San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14F: Congress Hall Site

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (San Diego Historical Landmark #14) are many historic buildings and rebuilds. We’ll explore nine of them since they also have been designated San Diego Historical Landmarks.

The sixth landmark, San Diego Historical Landmark #14F, is the Congress Hall Site.

Congress Hall was a one-story frame building built by, quoting the San Diego History Center, “George De Witt, Clinton, Washington, Robertson.” Note the punctuation. What does that mean? Are Clinton, Washington, and Robertson people? Why don’t they have first names if they are people? I believe they are names because the San Diego History Center tells us that “Robertson ran a saloon, billiard parlor and gambling house.”

A conflicting article, also at the San Diego History Center, states that Congress Hall “was a two-story board-and-batten hotel, erected in 1867 by George Dewitt Clinton Washington Robinson.”

I’m so confused.

Originally Congress Hall was located on the north side of the plaza (conflicting source says “northeast side”) in what is now Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Vincent Llucia bought the building around 1870 and had it moved to the northwest corner of the plaza. In 1884 the post office was located in the building, possibly because Vincent Llucia and his son, Vincent P. D. Llucia, both were postmasters.

One of the building’s claim to fame is that it served as a Pony Express office. One of the last Pony Express rode north from Congress Hall.

At various times, Congress Hall was also a wild west saloon, a gambling hall, a rooming house, a post office, and a bakery. A balcony over the porch provided a vantage point for bands and public speakers on occasion.

Congress Hall was destroyed in 1939.

I could find no free pictures on the Internet but the San Diego History Center has some that one can purchase, the cost of which is beyond my lowly blog…. Here are a couple of links to pictures:

Congress Hall remains, ca. 1930—Obviously a one-story building

Congress Hall, no date but obviously a two-story building

Currently, the Congress Hall site is occupied by the Barra Barra Saloon in Fiesta de Reyes.

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fiesta de Reyes comprises 19 locally owned specialty shops, three restaurants and, a 10-room boutique hotel.

Barra Barra Saloon is a period saloon representing the merging of Mexico with American traditions after the Mexican-American War. Barra Barra bills itself as an “Old World Mexican dining experience with traditional Mexican fare made from recipes that span generations.”

Barra Barra’s furniture and décor includes authentic Mexican artifacts as well as reproduction collectibles, providing the ambiance of a ranch home in Old Mexico. Along with the saloon there are two indoor dining rooms and a large patio dining area with two fire pits.

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the San Diego Historical Landmarks series, go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta

A collection of Photographic Art stamps made from pictures taken this past week.

If there is no plant name on the stamp, that means I ain’t gotta clue what the plant name is.

Iceland poppy

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Kangaroo paw

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Unknown flower

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Unknown flower

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Unknown flower

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Unknown flower

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Iceland poppy

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Pelargoniuim

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Aloe

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Unknown flower

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Lady slipper orchid

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Downtown San Diego at night

Out & About

One hundred years ago San Diego, a city of about 40,000 people, hosted the Panama California Exposition to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal.

The first stop on the voyage through the Canal and up the west coast of the United States would be San Diego.

The Exposition began on January 1, 1915, and lasted until January 1, 1917.

To help celebrate the centennial, San Diego is beautifying the city, as if it weren’t already beautiful….

Many of the highway medians near downtown are getting new landscaping. Potholes are being filled but apparently to me only on streets near downtown and Balboa Park, and new lighting is showing up on many of the buildings in downtown San Diego.

Recently I went downtown after the sun set in the west to get some time exposure pictures of the new lighting that has shown up these past six months.

This first picture is of the San Diego County Administration Center where Jim and I got married on October 30, 2008.

San Diego County Administration Center stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both the north and south sides of the Administration Center used to be ugly parking lots. Those lots are now underground two wonderful water features and a playground for the children. I was down there around 8:30 p.m., and the playground was full of children and parents having late night fun. This pictures is of the water feature on the north side:

Downtown San Diego at night

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The south side is were the children’s playground is, so it’s more popular than the north side. Here’s the south side water feature with Wyndham’s new lighting; the blue adds nicely to the downtown visual experience:

Downtown San Diego at night

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lastly, here are two skyscrapers with new red and green neon lighting stripes. Quite nice:

Downtown San Diego at night

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you’re flying into San Diego for business or pleasure, try to get a window seat on the left side of the plane. Day or night the view is spectacular. Note that occasionally the fierce Santa Ana winds force the planes to come in off the ocean to land. If that happens to you, both sides of the plane offer great views—SeaWorld, Mexico, downtown San Diego, beaches. That might happen about ten days a year, so your best bet is to get that left side window seat.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The Sea Lion Dance

Out & About

Photographic Art stamps based on pictures of the wildlife at La Jolla Cove this past Monday.

