The following article first appeared in the Friday, November 13, 2020 edition of the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on page A1. The article is reprinted here with their permission.
OVN’s Van Houten honored for sharing city’s history
The Ojai Valley News’ very own senior reporter Perry Van Houten has been recognized with the city of Ojai Annual Historic Preservation Award for 2020.
Van Houten, along with Darwin McCredie, had his Historic Preservation Commission recommendation for the award ratified by the Ojai City Council on Nov. 10.
Van Houten was granted the award because he met the criteria for historical research, including oral history supporting historic preservation.
When asked what the award meant to him, Van Houten said: “It’s a real honor to receive this award from the city. My interest in Ojai history was sparked by Patricia Fry’s “The Ojai Valley: An Ilustrated History,’ and later, after I began exploring the valley, Fred Volz’s ‘Ojai Hikes.’ Credit for these historical articles really goes to the folks at the Ojai Valley Museum: the late David Mason, Dawn Thieding, Wendy Barker, Craig Walker, Elise DePuydt, Judy Mercer and Drew Mashburn. And, of course, many thanks to the Ojai Valley News for supporting my interest in the history of our valley.”
The resolution stated: “Perry Van Houten has long been involved in Ojai’s historical preservation. Back in the days of (Ojai historian) David Mason, Mr. Van Houten tirelessly interviewed David for articles appearing in the Ojai Valley Visitors Guide (such as Ojai’s historic gas stations) and could often be found in the Ojai Valley Museum Library poring over 100-year-old publications and historical images from the museum archives. Mr. Van Houten also moderated Ojai Valley Museum’s Town Talks making Ojai’s history come alive.”
Van Houten continues to document Ojai history to this day with his in-depth historical articles in the Ojai Valley News and the Ojai Magazine. His excellence in reporting was recognized by the California News Publishers Association when his oral history profile piece, “Sole Survivor,” received second place among all California weekly newspapers with 4,300 or fewer subscribers.
The resolution continued: “Following in OVN past-publisher Fred Volz’s footsteps, Mr. Van Houten has been particularly keen on preserving Ojai’s natural history. He has researched and documented unique and historical Ojai trees as well as local hiking trails. His OVN Hiking Trails column earned him the OVN Best of Ojai ‘Favorite Columnist’ in 2018. Mr. Van Houten also lends his hands and energies to United States Forest Trail Projects and Keep Sespe Wild Highway Cleanups and leads free hikes as a docent with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.”
The resolution concluded: “Mr. Van Houten’s historical research efforts culminate in the publication of articles that promote and preserve the City of Ojai’s unique historical and cultural heritage. His balanced and accurate reporting of the news of today creates the history of tomorrow.”
The city plans to award Van Houten with a plaque at a City Council meeting in January.
In addition to the Historic Preservation Award recipients, Don and Sheila Cluff, and Patricia Clark Doerner received the Historic Preservation Lifetime Achievement Award.
‘His balanced and accurate reporting of the news today creates the history of tomorrow.’
— Resolution honoring Van Houten