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LGBTQ Historic Sites Project

Photo courtesy of Gregory May - Click on image for a larger viewI want to share with you the exciting LGBTQ Historic Sites project Lambda Archives of San Diego is undertaking with San Diego's respected historic preservation organization, Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO). Under the leadership of Architect Chuck Kaminski, RA, Lambda Archives will work with historic preservation professionals and LGBT community members to identify and prepare professional nominations to protect LGBTQ historic resources. Our first identified resource is the former home of Bernie Michels, an early activist and organizer of the San Diego LGBT community. Bernie was one of the planners of and first Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Center.

We are very excited about both the project itself and the collaboration with our preservation allies at SOHO. We believe this is a project well worth doing to protect San Diego LGBT historic assets. While we wouldn't literally collect these resources, we certainly would further our mission to preserve and educate the public about important aspects of LGBT history. 

This project is modeled on the National Park Service Heritage Sites Initiative and may eventually qualify for Federal funding. However, we are collectively looking for "seed money" of about $2000 for the first professional nomination. The Bernie Michels home is threatened with demolition as it stands in a project area. We are working with SOHO, the developer, and professional preservationists. An experienced historic researcher has offered to waive half her normal fee to prepare the nomination report. LASD and SOHO will cobble that savings together with donations from the SOHO Board, the Imperial Court, and other donors. 

That will cover the first identified site, the Bernie Michels site. Then, we estimate we will need another $10,000-12,000 to do a full-scale identification and "context" report. We would hire a professional consultant to organize public meetings to identify historic sites and do historic research to fully describe the resources and prepare the resource descriptions. The resulting document will be provided to planning authorities to help protect sites from demolition or alteration. Further, it will provide context for possible projects like interpretive centers and even a future tour of LGBT historic sites.

To learn more, please see our Facebook page at Save-the-Historic-LGBTQ-House-on-El-Cajon-Boulevard and Like us on Facebook at

To support this work, please contact SOHO at


Maureen Steiner
President, Board of Trustees
Office:  619 260 1522

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