Within 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 fifth one, San Diego Historical Landmark #14E, is Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera).
This house was built by Corporal José Manuel Machado for his daughter, Maria Antonia, and her husband, Manuel de Silvas. Sources say it was built as early as 1832 and as late as 1843. Sources also disagree on names, some saying it was Maria Antonio and José Antonio Nacasio Silvas.
Machado was a “Leather Jacket” soldier of the Spanish army and was stationed at the San Diego Presidio in 1782. Leather jacket soldiers got their name from the long, sleeveless coat made of up to seven layers of white, tanned deerskin. Carried on his left arm was a two-ply cowhide and wood shield. Protecting his legs while traveling through thick chaparral was a leather apron that fastened to the pommel of the horse’s saddle and hung down over his legs. The leather apron evolved into the chaps of the American cowboy. The leather jacket soldier was well known for his skill in using lanzas—long, steel-tipped, wooden lances—in close combat.
The house became known as the “Casa de la Bandera,” or “House of the Flag,” when the lady (I could not find out who “the lady” was but I’m presuming she was Maria) hid in it the Mexican flag that had been cut away from the Plaza pole after the Americans had reoccupied San Diego in 1846 at the beginning of the Mexican-American War.
María Antonia renovated the house in 1854, turning it into the Commercial Restaurant, later renaming it Antonia Restaurant. At various times it also served as a saloon and a community church.
Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera) was listed as a California Historical Landmark in 1932 and a San Diego Historical Landmark in 1970. In 1975, when the Caifornia State Parks took over the property, it was renovated into a house museum.
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.
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