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

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19 thoughts on “San Diego Historical Landmarks—#8: The Sherman-Gilbert House

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Old Town is still there but it’s just a shadow of what it was. When “they” decided to renovate it, they really messed up, even by their accounts now. I think California’s most visited state park though.

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  1. AZVHV.wordpress.com

    We have a trip to San Diego planned after the New Year and we’re using your blog as a travel guide. Thanks for all the truly fascinating posts!

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Let me know when you get here because I often have free or discounted tickets to the Zoo, SeaWorld, and Safari Park if you’re interested in any of those. I can usually find discounted tickets to lots of other stuff, too, so don’t be afraid to ask.

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  2. Boomdeeadda

    Saving buildings is expensive but so worth it. We surely don’t have as many in Edmonton but there’s a few nice area’s downtown. It’s one of the things we enjoy about the Island here. All the little old bungalows are so cute.

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      1. Boomdeeadda

        In our hood that’d be old LOL. Was really nice to meet you and Jim today. Thanks for coming to that area. My class was lots of fun and the shopping was too. What a good day I had! See you next time Russel !

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