We had the good fortune of connecting with Ginger Weatherford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ginger, what do you want people to remember about you?
In the end, I would like people to remember me for promoting historic preservation through demystifying the concept. Educating the general population, policy makers, and government leaders, about architectural history and historic preservation with the goal of property owners and developers choosing preservation over demolition and building something new, because they have an appreciation for historic architecture and why preservation is good for their community (aesthetic, symbolic, cultural, social, educational, economic, among others). I would like to be known for my tangible contributions in preserving important places, structures, and cultures by writing as many historic designation reports in my career as possible, to ensure the legacy of architectural styles, architects, builders, cultures, and neighborhoods. I would also like to be remembered for my intangible contributions to preservation, through my continued efforts to document historic objects through photography. Even if the physical object is no longer standing, I would love people to remember the images and histories through gallery and museum exhibits, articles, and books. And I would like to be remembered for my smile, infectious laugh, compassionate and loving treatment of family, friends, and humanity, and my love of fun and unique eye glasses!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I help property owners apply for historic designation and building permits for properties over 45 years old by preparing historical research reports to submit to their local preservation commission. One of the things I love most about my business is using my photography skills to document the property. The first thing I do is meet with the homeowner to discuss the process and possibility of historic designation. During this initial meeting, I take photographs of each elevation, including details. Then in-depth research consists of finding all owners and occupants of the property from the built-date until the present; researching each owner and occupant to determine their level of significance in local, state or national history; locating a Notice of Completion to confirm builder and/or architect; looking for historical photographs; reviewing Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, the Residential Building Record and building permits to confirm original footprint of the property and any alterations. I make sure every aspect of the project is handled by me so the clients do not have to worry about any of the details. I get the reports written, printed and delivered to the appropriate city or county along with any fees. When additional report copies are requested, I submit the report to the printer to get a bulk pricing discount, pick up the reports and deliver them to the historical resources department. Once a hearing is set, I represent the client on the day of the hearing to make a presentation and answer any questions. When I was about 10 years old, I decided I wanted to be an architect. Not just any architect, a preservation architect. I studied Environmental Design at San Diego State University, and when the program was cancelled two-and-a half years in, I switched gears to a different type of architecture. Information Systems. Working in the technology field in the San Francisco Bay Area, after earning a bachelor of science in business administration with an emphasis in information systems, did not lend itself to free time to pursue historic preservation as a passion project. I decided to earn a master of preservation studies at Tulane University. After 10 years of working for environmental consulting firms, archaeology firms and the City of San Diego’s Historic Resources Department I decided to venture out on my own as an independent architectural historian. My first few clients were research reports for demolition or remodeling permits. This felt wrong as a preservationist. I was supposed to be helping people save their houses not allowing them to tear them down. I had to justify taking those clients as a way to pay the bills and made it clear I was just doing the research and writing the reports, not trying to sway the decision makers one way or the other. My first designation client was in Coronado for the Baby Del. This grand Victorian made history in the 1980s when it was moved from Sherman Heights to Coronado by barge and cranes. Chronic illnesses caused many set-backs with my consulting practice over the last six years. Family and friends believing in me has kept me from giving up. My love of architecture and historic preservation has been the motivation for continuing to offer my services as a preservation consultant. One of the most important things I have learned is to set-up a work life balance. Self-care is just as essential as being dedicated to preserving architecture. I can no longer stay up all night two nights in a row to meet deadlines. Focused work, balancing between administrative, marketing, and completing reports and setting clear business hours is helping me with confidence and productivity while enjoying time spent with family and friends without feeling guilty for not constantly working on projects.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love showing people the best things to do in San Diego for free. Balboa Park, Heritage Park in Old Town, riding the elevator at the Westin Hotel on Broadway, riding the elevator at the Central Library and going to the ninth floor to check out the view of the city, driving over to Coronado to see the best view of downtown San Diego in the county, going to Kate Sessions Park to see the best view of the rest of San Diego, watching the waves at Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach, and Calumet Park in Bird Rock, driving or walking around the historic neighborhoods to admire the architecture; Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, Point Loma, Liberty Station, Sunset Cliffs, Golden Hill, Sherman Heights, South Park, North Park, Burlingame, University Heights, Hillcrest, Kensington, the Gaslamp Quarter, and in the East County, La Mesa and Mount Helix, walking over all the historic bridges; Spruce Street Bridge, Quince Street Bridge, First Avenue Bridge, Georgia Street Bridge, Cabrillo Bridge. Now for some things that aren’t free. Catch a show at the Casbah, the Music Box, the House of Blues, the Spreckels Theatre, the Balboa Theatre, check-out the best view in the city while enjoying a delicious meal at Mister A’s, more of my favorite restaurants; Starlite, Stone Brewery, Isola Pizza (make sure and order a budino!), Bahn Thai, Amarin Thai, Urban Plates, Great Maple, Parakeet Café, Twiggs Café, Gelato Vero Caffe, Salt & Straw, Donut Bar.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mama and dad, without them being so loving and generous by letting me move into their guest house, supporting me emotionally and financially while suffering through and recovering from chronic vertigo, I wouldn’t have had the courage to venture out and start my own consulting business. My dear group of creative, supportive, positive friends who I can always count on to believe in me. And my sweet, caring, compassionate, understanding boyfriend Jake. Without him letting me know he would still love me and we would figure out the financial aspects if I decided to leave the source of steady income I had for the past two years, I wouldn’t have had the courage to continue running my preservation consulting business full-time again.
Jake Sexton, Ginger Weatherford, Multiple Listing Service, The San Diego Union