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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14I: Exchange Hotel Site

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin 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 ninth historical landmark within Old Town is the Exchange Hotel Site. Also known as “Tebbett’s Place” in the early 1850’s, its location was not known until 1951. The life story of the proprietor, George Parrish Tebbets, is well known but the building where he conducted his business is pretty much unknown since there are no photographs, drawings, or complete descriptions of the hotel.

Several sources indicate that the Exchange Hotel was located at 2729 San Diego Avenue. Other sources say 2731 San Diego Avenue. Here is a picture of 2731 and 2733 San Diego Avenue:

Old Town San Diego first San Diego Courthouse

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both buildings are rebuilds as they were destroyed in the great Old Town Fire of 1872. A lot is known about the two-story building, the Colorado House. The one-story building is the first San Diego courthouse. Based on my own research, I’m pretty sure that the first San Diego courthouse was not at that location but I couldn’t find where it actually had been built.

So we’re still looking for the Exchange Hotel….

In 1851, the Masons scheduled a meeting at the Exchange Hotel to draw up a petition to form a masonic lodge in San Diego. The petition was granted on August 1, 1851, and the lodge became San Diego Lodge No. 35. The date is noteworthy because in 1951, in celebration of the centennial of Southern California’s oldest Masonic Lodge, people went looking for the Exchange Hotel site in order to place a marker there.

No luck with the records of San Diego Lodge No. 35 as they contain no description of the Exchange Hotel and no mention of its location.

A June 28, 1852, article in the San Diego Herald was uncovered which seems to indicate that the Exchange Hotel was at least a two-story structure next to the Colorado House, itself known to be a two-story structure:

“The procession after marching through the principal streets, halted under the gallery of the Exchange and the Colorado house, to listen to the oration by J. Judson Ames, R.A. & K.T. which occupied about a half hour. Of its merits it isn’t of course, proper to speak.”

A November 3, 1855, San Diego Herald article reveals a little more:

“On the Plaza and its vicinity are several operations just completed or in progress, one of the most important of which is the raising and enlargement of the Exchange estate by Messers Franklin, who intend to devote it to their large and increasing business. The lower story is to be of brick, fronted by a handsome veranda which will be carried up three stories, the height of the building.”

Franklin HouseThe first three-story building, and for many years the only three-story building, in San Diego was the Franklin House. At one time it was owned by Joseph Mannasse, a member of the San Diego Lodge. Many of the Lodge’s early banquets and special events were held in the Franklin House.

Further research in 1951 indicates that the Franklin House was built where the Exchange Hotel once stood. I’m wondering if the Franklin House actually was the Exchange Hotel after “the raising and enlargement of the Exchange estate.”

Also in 1951, James Forward and George Elder of Union Title Insurance Company found a property transfer dated July 19, 1855:

“Conveys situate in the Town of San Diego. Having a front on the Plaza or public square of 35 feet more or less, and in depth 50 varas (measure) and known upon the plaza of said town, as part of Lot 2 in Block 30, upon which the building known as the ‘Exchange’ has been erected.”

That pretty much defined the location as 2731 San Diego Avenue.

Permission of the owners was obtained to place a bronze plaque at the site and, although that apparently was done on June 16, 1951, I could not find a plaque at the site when I was there this morning. Next time I am there I will search with a more critical eye.

The foundation of the Franklin House was uncovered in 1981 during renovation of Old Town. Sadly, though, once it was uncovered and documented, they poured sand on it and recovered it with concrete walkways and asphalt streets. I guess no one would want to look at a crumbled foundation of a destroyed house when they can reconstruct other buildings on top of it so people can buy trinkets, souvenirs, food, and, of course, margaritas!

Location of Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkOld Town San Diego

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—#14H: Mason Street School

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin 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 eighth landmark within Old Town is the Mason Street School:.

Mason Street schoohouse

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mason Street School markerA marker outside the museum (picture►) says that it was named “Mason Screen School, District No. 1) and was built in 1865.

Not only was it the first public school in San Diego, but in all of San Diego County as well, which, in 1865, was twice as large as it is today. No two boards were the same width or length, so presumably they tore down various abandoned structures and salvaged the lumber to build the schoolhouse.

School was in session 12 months of the year and school hours
were from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendance averaged 35 students of age 4 to 17. All eight grades were taught in one room. Since very few families owned clocks, school tardiness was the rule rather than the exception.

Heat was supplied by an iron stove and indoor plumbing was a water bucket with a dipper. Outdoor toilets were provided with a new moon crescent cut into the door to signify girls and a round hole (sun) indicating boys.

Mary Chase Walker (1828-1899) was the first teacher, earning a monthly salary of $65. After just eleven months she quit teaching. Maybe she had too many juvenile delinquents like one Russel Ray and just couldn’t handle them all….

….or maybe she married Ephraim Morse, who was president of the school board at the time.

