Category Archives: Halls of History

Picture of the Moment (12-21-14)

Picture of the Moment

I am working on my next post in my San Diego Historical Landmark series, a tour of the interior of the Davis-Horton House, also known as the Gaslamp Museum.

I think the following picture, created from three individual pictures, deserves a post of its own:

Historical toilet

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#9: The Davis-Horton House (part 2)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

I made it to the Gaslamp Museum this morning for a tour of the interior of the Davis-Horton House (see The Davis-Horton House).

There is a small park next to the Museum, and you have to go through the park to get to the Museum. The park opened about 30 minutes earlier than the Museum.

I walked around the park and found some fascinating information about “The Brother Dogs Project” a “tail” of two cities and two dogs—Greyfriars Bobby, the official dog of Edinburgh, Scotland, and San Diego’s Official Town Dog, Bum.

The Brother Dogs Project, San Diego California

The Brother Dogs Project, San Diego California

The Brother Dogs Project, San Diego California

Location of Heath-Davis House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier which became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until his own death on January 14, 1872.

Interestingly, Greyfriars Bobby has a Wikipedia entry: Greyfriars Bobby.

Greyfriars Bobby of Edinburgh, Scotland

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sadly, Bum does not have a Wikipedia entry, so I have to rely on the plaque in the park:

BUM
San Diego’s Official Town Dog
Died November 10, 1898 – Aged 12 years
Loved by everyone – owned by no one. His name suited him
because he arrived as a stowaway, befriended everyone and
“bummed” quality food from the local eateries. As a young
dog he survived a scuffle with another dog on the Santa Fe
train tracks. Though he lost a foreleg and part of his tail,
his spirit was unbroken. He guarded the children, led the
parades and fire trucks, and had many adventures.
So admired was Bum that the City Council awarded him
a lifetime dog license. When he died, children collected
pennies for a proper funeral.

Bum, San Diego's Official Town Dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice that on the statue, Bum’s right foreleg is missing.

And look what I found making their home in the park:

Feral Cat in downtown San Diego, 402 Island Avenue

Feral Cat in downtown San Diego, 402 Island Avenue

I’m pretty sure those are not dogs.

And can you believe that the one stuck out its tongue at me?

I declare.

I wonder what Bum and Greyfriars Bobby would think about two cats making a home in their 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

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#9: The Davis-Horton House

San Diego Historical Landmarks

The oldest building left in downtown San Diego, where “New Town” was started in the 1850s, is the Davis-Horton House at 402 Island Avenue.

Davis-Horton House in the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego

Location of Heath-Davis House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

William Heath Davis (1822-1909) arrived in San Diego around 1850 and thought that the waterfront would be a much better place for San Diego than its location at Old Town. I believe he was right.

Along with building a wharf 600 feet long at the foot of Market Street, he built the house currently situated at 402 Island Avenue (some sources say 410 Island Avenue). I went looking for it this past Monday. My luck, as usual; the museum is closed on Mondays.

Gaslamp Museum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If one does not know the address, one can easily miss the building.

Heath-David House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The gate also was locked, so one can’t even enjoy the little park before 10:00 a.m. Look what I did see enjoying the park:

Heath-Davis House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Do you see it sitting on the bench at the left? A little sweetie pie….

The house is a pre-framed lumber “saltbox” home, shipped from the East Coast to San Diego around Cape Horn, Africa. Davis never lived in the house since it was built to be used as military officer housing.

It took a lot of research to finally discover that this house was the first home of Alonzo E. Horton, founder of San Diego as we know it today, and the only house in which he lived that still stands. It also served for a time as one of the first “County Hospitals” in San Diego. Apparently this is not its original location, having been moved here in 1873 by John and Margaret Mountain. I could find no other information about John and Margaret Mountain.

The house apparently is haunted:

Haunted Davis-Horton house

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The ghost is an unknown Victorian woman. If she’s unknown, I wonder how they know she’s Victorian. Hmmm.

A 1977 newspaper article interviewed the residents of the house at that time, and they claimed that lightscame on and went off by themselves. What’s interesting is that the house was not wired for electricity until 1984, so those “lights” were gas and coal oil lamps which have to be lit with a match. Hmmm.

