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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#9: The Davis-Horton House (part 3)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For previous posts on the Davis-Horton House, see
The Davis-Horton House, part 2
The Davis-Horton House.

Location of Heath-Davis House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Davis-Horton House is a three-story structure with a basement, and the main entrance actually is in the basement.

Entrans to Gaslamp Museum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Two things in that picture are unusual for San Diego, and they both begin with B: Basement and bricks.

On the brick wall to the right of the entrance was a beautiful mailbox.

Historic mailbox

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

The basement is mostly the museum store and administrative areas. There was some pretty cool stuff on the walls, most of it concerning the historic Gaslamp Quarter (remember that the Davis-Horton House is the Gaslamp Museum). This warning sign ca. 1913 was my favorite:

Warning

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Stingaree District existed mainly between the 1880s, when San Diego was booming, to a “cleanup” in 1912-1916. However, it remained a vice district until downtown redevelopment in the 1980s.

Vice districts existed throughout the West in response to the view by politicians and police that gambling, drug and alcohol addiction, and prostitution were vices that simply could not be eradicated. Thus, restricted districts were created in many cities where such vices could be practiced openly as long as they were within the district and that no greater crimes were committed. Illegal payments from the vice trades to police and politicians were common. Possibly the most famous of all vice districts was the Barbary Coast in San Francisco.

The exact boundaries of the Stingaree District are unknown, but the Health Department in 1912 identified the District as being bounded by First, Fifth, Market, and K Streets. The map below shows the current Gaslamp Quarter boundaries (red), the Stingaree District boundaries identified in 1912 (yellow), and the location of the Davis-Horton House/Gaslamp Museum (red arrow).

Stingaree and Gaslamp Quarter locations in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I thought it interesting that, on the warning sign, only one anarchist was in the Stingaree District, and I really felt sorry for “loiters,” although I’m pretty sure they are the same as loiterers. Nonetheless, jail for 90 days for being a vagrant or loitering.

Ah, but what about “hop heads” and “those possessing hootch”?

Google and Wikipedia tell me that hopheads are people who like highly hopped beer, which I deduced to mean either “highly flavored” or “high in alcohol content.” Two other definitions, though, include an alcoholic whose choice of drink is beer, and an early 1900s American slang term for a user of opium. Since sources would not be specific, I’m going to presume that in this context it means drunks.

Hootch (more commonly now, “hooch”) is an alcoholic beverage produced by distillation. Distillation purifies an alcoholic beverage by removing diluting components, so the alcoholic content is much higher than beer, wine, or cider. The best definition I found was any alcoholic beverage that has been distilled and has an “alcohol by volume” content of at least 20%. So, whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, tequila…. In other words, every time I go to On The Border for a margarita, I’m possessing a little hooch………..

When the Davis-Horton House was renovated in the early 1970s in preparation for it becoming the Gaslamp Museum, an alcove behind a cutaway wall in the study revealed a working whiskey still, a replica of which is in the museum:

Replica of a whiskey still in the Davis-Horton House, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Because research on the Davis-Horton House led me astray to the Stingaree District, my next post in the San Diego Historical Landmark series will be a tour of the inside of the House/Museum, originally slated to be this post. The Museum is fascinating.

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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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#9: The Davis-Horton House (part 2)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

I made it to the Gaslamp Museum this morning for a tour of the interior of the Davis-Horton House (see The Davis-Horton House).

There is a small park next to the Museum, and you have to go through the park to get to the Museum. The park opened about 30 minutes earlier than the Museum.

I walked around the park and found some fascinating information about “The Brother Dogs Project” a “tail” of two cities and two dogs—Greyfriars Bobby, the official dog of Edinburgh, Scotland, and San Diego’s Official Town Dog, Bum.

The Brother Dogs Project, San Diego California

The Brother Dogs Project, San Diego California

The Brother Dogs Project, San Diego California

Location of Heath-Davis House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier which became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until his own death on January 14, 1872.

Interestingly, Greyfriars Bobby has a Wikipedia entry: Greyfriars Bobby.

Greyfriars Bobby of Edinburgh, Scotland

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sadly, Bum does not have a Wikipedia entry, so I have to rely on the plaque in the park:

BUM
San Diego’s Official Town Dog
Died November 10, 1898 – Aged 12 years
Loved by everyone – owned by no one. His name suited him
because he arrived as a stowaway, befriended everyone and
“bummed” quality food from the local eateries. As a young
dog he survived a scuffle with another dog on the Santa Fe
train tracks. Though he lost a foreleg and part of his tail,
his spirit was unbroken. He guarded the children, led the
parades and fire trucks, and had many adventures.
So admired was Bum that the City Council awarded him
a lifetime dog license. When he died, children collected
pennies for a proper funeral.

Bum, San Diego's Official Town Dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice that on the statue, Bum’s right foreleg is missing.

And look what I found making their home in the park:

Feral Cat in downtown San Diego, 402 Island Avenue

Feral Cat in downtown San Diego, 402 Island Avenue

I’m pretty sure those are not dogs.

And can you believe that the one stuck out its tongue at me?

I declare.

I wonder what Bum and Greyfriars Bobby would think about two cats making a home in their park….

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

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#9: The Davis-Horton House

San Diego Historical Landmarks

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.

Davis-Horton House in the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego

Location of Heath-Davis House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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.

Gaslamp Museum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Heath-David House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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:

Heath-Davis House

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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:

Haunted Davis-Horton house

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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.

Heath-Davis House

Davis-Horton house

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

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?