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 seventh landmark, San Diego Historical Landmark #14G, is Casa de Machado y Stewart.
The museum was undergoing renovations when I was there, which means two things: (1) I don’t have any good pictures, and (2) I will get to go back!
Casa de Machado y Stewart was built around 1835 (some sources say as early as 1830) by José Manuel Machado, a retired soldier from the presidio. Its walls are sun-dried adobe bricks, and the home originally had just a bedroom and a living room.
Rosa, José’s youngest daughter, and her husband, Jack Stewart, a sailor and carpenter from Maine, moved into the home after getting married in 1845. During their residence there—it was their only home—they added rooms, lime washed the adobe walls, built a barrel clay tile roof, and added wood-paned windows and a rear piazza (columned porch) for outdoor gatherings. It should also be noted that they raised 11 children in the home.
The building was listed as a California Historic Landmark in 1932, but its historic integrity and appearance had been significantly changed by previous large-scale alterations. For example, in 1911, Frank “Pancho” Stewart, Machado’s grandson, completely remodeled the home. He built a new wooden porch, covered the exterior adobe walls with wood siding, and laid interior wood board ceilings and tongue-and-groove floors. He also added a fireplace at the building’s west end to go along with an outdoor oven. By the late 1930s, the building didn’t look anything like an adobe building:
The house was occupied by descendants of the Stewarts until 1966. The California Department of Parks and Recreation acquired the building in 1967 and hired Coneen Construction to repair and restore it to its original appearance circa 1835-1845.
The building underwent more significant repairs in 2011 and, since I was there in December 2014, we know that it was undergoing repairs then.
Casa de Machado y Stewart is one of five adobes in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Adobe buildings require regular maintenance so it’s not unusual for such a building to appear to be undergoing constant repairs. Inspections are critical especially after San Diego’s rainy season. In fact, Mrs. Carmen Meza, the last resident of the home, was forced to leave it due to severe damage sustained in the rains of 1966.
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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