Category Archives: History

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14I: Exchange Hotel 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 ninth historical landmark within Old Town is the Exchange Hotel Site. Also known as “Tebbett’s Place” in the early 1850’s, its location was not known until 1951. The life story of the proprietor, George Parrish Tebbets, is well known but the building where he conducted his business is pretty much unknown since there are no photographs, drawings, or complete descriptions of the hotel.

Several sources indicate that the Exchange Hotel was located at 2729 San Diego Avenue. Other sources say 2731 San Diego Avenue. Here is a picture of 2731 and 2733 San Diego Avenue:

Old Town San Diego first San Diego Courthouse

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both buildings are rebuilds as they were destroyed in the great Old Town Fire of 1872. A lot is known about the two-story building, the Colorado House. The one-story building is the first San Diego courthouse. Based on my own research, I’m pretty sure that the first San Diego courthouse was not at that location but I couldn’t find where it actually had been built.

So we’re still looking for the Exchange Hotel….

In 1851, the Masons scheduled a meeting at the Exchange Hotel to draw up a petition to form a masonic lodge in San Diego. The petition was granted on August 1, 1851, and the lodge became San Diego Lodge No. 35. The date is noteworthy because in 1951, in celebration of the centennial of Southern California’s oldest Masonic Lodge, people went looking for the Exchange Hotel site in order to place a marker there.

No luck with the records of San Diego Lodge No. 35 as they contain no description of the Exchange Hotel and no mention of its location.

A June 28, 1852, article in the San Diego Herald was uncovered which seems to indicate that the Exchange Hotel was at least a two-story structure next to the Colorado House, itself known to be a two-story structure:

“The procession after marching through the principal streets, halted under the gallery of the Exchange and the Colorado house, to listen to the oration by J. Judson Ames, R.A. & K.T. which occupied about a half hour. Of its merits it isn’t of course, proper to speak.”

A November 3, 1855, San Diego Herald article reveals a little more:

“On the Plaza and its vicinity are several operations just completed or in progress, one of the most important of which is the raising and enlargement of the Exchange estate by Messers Franklin, who intend to devote it to their large and increasing business. The lower story is to be of brick, fronted by a handsome veranda which will be carried up three stories, the height of the building.”

Franklin HouseThe first three-story building, and for many years the only three-story building, in San Diego was the Franklin House. At one time it was owned by Joseph Mannasse, a member of the San Diego Lodge. Many of the Lodge’s early banquets and special events were held in the Franklin House.

Further research in 1951 indicates that the Franklin House was built where the Exchange Hotel once stood. I’m wondering if the Franklin House actually was the Exchange Hotel after “the raising and enlargement of the Exchange estate.”

Also in 1951, James Forward and George Elder of Union Title Insurance Company found a property transfer dated July 19, 1855:

“Conveys situate in the Town of San Diego. Having a front on the Plaza or public square of 35 feet more or less, and in depth 50 varas (measure) and known upon the plaza of said town, as part of Lot 2 in Block 30, upon which the building known as the ‘Exchange’ has been erected.”

That pretty much defined the location as 2731 San Diego Avenue.

Permission of the owners was obtained to place a bronze plaque at the site and, although that apparently was done on June 16, 1951, I could not find a plaque at the site when I was there this morning. Next time I am there I will search with a more critical eye.

The foundation of the Franklin House was uncovered in 1981 during renovation of Old Town. Sadly, though, once it was uncovered and documented, they poured sand on it and recovered it with concrete walkways and asphalt streets. I guess no one would want to look at a crumbled foundation of a destroyed house when they can reconstruct other buildings on top of it so people can buy trinkets, souvenirs, food, and, of course, margaritas!

Location of Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkOld Town 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

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Music on Mondays (8-17-15)—Good thing the City of Chicago didn’t sue!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Generally I’m not a fan of cover versions of songs, tending to prefer the original group and the original song. I should define “original song” as “the version that I first heard” because lots of the first Beatles songs in the ’60s were cover songs of earlier songs from the ’50s.

What do I do when the original group re-records the original song to “update” it? Such as this one:

“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago, 1970

“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago, 1986

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The original version spent 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in Summer 1970, peaking at #4.

The 1986 version was also released as a single, spending 8 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in September & October, and peaking at #48.

Chicago apparently really liked the 1986 version because in addition to releasing it as a single, they made it a B side, too. TWICE! Meaning that it was released three times!

It appeared as the B side to the “Will You Still Love Me?” single released in November 1986, and then again as the B side to the “What Kind Of Man Would I Be?” single released—ready for this?—in December 1989! Three years later!

I like both versions but I am partial to the 1970 original.

Chicago was formed in 1970 in Chicago, Illinois, as Chicago Transit Authority. Unfortunately, the original Chicago Transit Authority sued, forcing them to shorten their name to just Chicago. Good thing the city of Chicago didn’t sue!