This sounds like my kind of place, so I’m going to start saving $45 so I can go meet the ghost on January 24, 2015. I’ll have to do without quite a few happy hour margaritas to save that much money!

I’ll also make it a point to visit the museum so I can get some pictures of the interior.

Heath-Davis House

Davis-Horton house

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

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#8: The Sherman-Gilbert House

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Even though San Diego was “discovered” in 1542 and “founded” in 1769, lacking in a historical perspective are old buildings.

Progress over the millennia sent buildings to the scrap heap of history in favor of new and improved.

The oldest buildings that remain are seven structures moved from their original locations to the Victorian Village (also called Heritage Row) in Heritage Park.

Heritage Park sign

Heritage Park location map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The seven structures include six homes and one temple, all built between 1887 and 1896.

Interestingly, the Heritage Park web site indicates that only two of the seven structures are San Diego Historical Landmarks. I know for certain that three of them are, and I won’t understand it if I discover that not all of them are registered historical landmarks. That would be weird to save a building, spend lots of money moving it, putting it in a place called “Heritage” Park, taking care of it, but not designating it as a historical landmark. Yep. That would be weird, weird, weird.

One that I know for certain is registered is San Diego Historical Landmark #8, the Sherman-Gilbert House, the first structure moved to Heritage Park in the Spring of 1971.

Sherman-Gilbert house in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The house was built in 1887 and first owned by John Sherman, a San Diego real estate developer and cousin of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Cousin John Sherman should not be confused with brother John Sherman, a significant politician and three-time presidential candidate.

The house is in the Stick Eastlake architectural style, sometimes referred to as Victorian Stick, a style that was popular in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Several characteristics of the Stick style include interpenetrating roof planes, bold paneled brick chimneys, wrap-around porch, spindle detailing, “panelled” on blank walls, and radiating spindle details at the gable peaks.

There are few survival examples of the Stick Eastlake style; the Sherman-Gilbert House is one of them.

Sherman-Gilbert house in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

From 1892 to 1965, the home was owned by sisters Bess and Gertrude Gilbert, significant San Diego patrons of art and music. While they owned the house, they brought internationally famous entertainers to receptions there, including Yehudi Menuhin, Artur Rubinstein, and Ernestine Schumann-Heink.

The house was marked for demolition in 1969. Concerned citizens formed the Save Our Heritage Organization and were granted a reprieve to raise funds and move the house from its original location at 139 Fir Street in Bankers Hill.

In the latter part of the twentieth century, moving historic structures in order to save them was commonplace. It’s now considered inappropriate to move them, which also means that sometimes historic structures are demolished rather than saved, usually in the name of progress such as highways, skyscrapers, and shopping malls.

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

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#7: Plaza de Pantoja y Arriaga site

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Plaza de Pantoja y Arriaga was built in 1851, being declared a San Diego Historical Landmark on January 23, 1969. It is a small urban park, Pantoja Park, in downtown San Diego, bounded by F Street, G Street, Columbia Street, and India Street.

Pantoja Park in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pantoja Park in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pantoja Park panorama

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My source books (real paper books sitting on shelves in my library!) about San Diego don’t have too much information about Pantoja Park.

One of my more obscure books, San Diego County Place Names A To Z by Leland Ferzer, says that the Plaza was created in 1850 (rather than 1851 as the San Diego Historical Landmarks document states) by William Heath Davis (see San Diego Historical Landmarks #6) et al. as the heart of New Town San Diego.

According to the book, the Plaza was named for Juan Pantoja y Arriola. Note that the San Diego Historical Landmarks document spells the last name “Arriaga.” Since my series of posts here are based on the San Diego Historical Landmarks document, I’m going to go with “Arriaga.”

Wikipedia tells me that Pantoja Park is the “oldest park in the City of San Diego,” while another source tells me it is the “oldest park in downtown San Diego.” I could not find out if the Plaza was created in 1850 as a park. Is “Plaza” just an 1850 name for “park”?

Pantoja was the second sailing master of the Spanish fleet who, in 1782, made the first good map of San Diego Bay, that map being published in 1802 in Madrid, Spain.

1782 map of San Diego Bay by Pantoja

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I could not find a picture of Juan Pantoja y Arriaga.

In the panorama picture above (click on it for a larger version), you can see a life-size statue.

