Historic buildings in Escondido hit by monthlong wave of vandalism

Robin Fox would be better off talking about all the good things the Escondido Historic Center is doing in the community, such as school tours of its historic Grape Day Park buildings, classes, public events, and curating an archive of historic city photos that is open to the public.

But lately, the center’s executive director is spending more time than she would like talking about the bad news that has troubled the center this winter. Over the past four weeks, vandals have visited the property on three weekend nights and smashed 18 large windows in the research center, Victorian house, barn, train depot and blacksmith shop.

Since then, the city – which owns and maintains the exterior of the buildings – has replaced some of the broken windows. But maintenance workers have not been able to continue with vandal return visits. A few weeks ago all seven ground floor windows of the 1890s-era Hoffman House were broken. And on the morning of Saturday, February 19, Fox arrived to discover that seven more windows had been broken into the center office and research center, an 1895 building that once served as Escondido’s first library.

The cost to replace only the windows in the library building will be up to $ 3,000.

“It’s sad and discouraging,” said Fox, a 25-year-old employee of the center who took over as CEO in 2018. “It’s hard to think of an easy way to stop this from happening again. “

The 1890s-era Hoffmann House is one of the historic buildings in Grape Day Park in Escondido that was recently vandalized. Seven of its windows were broken a few weeks ago.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Fox said vandalism has been a recurring problem since the Historic Center relocated to 321 N. Broadway Park in the mid-1970s. homeless in the park. To protect the historic buildings of the center from breakage, bars were placed on all the windows. The problem of park homelessness has become much less of a problem in recent years and the bars have long since been removed, but vandalism still occurs.

About 18 months ago, a firefighter set fire to a historic home between the library and the Hoffman House and almost flattened both buildings. Exactly at the same time, a man was arrested for breaking windows in the old train depot. Graffiti has also been a persistent problem.

Fox said anyone who has broken windows in the park over the past month is not interested in what is inside the buildings. The city has armed all the structures with motion sensors and alarms, but no one has attempted to enter the buildings or take anything inside.

Fox said one solution to help police solve the latest crime entertainment would be for the center to purchase and install cameras to capture images of vandals or vandals in action, but the center’s budget is too small. For the past three years, Fox has been the organization’s sole employee.

Robin Fox, executive director of the Escondido Historic Center, stands at Heritage Walk in Grape Day Park.

Robin Fox, executive director of the Escondido Historic Center, stands on the Heritage Walk in Grape Day Park, where some of the center’s buildings have been vandalized in recent weeks.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Founded as the Escondido Historical Society on February 3, 1956, the organization began to establish its historic building heritage walk in the Grape Day Park in 1975. Over the next five years, several local historic structures relocated to the park, including the building of the library, the 1901 Penner Barn, the 1908 Bandy Blacksmith and Wheelwright store, and the 1888 Santa Fe train depot, which is one of the oldest buildings in the city. In 1978, a Victorian house was moved from Ivy Street to the park, but it was destroyed the following year by a firefighter. In 1980, the Hoffman House was donated to take its place. In 2006, the society changed its name to the Escondido Historic Center.

Fox said the city has been a gracious owner over the years, taking care of buildings, paying electricity bills and installing security systems. The town also does periodic restorations on buildings and had already planned to do some work on the Hoffman House later this year. As a result, the city will stop replacing the seven broken windows of the house, which are now filled with plywood.

Fox said the center has about 300 members who support its programs and events, which include an annual home tour and walking tours. The center is also planning to resume its annual Grape Day celebration this year, an event that honors the city’s agricultural heritage.

In 1908, the city began organizing Grape Day events to celebrate the then-premiere production of the city with the coronation of a grape queen and king and, in later years, a parade. The Grape Day events disappeared around 1950, then the center revived the annual celebrations from 1998 to 2017. This year’s event, which will not include a parade or royal coronation, will be held on September 10th.

Fox said that on a busy Saturday, dozens of people will visit the museums on Heritage Walk, but all the newly filled windows make it look like the museums are closed. She hopes to recruit more volunteer docents this spring to bring more life and activity to the Heritage Walk. To volunteer, email Fox at fox@escondidohistory.org or call (760) 743-8207.

Historic buildings in Escondido hit by monthlong wave of vandalism Source link Historic buildings in Escondido hit by monthlong wave of vandalism

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