Improvement Plans and Historic Reports
The Isaac Lyon Building and the Isaac Lyon Rental Property are wood framed, Victorian-era buildings from the 1880s. They are good examples of an increasingly rare collection of early building stock in downtown San Diego representing the "Boom of the Eighties" that was spurred by intensely competitive railroad connections between Southern California and the East Coast of America. As such, they typify vernacular building traditions in San Diego conducted by both individuals and speculators, mostly combining pattern book designs with common building materials and easily understood construction techniques.
Both buildings use simple footprints that maximize square footage and minimize complicated carpentry. The fancy work, most likely standardized elements that were locally milled, is relegated to the street facades, where it is concentrated at the cornices and around window and door openings. Despite the modifications, such as the conversion of the first floor of Lyon bulding from commercial to residential purposes, and loss and/or deterioration of historic fabric, such as the chimney, roof, rear porch and front steps of the Lyon Rental located at 360 15th Street, both buildings continue to possess a majority of their character defining features. On the Lyon Building, these include: the rectangular, two story massing with chamfered corner entrance; the shiplap siding with corner boards; the bracketed parapet; the upper register tall rectangular sash windows with flat trim, bracketed cornices and protruding sills; the transomed paneled side door along J Street; and the belt course between the first and second floors. Although the first floor commercial fašade has been slip covered, and the original entry doors are no longer extant, these represent a small portion of the exterior and can be reconstructed from photographic evidence. At the Lyon Rental, the character defining features include the one-story, asymmetrical footprint; the angled frontal bay with tall, rectangular tripled sash windows; the covered side entry porch; the hipped and gabled roofline; and the dentil, panel, colonette and bracket trim.
As a comparative analysis, the Lyon Rental is one of 23 pre-1900 Victorian residences included in the East Village Combined Surveys 2005, while the Lyon BUiding is one of five pre-1900 commercial properties included in the survey. If if the Lyon Building is considered a multi-family property (based upon its use) rather than a commercial property (based upon its original design) then it is one of eight pre-1920 multi-family buildings included in the East Village Combined Surveys 2005.
The buildings were in common ownership from their date of construction. According to chain of title, Isaac Lyon acquired the property from Matthew Therman on July 17, 1883. Therman transferred the title to E.C. Jacobs and R.B. Wiseman on August 21, 1886. If the Residential Building Record is accurate, it appears that Issac Lyon was the first owner of 1479 J Street and Matthew Therman is likely to be the first owner of 360 15th street.