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