Written by Gloria Tierney
Coronado City Council rejected a request to overturn a decision by the Historic Resources Commission to designate as historic a Victorian-style house at 1004 Tenth Street this week.
The vote was 3 to 5 on Tuesday night, with Councilmen Al Ovrom and Richard Bailey opposing the involuntary designation.
The appeal was brought by the heirs of Eugene and Frances Horton, who wanted to demolish the home, so they could replace it was a multi-family structure. There is an apartment building and a condominium complex on either side of it.
The house was built in 1898 by the Coronado Beach Company and at one point it may have served as worker housing for the employees of the Hotel del Coronado. The Historic Resources Commission (HRC) had ruled that it met the criteria for historic designation. A claim the family and its attorney Scott Moomjian challenged.
“No historical evidence was presented, in evaluating the property’s eligibility, HRC failed to use and apply historic designation guidelines,” Moomjian said.
The city “ought to hold an involuntary designation to higher level of proof,” Moomjian said. At the very least it should have given the Horton heirs the opportunity to go back and do the necessary research,”
In rejecting the appeal the council eliminated one of the criteria the commission used to declare the house historic and approved a language change suggested by Mayor Casey Tanaka.
“The dwelling exemplifies a special element of Coronado’s architectural history because the design of the Hotel Del Coronado, several other large buildings around the Hotel Del Coronado and a lot of small cottages, such as the subject dwelling, were a significance to Coronado architectural history.”
This was changed to read “because it was part of the growth of Victorian architecture in the early years of the City of Coronado and was inclusive of small cottages, such as the subject dwelling.”
This was one of the few times; the HRC had supported an involuntary historic designation. In the 13 years since its inception, there have only been a handful of appeals,” said commission member Jon Ryan.
He called the house “a little Orphan Annie.” “Surrounded by a multi-family dwelling, it truly is out of place. We all wish we could move it, but we can’t.”
“That this is involuntary troubles me,” Councilman Bailey said. “I’m not in favor of taking property rights, if [the home] isn’t historical.”
Peter Horton, speaking on behalf of his family, expressed a level of frustration and stress. He said this decision poses a “financial hardship on three generations of the Horton family.”
Councilwoman Barbara Denny expressed sympathy for the families’ economic hardship. Though she argued that the needs of the community to preserve it’s historic buildings was more important.
“This Little Orphan Annie will find a buyer and it will shine,” she said.