Benito Juarez statue in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I was sure that would be Juan Pantoja y Arriaga. It’s not:

Benito Juarez plaque

BENITO JUAREZ
1806-1872
******
THIS STATUE
WAS GIVEN IN FRIENDSHIP
FROM THE PEOPLE OF MEXICO
TO THE PEOPLE OF SAN DIEGO
JUNE 18, 1981

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m going to make an educated guess here and say that the people of Mexico have no idea that they gave that statue to the people of San Diego, and that the people of San Diego have no idea that they were the recipients of that gift. Heck, I had no idea it was there, and I do a lot of reading about San Diego and its history….

Now my problem was to find out who Benito Juarez was and why there is a statue of him in Pantoja Park. He certainly lived at the right time. Fortunately, Wikipedia came to the rescue: Benito Juarez.

Benito Pablo Juárez Garcia (March 21, 1806-July, 8 1872) was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served as the President of Mexico for five terms: 1858–1861 as interim, then 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872. He resisted the French occupation of Mexico, overthrew the Second Mexican Empire, restored the Republic, and used liberal measures to modernize the country. [Uh-oh. He was a liberal….]

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

Need a unique gift for Fall graduates or Christmas?
Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.
Order today!
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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#6: New San Diego (Dunnell’s Hotel) Site

San Diego Historical Landmarks

The first European to visit San Diego was Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese-born explorer sailing under the flag of Spain and arriving in 1542. He claimed San Diego bay for the Spanish Empire and named it San Miguel.

In November 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno, also from the Spanish Empire, arrived on his flagship San Diego. He renamed the area after Catholic Saint Didacus, more commonly known as San Diego de Alcalá.

It wasn’t until May 1769 that San Diego became an area of major interest. First, in May, Gaspar de Portola established the Presidio of San Diego on what is now called Presidio Hill. It was the first settlement by Europeans in what is now the State of California. Then, in July, Father Junípero Serra founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá. San Diego history was born.

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkThe original town of San Diego was located at the foot of Presidio Hill, in the area which is now Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, California’s most visited state park. Old Town, however, was several miles away from navigable water, i.e. the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t until 1850, though, that someone decided to do something about that: William Heath Davis promoted a new development by the Bay shore called “New San Diego.” It was several miles south of the original settlement, so for several decades New San Diego consisted of just a few houses, a pier, and an Army depot.

According to one source, the one which I’m going to use, the first house was built at the northeast corner of State and F Streets. According to most sources, the first house in New San Diego was one sold to a Captain Knowles and moved to 227 Eleventh Street.

The source I prefer is Seventy-five Years In California, 1831-1906, by none other than William Heath Davis. Page 334: “The first building in New San Diego was put up by myself, as a private residence. The building is still standing, being known as the San Diego Hotel. I also put up a number of other buildings.”

The San Diego Hotel in 1867 was “an old building standing in New San Diego about State and F. It had been braced up to keep it from falling down, it belonged to a man named Wm. H. Davis, “Kanaka Davis.”

captain s s dunnellAlonzo Horton bought the building from Davis for $100 and renovated it. Horton states that after reconstructing the building, “A man named Dunnells (Capt. S. S. Dunnells, picture at right) came to me to ask about the chance of starting a hotel in San Diego … and I wanted to get a hotel started … so I sold it to him, with the lot, for $1,000.”

The San Diego Union of October 17, 1868, published an advertisement for the New San Diego Hotel, calling it a “splendid, new and first-class Hotel … with new furniture throughout…. It is a two-story frame building with a piazza extending partly around and it is one of San Diego’s Palatial structures.”

The hotel was a pre-fabricated house that had been shipped from New England around the Horn of Africa. It was demolished in September 1969, which doesn’t make sense to me because it was designated a San Diego Historical Landmark on January 23, 1969. How can you designate something as historical and then allow it to be destroyed eight months later? Sad, sad, sad. Here is an old picture, ca. 1900 I think, and a drawing of the hotel:

dunnell's hotel picture

dunnell's hotel

The location is listed as 348 West F Street, or the northwest corner of State Street and F Street:

Map

I went down to 348 West F Street to see what is there now. Here’s what I found:

Metropolitan Correctional Center, San Diego

That’s the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal administrative detention facility operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It was opened in December 1974, is 23 stories tall, and can hold 1,300 inmates, both male and female, of all security levels. Current population is about 1,000.