Seagulls at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wading bird at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pelican at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pelican at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cormorants at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

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La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sea lion at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I love the little girl dancing for the sea lions in the last picture. I’ll call it the Sea Lion Dance.

I’ll end with another sunset picture from Monday’s trip to La Jolla:

Sunset at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla is a great place to visit at any time. The tide pools and beaches are more accessible during low tides, and the there seem to be more wildlife, probably due to the sea creatures stranded in the tide pools.

You can find tide schedules here: La Jolla tides.

The best place to see the tide pools is at Rocky Point, shown on the map below.

Parking throughout La Jolla, especially during Tourist Season (Memorial Day to Labor Day), is scarce so be prepared to drive around for a while looking for a parking spot or park the first place you see a spot and walk to Scripps Park. A walk through downtown La Jolla is a great experience all on its own!rocky point la jolla map

Go to Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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La Jolla tide pools looking like something from another planet

Out & About

I taught chess at Birdrock Elementary in La Jolla yesterda. Class ended at 4:10, and I got all my chess sets put away and got back to the car at 4:30.

Instead of sitting in rush hour traffic for 1½ hours to get home, I decided to go to La Jolla Cove for 1½ hours.

I took 214 pictures—sunset, pelicans, cormorants, seagulls, squirrels, seals and sea lions, tide pools, and the gorgeous views.

Here are five pictures of the tide pools, looking like something from another planet:

Sandstone cliff at the beach in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tide pools at the beach in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tide pools at the beach in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tide pools at the beach in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tide pools at the beach in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And one of my favorite pictures from last night’s sunset at the La Jolla Cove:

Sunset at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California on March 23, 2015

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La Jolla is a great place to visit at any time but the tide pools and beaches are more accessible during low tides.

You can find tide schedules here: La Jolla tides.

The best place to see the tide pools is at Rocky Point, shown on the map below.

Parking throughout La Jolla, especially during Tourist Season (Memorial Day to Labor Day), is scarce so be prepared to drive around for a while looking for a parking spot or park the first place you see a spot and walk to Scripps Park. A walk through downtown La Jolla is a great experience all on its own!rocky point la jolla map

Go to Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (3-23-15)—Let there be magic

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Julian Rey SaenzThe one and only Julian Rey Saenz (y’all remember him, right? picture ►) says that he doesn’t like hippies.

That’s a pretty broad brush stroke there and certainly seems to summarily dismiss a whole group of people. I don’t even do that with Republicans and the fanatically religious!

About the only groups of people that I summarily dismiss are murderers, rapists, those who abuse women and children, and those who abuse animals.

Peace symbol in Ocean Beach stampIf one summarily dislikes hippies, one probably would never visit the San Diego neighborhood of Ocean Beach. It’s an enclave of mostly hippies who seem to be stuck enjoying the life that was the ’60s.

Ocean Beach is a great place to watch the waves crash ashore, and every time I’m out there, I drive the neighborhoods looking for the unique and interesting to bring to you, my readers.

When I was out there the first week of March, I found the Magic Bus, last seen in July 1968.

The Magic Bus in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Magic Bus” was a hit for The Who in 1968, peaking at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

That caused me to wonder about other songs with magic in the title. I found quite a few so I decided to limit songs here to those about a magic something, like that magic bus.

Following is what I found. If you think of any that I didn’t, leave the name in a comment. It would be really cool if you left a link to a YouTube video with your comment, too!

“Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf. A 1968 hit that peaked at #3.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul & Mary. A 1963 hit that peaked at #2.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Black Magic Woman” by Santana. A 1970 hit that peaked at #4. I always wonder if this song is about a woman who does black magic, or about a magic woman who is black….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Magic Man” by Heart. A 1976 hit that peaked at #9.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#11: Villa Montezuma (addendum)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

I’m going to backtrack here to add an addendum to my post about San Diego Historical Landmarks #11, Villa Montezuma.

Here is the original post in case you missed it: Villa Montezuma.

Villa Montezuma in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Jeff Smith, a long time writer with the San Diego Reader, has an excellent column in this week’s issue in his “Unforgettable: Long-Ago San Diego” column titled “An evening at Villa Montezuma.”

Well worth the read, especially if you love history and music.

“Between 1887 and 1889, Jesse Shepard gave musicales at his Villa Montezuma. He had an international reputation as a singer/pianist. Others called him a charlatan. To bring instant culture to the pioneer town, San Diegans built Shepard a gaudy Victorian mansion at 205h and K Street. Here he performed and, some said, conducted musical séances. What follows is an imagined evening at the villa—Tuesday, February 14, 1888—based on eyewitness accounts….” Read the complete article.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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