Julian Community Hertiage Foundation To Beautify Empty Lot
Last updated 6/18/2019 at 2:38pm
For those that have driven through Julian or spent any time on Main Street, they are definitely familiar with the empty corner lot. This now empty corner was once teeming with life and brought a lot of character to the little historic town. There is a non-profit group in Julian dedicated to restoring the lot into a space the community and visitors can enjoy.
The corner of Washington and Main Streets wasn't always an empty lot full of overgrown weeds and surrounded with a brown picket fence.
In the early 1900s, the location was home to the Silvers' Store, an establishment that provided a variety of goods for the residents of Julian. After being open for a while, owners of the store added a couple of gas pumps to their business. Eventually Chevron purchased the lot and it became one of five gas stations in Julian.
Unfortunately, in 1977 a leak occurred at the Chevron station as a result of a product line failure. Even more unfortunate for Julian residents was that in 1989, more benzene was released into the water supply. This leak was more catastrophic due to the extensive quantities of benzene involved and the number of town wells that were affected. As a result, Chevron was held responsible for providing the town with bottled water, removing their tanks and regularly testing the water quality.
For 29 years, the lot was declared a brownfield and the multinational energy corporation was liable for ensuring the safety of the soil and groundwater. In 2018, the San Diego County cleared the site for development.
In 2017, the Julian Community Heritage Foundation (JCHF) formed and dreamed of developing the corner lot into a community space. Their vision is to create a town square featuring an amphitheater, stage and benches.
A central location for community groups to showcase a variety of talents, a new location for Julian's Christmas tree lighting ceremony and more.
JCHF envisions the space to be appreciated by residents and visitors as a calming, beautiful park-like setting rich with history and natural surroundings. The group has met with San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, the Julian Planning Group, the Julian Historical Society and the Julian Architectural Review Board for their input and guidance in planning the project.
The first step JCHF needs to accomplish is purchasing the lot from the current owner. JCHF is a small group of volunteers who share a passion for Julian, and are working hard to make this dream a reality. The group operates solely on donations and have been able to receive some large donations from Supervisor Jacob and the Julian Lodge. The Julian community has also been instrumental in helping to bring the park to life by making pledges on the group's website (juliantownsquare.com).
JCHF recently launched their own GoFundMe page and will be holding several fundraisers to reach their goal of $600,000. The group is hoping to raise the funds they need to acquire the lot as soon as possible. With a variety of donation tiers available, the group is hoping to spark interest in the community and others who love Julian.
Members of JCHF are confident that their hard work will pay off, and by 2022, the empty corner lot will be replaced with a beautiful town square.
Be sure to visit the Julian Community Heritage Foundation website at juliantownsquare.com to learn more about the project and to make a donation. Their progress can also be followed on Instagram (@julianchf) or Facebook (@juliantownsquare).