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Touring the Mission Hills Historic District

Preservationists lead April 16 walk

Allen Hazard and Janet O’Dea are more than husband and wife. They are longtime Mission Hills residents, historians and preservationists who, on April 16, will take visitors on an “Insider’s Walking Tour” of the Mission Hills Historic District, home to some of the finest architectural masterpieces of the early 20th century and beyond.
The walk will cover the Mission Hills Historic District of 75 homes built between 1908 and 1942.
All proceeds will go toward the purchase of a cemetery marker in Pioneer Park, site of the former Calvary Cemetery, and the 40th Sweetwater High School Reunion.
Hazard and O’Dea say the tour will take walkers on a journey through the oldest part of the original Mission Hills subdivision, which was established in January 1908 and will discuss and interpret the architectural trends of the early 20th century. Those trends include the bungalow, Craftsman, Prairie School, Mission and Spanish Revival and Period Revival styles built by leading architects such as Emmor Brooke Weaver, William Hebbard, Del Harris and David Owen Dryden.
“Walkers will hear brief histories of the earliest residents who were artists, inventors, athletes, business and civic leaders,” the tour leaders said. Hazard and O’Dea will discuss the impetus for the first residents’ driven historic district in America, a process that began in 2002 with the loss of an important and unique Craftsman and culminated with neighborhood support and city approval in 2007.
The walking tour will show historic photos of the former John McNeil Mansion that was demolished over 70 years ago.
Walkers will also encounter a few surprises and secrets along the way as they learn about the people who lived in one of San Diego’s most exclusive neighborhoods, including R.E. “Pappy” Hazard, former Rough Rider Thomas Rynning, poet John Vance Cheney, singer Alice Barnet Stevenson and others. They will also view the home where Art Linkletter met and dated his wife, where Lana Turner spent one of her wedding nights and where the King of Spain lived.
Also on the tour will be the Mission Hills Nursery at 1525 Fort Stockton Drive. About 1913, Kate Sessions, the “mother of Balboa Park,” moved her nursery from the park to Mission Hills. Her first nursery was at the northeast corner of West Lewis and Stephens streets and extended to Lark and Montecito streets. Sessions urged John Spreckles to complete a trolley line to Mission Hills and the line stopped in front of her nursery. She later abandoned that site for the Fort Stockton Drive site in 1917. “Today the Mission Hills Nursery is one of the oldest in San Diego and is a series of rambling sections with plenty of places to discover that something special for your home and garden,” say Hazard and O’Dea.
Hazard is a college teacher and former Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) board member. He developed and coordinated all walking tours and home tours for Mission Hills Heritage between 2005-2007. O’Dea owns L.B. Powers & Son Plumbing and serves on the Uptown Planners. She is also a former SOHO board member. Both were leaders establishing Mission Hills Heritage in 2005.
The first walk begins at 11 a.m. L.B. Powers & Son Plumbing. Additional tours will start at 11:30 a.m., noon and 12:30 p.m.
The cost of the tour are $15 for adults. Children under 12 are free. Tickets can be purchased the day of the tour, beginning at 10 a.m. at L.B. Powers & Son Plumbing, 1705 West Lewis St.

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