Historic Home Information

Are you drawn to older neighborhoods? During a weekend stroll, do you admire the vintage homes – their plaster columns, arched windows, or hand crafted front doors? If so, you have been led to the world of historic homes. Over the course of 40 years our team has represented buyers and sellers of 150+ historic landmark properties which is more than any agent in San Diego. If you are a buyer, our expertise guides you in the evaluation of an older home. We have an excellent team of specialists who evaluate foundations, furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, tile roofs, and hardwood floors – all the components of an older home. If you are a seller, no one has represented the historic homes of San Diego more effectively and with greater appreciation than the Hernholm Group.

Historic home enthusiasts find that the neighborhood ambience, the classic lines of a Craftsman front porch and other architectural details simply resonate in their souls. Those who have this connection to house history and decide to purchase older homes see themselves as guardians of an architectural era and generally make every effort to appreciate, restore, renovate and preserve a chapter in history that is written with bricks and mortar.

San Diego County offers the historic home experience to residents in many of its communities. The most prolific historic neighborhoods are found close to Presidio Park. This is where San Diego’s history began roughly 180 years ago when retired soldiers and settlers built homes in Presidio Park at the foot of the oldest mission in California, Mission San Diego. Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, Point Loma, Kensington, North Park (Burlingame), South Park, and Golden Hill all offer a wide variety of architectural gems. La Jolla and Del Mar also provide historic home opportunities on a more infrequent basis, as does Rancho Santa Fe.

Spanish Colonial, Tudor Revival, Prairie Style, Craftsman Bungalow, Victorian, Art Deco — the historic home experience embraces many architectural styles. The addition of mid-Century modern architecture to the mix of historic gems brings additional possibilities to aficionados of another era of home design in America. Early San Diego architects such as Richard Requa, Irving Gill, William Sterling Hebbard, Cliff May, Emmor Brooke Weaver, Edgar Ulrich and William Templeton Johnson have made an everlasting impression on our city. The George Marston House (now maintained by SOHO) in Balboa Park is the most famous project of Hebbard and Gill. Thomas Shepherd focused his efforts primarily in La Jolla. Another generation of architects graced the San Diego scene and includes such names as Henry Hester, Lloyd Ruocco, Homer Delawie, Russell Forester, Frank Hope, Richard Neutra, and John Lloyd Wright.

There are many local experts who can assist in determining whether or not your home might be eligible for historic landmark status. An application must be submitted to the City of San Diego’s Historical Resource Board. To assist in the ongoing maintenance and renovation that older homes require, homeowners who have achieved the historic landmark status for their property apply for property tax relief through the Mills Act. This reduction in property taxes is designed to assist the homeowner in budgeting for the more costly repairs that an older home might require, such as a foundation repair or a fireplace restoration. Mills Act examples:


  1. The Hernholm Group sold a Mission Hills home on Hermosa Way in August 2022 for $4,250,000. The current property tax rate for the City of San Diego is 1.1%, so annual taxes for this property would typically equate to about $47,000. However, Hermosa Way is a historic landmark property with Mills Act designation, so annual property taxes are $7,000 – which equates to $40,000 in annual savings.
  2. In June 2021 the Hernholm Group represented the seller of E. Talmadge Street in Kensington. Built in 1932, it is a Cliff May design and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. With a sales price of $1,975,000 and a tax rate of 1.1%, annual property taxes would be roughly $22,000. With its Mills Act designation in place as the Lindstrom House, the annual taxes are a much reduced $6,080 – a $16,000 annual savings.

When your home attains historic designation, you have joined a select group of homeowners. Owners of historic homes frequently participate in home tours and invite the public to see fine examples of period architecture. Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) as well as local community groups, schedule tours clustered around specific neighborhoods, a defined architectural style or a well-known San Diego architect, such as Irving Gill or Richard Requa. You will meet passionate homeowners who want to share their homes’ histories and educate the public regarding the rich architectural heritage that becomes yours when you are privileged to call a historic landmark “home.”