There are so many historic buildings in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park that I thought we might never leave the Park!
Now that we’re finished there, we can start exploring historic buildings elsewhere, and we’ll start by walking two blocks south of Old Town, to 3965 Conde Street, to visit the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.
Looks like this:
Not to be confused with the Church of the Immaculate Conception, which looks like this:
I mention the Church because it is quite a magnificent structure as opposed to the Chapel, and the Church stands at the entrance to Old Town State Historic Park. Thus, if you’re leaving Old Town to walk to the Chapel, and you see the Church of the Immaculate Conception, you will want to think that it is the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. It’s not. Church……. Chapel……. Different.
The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Old Adobe Church, was built in 1850 according to most sources. One source, though, says that resident pastor Father John C. Holbein laid the cornerstone for the Old Adobe Church in 1851. Cornerstones were laid quite early in the construction of buildings, so I’m tempted to go with 1851 as the earliest the building could have been built. However, typographical and clerical errors do occur, so maybe I’ll just go with “ca. 1850.”
Other problems arise when researching this historical landmark. There is not much information online; the most information I found is on markers outside the entrance. The largest marker (►) says that the Old Adobe Chapel originally was built in 1850 as the home of John Brown. It wasn’t until 1858 that Don José Antonio Aguirre, a wealthy and devoutly religious merchant, converted it to a church, which makes one question why Father John Holbein would be laying the cornerstone in 1850 for a simple house. Nonetheless….
Don Aguirre bought the land and what was then a 2-story adobe house in February 1858 for a whopping $350. The second story was removed, leaving just a small section for a choir loft; the wooden floor was kept; and religious furnishings were brought from the old San Diego Mission and installed.
Before the church could be consecrated, vandals damaged the altar. Several months afterwards, candlesticks, wax images, and the crucifix were damaged by a drunk who was found passed out on the altar.
The Old Adobe Church was consecrated on November 22, 1858, and dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin by Padre Juan Molinier, resident priest at the time. Padre Molinier entered into church records that he had blessed the new church before a large number of people of different religions, and that it had been given by the most Christian Don José Antonio Aguirre for the greater glory of God and for the good of the faithful of San Diego. Continuing, Padre Molinier wrote that after Don Antonio’s death, his body would rest within the church.
According to sources, the dedication was followed by supper in La Casa de Aguirre, at which time both sentiment and wine flowed freely…. I’ll just leave it there….
Father Antonio D. Ubach was the parish priest at the Old Adobe Chapel from 1866 to 1907. It is said (by whom, I don’t know) that he was the model for Father Gaspara in the novel “Ramona” by Helen Hunt Jackson.
The Old Adobe Chapel was rebuilt by the United States Works Progress Administration in 1937 during the Great Depression. Thus, it is not an original structure from 1850. Not only that, but it wasn’t even rebuilt at its original site! Ah, well.
Directly across Conde Street from the Old Adobe Chapel are several outdoor display windows about Old Town. One of the windows has additional information about the Old Adobe Chapel which I included in this post.
There also is a small model of the Chapel:
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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