Chicago has released 23 studio albums, 3 live albums, 10 compilation albums, and 63 singles. Their most recent album, “Chicago XXXVI: Now,” was released on July 4, 2014. I have all of their music in my collection, and their latest is another fine collection of classic Chicago.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Not done since 1935

Out & About

When people come to San Diego, they naturally gravitate to Balboa Park. With 1,200 acres, it is said by those more knowledgeable than me to be the largest city-owned cultural park in the United States.

Within Balboa Park are the two most photographed buildings in San Diego, the Botanical Building and the California Tower.

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both buildings are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, having been built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

One used to be able to go to the viewing decks at the top of the tower, but they have been closed to the public since 1935….

….until January 1, 2015, which is when the first deck of the California Tower was again opened to the public. And it is pretty awesome up there!

Nowhere else can you get as close to the dome of the San Diego Museum of Man:

img_0507 california tower balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You can see the Plaza and El Prado promenade, as well as the Cuyamaca Mountains to the east. The peak at the upper left is Mt. Helix, just a few blocks from where I live, and the biggest peak in the upper right is Mount San Miguel, 2,567 feet tall.

IMG_0504 plaza balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Right below the California Tower is the Old Globe Theatre, a replica of Shakespeare’s Old Globe in England.

img_0506 old globe theater balboa park san diego balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You’ll see a panorama of downtown San Diego that is available nowhere else on the ground. Click on the picture for a monster version.

img_0500-0502 san diego downtown panorama california tower balboa park low res

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Most importantly if you have children, they can wave at the planes as they fly into San Diego International Airport:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tours last 40 minutes, including 10-15 minutes on the viewing deck.

Children under the age of 6 are not allowed to go up.

Arrive at the Museum at least 15 minutes before your tour starts because tours will not wait for you and you will not be allowed to join a tour in progress. Critically, if you miss your tour, your ticket will not be refunded or exchanged.

Wear flat-soled shoes that cover your whole foot. You will not be allowed on a tour if you have open-toed shoes, flip flops, sandals, etc.

There are free lockers where you can store personal items while on a tour. No bags of any kind whatsoever—including fanny packs, purses, camera bags, and backpacks—are permitted on the tour. I think the purpose is to prevent people from dropping things over the edge, either accidentally or intentionally. Huge cameras and video equipment also is not allowed; make a reservation for a private tour if you are a professional videographer or photographer with lots of equipment.

It’s best to order tickets and make reservations online because all of Southern California wants to go to the top of the Tower. Only 4,761 of us (a number I completely fabricated) have done it so far.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14H: Mason Street School

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 eighth landmark within Old Town is the Mason Street School:.

Mason Street schoohouse

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mason Street School markerA marker outside the museum (picture►) says that it was named “Mason Screen School, District No. 1) and was built in 1865.

Not only was it the first public school in San Diego, but in all of San Diego County as well, which, in 1865, was twice as large as it is today. No two boards were the same width or length, so presumably they tore down various abandoned structures and salvaged the lumber to build the schoolhouse.

School was in session 12 months of the year and school hours
were from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendance averaged 35 students of age 4 to 17. All eight grades were taught in one room. Since very few families owned clocks, school tardiness was the rule rather than the exception.

Heat was supplied by an iron stove and indoor plumbing was a water bucket with a dipper. Outdoor toilets were provided with a new moon crescent cut into the door to signify girls and a round hole (sun) indicating boys.

Mary Chase Walker (1828-1899) was the first teacher, earning a monthly salary of $65. After just eleven months she quit teaching. Maybe she had too many juvenile delinquents like one Russel Ray and just couldn’t handle them all….

….or maybe she married Ephraim Morse, who was president of the school board at the time.

(Reminds my of my mom’s dad. While married to his first wife, he had an affair with one of his students, got divorced, married her, and proceeded to have five more children.)

mary chase walkerMary Chase Walker (picture►) was born in Methuen, Massachusetts, and began her teaching career in Groton, New Hampshire, when she was only 15 years old.

On April 1, 1865, she took a steamship from New York to San Francisco, costing $375 for a 4-week voyage. Although there were no teaching jobs
in San Francisco she was told that
San Diego needed a teacher for its new school. She arrived in San Diego on
July 5, 1865, to what was, she says,

“a most desolate looking landscape. The hills were brown and barren; not a tree or green thing was to be seen. Of all the dilapidated, miserable looking places I had ever seen, this was the worst. The buildings were nearly all of adobe, one story in height, with no chimneys. Some of the roofs were covered with tile and some with earth.

“The first night of my stay at the hotel, a donkey came
under my window and saluted me with an unearthly bray.
The fleas were plentiful and hungry. Mosquitoes were also
in attendance.”

About the school she said:

“My school was composed mostly of Spanish and half-breed children, with a few English and several Americans. I aimed to teach which was most meaningful to them; namely reading, spelling, arithmetic, and how to write letters. At recess the Spanish girls smoked cigaritas and the boys amused themselves by lassoing pigs, hens, etc. The Spanish children were very irregular in their attendance at school on account of so many fiestas and amusements of various kinds. For a week before a bull fight the boys were more or less absent, watching preparations, such as fencing up the streets leading to the plaza.”

