fort Stockton Drive. 

When we last reported in March 2023, the owner/developer had submitted a second historical report to the City.  That second historical report concluded that the property was not eligible for historic designation under any criterion, contrary to the developer’s first submitted report, which had concluded that the property was eligible for historic designation under multiple criteria. 

Given the conflicting historical reports; communications supporting eligibility for historic designation from Mission Hills Heritage (MHH), the Save Our Heritage Organisation, and other experts in the field of historical architecture; and the groundswell of interest expressed by the public for preserving this treasure – we fully expected the matter to be forwarded to the Historic Resources Board (HRB) for determination regarding a historic designation. 

To the dismay of many, the City informed MHH in late June 2023 that it had made a ministerial determination that there was not sufficient evidence to place the matter before the HRB to determine whether the Red Bungalow merits historic designation.  This ministerial decision cleared the way for the developer to begin the demolition of the Red Bungalow and an application for a demolition permit was filed on July 25, 2023. 

While MHH believes that the City Staff’s determination is wrong, we also believe that the proper arbiter for the determination of historical significance and integrity is the HRB.  In order to obtain a fair hearing on the historical merits of the Red Bungalow, MHH sought the assistance of a respected expert in architectural investigation and historic preservation, IS Architecture.  The professionals at IS Architecture agreed to research and evaluate the historical significance and integrity of the Red Bungalow, and if they deemed it appropriate, to submit a historical nomination report for the HRB’s consideration.  In the nomination report submitted on August 1, 2023, IS Architecture expressed its professional opinion that the Red Bungalow is historically significant under three criteria:

The property at 820 Fort Stockton Drive / 4053 Goldfinch Street is significant under Criterion A, C, and D. Criterion A for a significant association with the development of San Diego in preparation for The Panama-California Exposition, development of the Streetcar Suburbs, the architectural development of McFadden and Buxton and as a rare example of a purpose-built single-story duplex Craftsman-type bungalow. Criterion C for embodying the distinctive characteristics of the Craftsman architectural style, and Criterion D as representing the work of Master Architect William H. Wheeler and the firm of McFadden & Buxton. The period of Significance is 1912.

On September 1, 2023, City Staff informed MHH that they had received the nomination and deemed it to be complete, and that they would schedule the nomination to be heard by the HRB at its September 28, 2023 hearing.  Staff further cautioned MHH that they would not be recommending historic designation for the Red Bungalow under any criteria. 

And now we are in familiar territory, with the City showing either ambivalence or outright hostility to the historical resources in the Mission Hills neighborhood, forcing MHH and other concerned parties to devote significant time and funds in order to secure some semblance of due process.  Meanwhile, the property is left to languish and deteriorate. 

But MHH is committed to pursuing historic designation for the iconic Red Bungalow and we are going to need a massive showing of community support.  Specifically, we will need:

  • Supporters to attend or comment at the September 28, 2023 HRB hearing – expressing your support for historic designation of the Red Bungalow.  We will provide details about the meeting and comment procedures as the date draws nearer via posting on the MHH website and emails to members.
  • Financial contributions to offset the significant costs incurred to research, prepare, and file the nomination of the Red Bungalow.  Contributions may be made via the MHH website as follows:
    • Select “GET INVOLVED”
    • Then, Make a Donation
    • Make your donation and in the “Leave a Comment” block enter Save the Red House
  • The costs to IS Architecture and MHH to fight to preserve this historic resource are significant. We are setting a goal of $10,000 with this fundraiser to cover these costs.

Let’s work together to save the beloved Red Bungalow!