MCC San Diego, along with MCC New York and MCC Chicago, represented the Bureau of Prisons’ shift to high-rise prison buildings.

Imagine you’re in jail and you’re reading my blog post on one of the prison’s computers.

“Wow!” you say, “I’m living where downtown San Diego had its beginnings, the site of the very first building. Wow! Wow! Wow!”

Actually, let’s imagine that none of my readers are in prison….

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 This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Need a unique gift? Have Bare Wall Symdrome?
Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.
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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#5: Calvary Cemetery Site (follow-up)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the initial post on the Calvary Cemetery Site.

After I finished yesterday’s post about the Calvary Cemetery Site, I drove first to Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park looking for the gravestone of Father Antonio Ubach. He was the overseer of Calvary Cemetery in 1876 when it was created.

I had found a picture of the gravestone, taken in 1970, and it was a pretty big gravestone, possibly the biggest in the cemetery.

I figured if it was in good condition in 1970, it was probably somewhere around.

I just had to find it, and I did:

Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park

As soon as I saw it, I realized that I already had a picture, but I was facing into the morning sun and the top of the picture was blown out. So I cropped it and saved just the bottom part of the gravestone which I showed in yesterday’s post:

Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park

I started wondering about Father Antonio Ubach, so I went looking for information about him. I found it also, more from Google than from the indexes in my San Diego history books. He’s connected to a lot of San Diego history and historical landmarks, so we’ll be hearing more about Father Ubach in future posts.

From Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park, I drove to Mount Hope Cemetery, hoping to find the site where several hundred gravestones were dumped in 1970 when Calvary Cemetery was declared abandoned and turned into Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park.

Mount Hope Cemetery location

Mount Hope Cemetery opens at 8:00, so I had an hour to drive around the area. Along with Mount Hope Cemetery, there is Holy Cross Cemetery, Greenwood Cemetery, and Hope of Peace Cemetery. I guess this is the central cemetery district for San Diego. Back in the late nineteenth century when these cemeteries were created, this area was a pretty good distance from downtown San Diego. Now they are simply in an “older” neighborhood.

I drove around the outskirts of Mount Hope Cemetery, looking for that “isolated area” where the gravestones were dumped. Research led me to believe that there were a group of gravestones marking the site, but I found no grouping in any isolated areas.

When the cemetery opened, I stopped in the Raymond Chandler Business Office and met Paulette Crawford, one of the most helpful people I think I’ve ever met. I told her what I was trying to find and she knew exactly what I was looking for, called a staff member for verification, marked it on a cemetery map, and I was on my way. I was excited.

The location in an area that was not visible from a car, so I parked and went walking in the general direction where the site was supposed to be. I came upon this:

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

There in the center of the picture—the gravestone group that I was looking for. The only problem was that they are down there and I’m way up here on a cliff. I didn’t see a way down, so I kept walking along the cliff to get closer to them, thinking that there had to be a way down there.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Trolley came by a couple of times, and you know how I am about trains.

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

Paulette had told me that the gravestones were visible from the San Diego Trolley, which creeps through the area at about ten miles per hour, maybe less. I don’t know why…. out of respect for the dead or because it’s a long curve through a densely populated area.

Still looking for a way down….

Eventually the cliff ended, and around the edge of the cliff was a gentle slope down to the Trolley tracks. I was pretty sure it would lead me to where I wanted to go, and it did.

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

Remember, the gravestones that had been dumped there, up to 400 of them, were visible from the Trolley, and the Trolley goes through there very slowly. I can see the look of horror on Trolley rider faces as they realized that many of the gravestones had markings on them, meaning that they probably belonged to graves somewhere. “Have they no respect for the dead?”

The gravestones remained visible from 1970 to 1988, at which time they were buried and the gravestone grouping was created. As I read on several of the online sites I visited, no one bothered to get the names and other identifying information from the gravestones before they were buried. Sad, but posts like mine might keep them alive (pun intended) so that several hundred years from now, maybe alien archaeologists might stumble upon them.

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

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 This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Need a unique gift? Have Bare Wall Symdrome?
Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.
Christmas is just around the corner. Order today!
photograhic art taking pictures making art