Her story gets even more interesting, though, when she invited a black woman to lunch at the Franklin House. Some diners stormed out while others stared with contempt. Many parents removed their children from the school, and enrollment plunged from
36 students to 15.

After she left teaching, she supported the suffragette movement and worked to help the most needy. She died in San Diego on
May 17, 1899.

The Mason Street School Museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m.
to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.

Various resources say that they have adult education class in California history, and fourth grade tours. Inquiring minds want to know why just fourth grade?

Old Town 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

Need a unique gift? Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage? Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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Sadly, she sits on dry land

Picture of the Moment

Imagine living in an area that has been a navy stronghold for a century.

Imagine living in an area that has one of the world’s largest maritime museums.

Imagine living in an area where big boats are built, big boats like cruise ships, battleships, aircraft carriers.

Imagine living in an area where the first ship visited the current west coast of the United States back in 1542.

You’re in San Diego!

Now imagine that maritime museum (Maritime Museum of San Diego) building a full-size replica of that first ship, the San Salvador. Looks like this:

San Salvador

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now imagine a sixteenth century ship being built in the 21st century with 21st century technology that is unable to move the ship from drydock to the water.

You’re still in San Diego!

The San Salvador was supposed to be launched on April 19, 2015. Just a couple of days earlier one of the engineers determined that the ship was about 20 tons heavier than predicted.

Sadly, the San Salvador still it sits on dry land at the build site.

Activity dedicated to getting it into the water increased significantly the past two days. San Diego can build aircraft carriers but doesn’t have any cranes that can handle this weight. The closest crane is in Los Angeles, and apparently the folks up there want too much money to come help.

Sadly, the San Salvador continues to sit on dry land.

Tugboat bargeThis morning’s activity, which began at 5:00 a.m., was dedicated to getting the San Salvador onto a tugboat barge (picture ►), off to Chula Vista for leak testing, and then into the water within the next few days.

Sadly, the San Salvador continues to sit on dry land.

The deck of the tugboat barge sits higher than drydock, so there must be a low tide of a certain height in order to get the San Salvador onto the barge. Today at 7:00 a.m. was one of those low tides, with a window up to about 10:00 a.m.

I arrived at 4:30 this morning. At 10:19 a.m. with two words, “Not today,” they informed the crowd that the San Salvador wasn’t moving today. That was it.

Sadly, the San Salvador still sits in drydock….

The next appropriate low tide is two weeks away, sadly.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (7-13-15)—Music, real estate, California, and a cat…. obviously a great guy!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

In the past I would sometimes buy an album or CD for just one song. That was back in the days when we had to do that. Now if we just like one song, we just buy that one song! Ah, digital music….

Billy Idol’s 1990 album “Charmed Life” is one such album. I bought it for “Cradle of Love” and pretty much dismissed the rest of the album….

….until I equalized the album yesterday. That’s when I discovered “Endless Sleep.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I knew the song from somewhere; Wikipedia helped me out.

The original song was written and sung by Jody Reynolds (1932-2008) in 1958. Yes, I did have it in my music collection.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Endless Sleep” peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1958.

Jody Reynolds was born in Denver, raised in Shady Grove, Oklahoma, and eventually settled in Palm Springs, California, working in real estate for Fred Sands Realty in La Quinta. He also had a cat named Bandit. Music, real estate, California, and cats…. Obviously a great guy!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (7-6-15)—It’s a small world

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

As I was listening to 1988 music this weekend, a song reminded me that I did an inspection in 2007 for someone whose name was familiar.

At the end of the inspection I said, “I went to high school with a guy named __________ but that was in Kingsville, Texas.”

He looked shocked, and after catching his breath, said, “I went to King High. I knew a Russel but his last name was Kirk.”

“Well, in 2004 I dropped my last name Kirk and took my middle name as my last name. So you’re looking at the former Russel Kirk, now Russel Ray.”

We talked about what brought him to San Diego (the Navy in the late ’70s) and why I changed my name (estrangement from the Kirk relatives).

Here is the song that reminded me of that event:

“Small World” by Huey Lewis & The News

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with my situation, but I had never really listened to the words. I just remember my wise old grandmother always telling me that “it’s a small world” in the context of meeting someone from your past in a faraway place.

The words do have a lot to do with what currently is going on in the world, even right here in the United States with health care, gay marriage, the Confederate flag, this whole group of Republican nuts running for President, etc.

Lyrics

All around the world
There are people like you and me
From the poorest beggar in the street
To the richest king and queen

Some people take
And then they never give
You gotta learn to give and take
If you wanna learn to live
In a small world
Small, small world

Now we can
Fight one another
Like they to on T.V.
Or we can
Help one another
The way it’s supposed to be

If we all give a little
It could really mean a lot
It’s a small world
But it’s the only one we’ve got
Small world
Small, small world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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