(Reminds my of my mom’s dad. While married to his first wife, he had an affair with one of his students, got divorced, married her, and proceeded to have five more children.)

mary chase walkerMary Chase Walker (picture►) was born in Methuen, Massachusetts, and began her teaching career in Groton, New Hampshire, when she was only 15 years old.

On April 1, 1865, she took a steamship from New York to San Francisco, costing $375 for a 4-week voyage. Although there were no teaching jobs
in San Francisco she was told that
San Diego needed a teacher for its new school. She arrived in San Diego on
July 5, 1865, to what was, she says,

“a most desolate looking landscape. The hills were brown and barren; not a tree or green thing was to be seen. Of all the dilapidated, miserable looking places I had ever seen, this was the worst. The buildings were nearly all of adobe, one story in height, with no chimneys. Some of the roofs were covered with tile and some with earth.

“The first night of my stay at the hotel, a donkey came
under my window and saluted me with an unearthly bray.
The fleas were plentiful and hungry. Mosquitoes were also
in attendance.”

About the school she said:

“My school was composed mostly of Spanish and half-breed children, with a few English and several Americans. I aimed to teach which was most meaningful to them; namely reading, spelling, arithmetic, and how to write letters. At recess the Spanish girls smoked cigaritas and the boys amused themselves by lassoing pigs, hens, etc. The Spanish children were very irregular in their attendance at school on account of so many fiestas and amusements of various kinds. For a week before a bull fight the boys were more or less absent, watching preparations, such as fencing up the streets leading to the plaza.”

Her story gets even more interesting, though, when she invited a black woman to lunch at the Franklin House. Some diners stormed out while others stared with contempt. Many parents removed their children from the school, and enrollment plunged from
36 students to 15.

After she left teaching, she supported the suffragette movement and worked to help the most needy. She died in San Diego on
May 17, 1899.

The Mason Street School Museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m.
to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.

Various resources say that they have adult education class in California history, and fourth grade tours. Inquiring minds want to know why just fourth grade?

Old Town San Diego

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

Need a unique gift? Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage? Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#11: Villa Montezuma (addendum)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

I’m going to backtrack here to add an addendum to my post about San Diego Historical Landmarks #11, Villa Montezuma.

Here is the original post in case you missed it: Villa Montezuma.

Villa Montezuma in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Jeff Smith, a long time writer with the San Diego Reader, has an excellent column in this week’s issue in his “Unforgettable: Long-Ago San Diego” column titled “An evening at Villa Montezuma.”

Well worth the read, especially if you love history and music.

“Between 1887 and 1889, Jesse Shepard gave musicales at his Villa Montezuma. He had an international reputation as a singer/pianist. Others called him a charlatan. To bring instant culture to the pioneer town, San Diegans built Shepard a gaudy Victorian mansion at 205h and K Street. Here he performed and, some said, conducted musical séances. What follows is an imagined evening at the villa—Tuesday, February 14, 1888—based on eyewitness accounts….” Read the complete article.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14E: Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin 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).

Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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.

Machado Memorial Chapel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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.

Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera)

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

Need a unique gift? Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage? Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14C: Casa de Bandini

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin 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 third one, San Diego Historical Landmark #14C, Casa de Bandini, was one of San Diego’s great Mexican restaurants when I came to San Diego in April 1993. It had been for about thirty years, but that all came to a crashing end around 2006 when the State of California did not renew the lease of the restaurant, now located about 30 miles north of San Diego, in Carlsbad. I have not been to it because I don’t frequent Carlsbad often enough or long enough to eat at a fine dining establishment. I do remember that they had the biggest margaritas in the world, the 32-oz “Bird Bath” margarita. Sadly, I lost all of my pre-2006 pictures in The Great Hard Drive Crash of August 2005.

Here is the Cosmopolitan Hotel in June 2012:

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And here it is a century ago, ca. 1913:

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In addition to being a historic structure, Casa de Bandini also has to be explored in terms of the Bandini family itself. First, let’s explore the history of Casa de Bandini.

Juan BandiniDon Juan Bandini (1800-1859; picture ►) built Casa de Bandini from 1827 to 1829, originally a one-story structure with a thatched roof (probably palm fronds!), seven rooms, an entrance way, enclosed courtyard, corral, and several sheds. The house included Spanish Colonial features usually found only in the California missions. Enhancements to the home were done in the 1840s, including pane-glass windows, a brick-lined patio with well, and a small bathhouse to encourage his daughters to visit more frequently.

Financial losses forced Bandini to sell his house in 1859, and he died in November 1859. Part of the building was converted at that time into a store.

In 1869, Albert Seeley, a stage master, acquired the building and converted it into a Greek Revival hotel, the Cosmopolitan. The first story was renovated, and a wood framed second story and balconies were added.

Albert Seeley sold the Cosmopolitan in 1888, and in the years that followed, it was used first as a rooming house and then converted for use as an olive packing factory.

Cosmopolitan HotelIn 1928, Cave J. Couts Jr., Don Juan Bandini’s grandson, bought the property and restored it as a memorial to his mother, Ysidora Bandini de Couts. Couts remodeled the residence in Steamboat Revival architecture style, and by 1930 it had been wired for electricity and plumbed gas. Couts renamed the building The Miramar Hotel and Restaurant.

James and Nora Cardwell bought the Bandini property in 1945. Their son, Frank, renovated the building in the 1950s into an upscale tourist motel. The Cardwells sold the property to the State of California in 1968, the same year Old Town became a state historic park.

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now let’s look at Don Juan Bandini and who he was. He was born into a revolutionary Italian family dating back to at least 1478 when an ancestor assassinated the brother of Lorenzo Medici, the ruler of Florence.

Juan had been born in 1800 in San Marcos de Arica, Peru. Juan’s father, a native of Spain and a lieutenant on the Spanish ship “Nymphia” at the Battle of Trafalgar, found his way in 1818 to Monterey, then the capital of Mexican California, to defend the city against pirates.

In 1831, Juan denounced his allegiance to Victoria, the Mexican governor of California, his pronunciamiento stating:

“Let the rights of the citizens be born anew; let liberty spring up from the ashes of oppression, and perish the despotism that has suffocated our security.”

With that, Bandini and fourteen other San Diegans seized the Presidio of San Diego and arrested the Mexican authorities. Governor Victoria tried to end the uprising (the “Revolt of 1831”), but when Victoria’s army and the Bandini-led rebels met near the Cahuenga Pass on December 6, 1831, Victoria was wounded and his forces defeated. Following the battle, Victoria resigned as governor and, on January 17, 1832, sailed back to Mexico.

Mission San Diego de AlcalaJuan Bandini was a significant influence behind the secularization of the California missions, eventually earning the title “Destroyer of the California Missions.”

Juan Bandini supported the Americans during the Mexican-American War. His three daughters are credited with making the first American flag that was raised in the Old Town Plaza on July 29, 1846.

Following the war, Juan entered the business world, but all he did there was bring his family to the brink of bankruptcy with his wild and crazy ventures. The fact that he and his wife were early socialites, often spending as much as $1,000 on galas and fiestas, didn’t help. Bandini is credited with introducing the waltz to California in 1820.

Juan and his first wife, Dolores, had two sons, Alejandro Felix, who died at the age of 14, and Jose Maria, and three daughters, Josefa, Arcadia, and Isidora. When Josefa married Pedro Carrillo, the Mexican governor, Pio Pico, gave the new bride the Peninsula de San Diego Rancho, which included Coronado and North Island, as his personal wedding present.

Pedro and Josefa had one son, Juan José, who had two sons, Leo and Jack, who became quite famous in modern America. One source says that Jack became a world famous engineer, the builder of Idlewild Airport in New York City, now known as JFK International Airport. However, I could find no other corroborating sources.

Leo CarrilloLeo Carrillo (1881-1961; picture ►) was a film star from 1929 to 1950. In 1950, he took the television role of Pancho in “The Cisco Kid,” arguably the role that made him most famous.

Right here in San Diego County is the Leo Carrillo Ranch, a fascinating place to visit and where I saw my first white peacock!

For more on the Leo Carrillo Ranch, see my post here: Where are the colors, mommy?

White peacock at Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch in Carlsbad, California

White peacock at Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch in Carlsbad, California

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

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14A: Casa de Estudillo

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin 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 first one is San Diego Historical Landmark #14A, Casa de Estudillo:

Casa de Estudillo Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Casa de Estudillo is a large adobe-block house, one of the best remaining examples of a Mexican California mansion. Located at 4000 Mason Street within the boundaries of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, it is a U-shaped, one-story house built around a large courtyard. It originally contained 13 rooms in three sections, with the center section measuring 116’9″ long, and the two wings measuring 96½’ (north wing) and 98½’ (south wing).

Casa de Estudillo Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The adobe walls, plastered and whitewashed inside and out, average three feet in thickness. A one-story veranda extends around the three inner sides of the house, with all rooms in the house opening directly onto the veranda. The large rectangular windows originally contained no glass, yet there were no fireplaces in the house. Might have something to do with pretty good weather year round. Two fireplaces were added in the north wing but the date of the additions is not known.

Various sources say that Casa de Estudillo was built in 1827 (Wikipedia), 1828 (City of San Diego Historical Landmarks list), or 1829 (sign located outside the house). However, Casa de Estudillo also is a registered California Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. I found several documents online at the National Park Service concerning Casa de Estudillo, one of which, from 1979, states that the house was built from 1827 to 1829. Now the dates make more sense.

In the original construction, the main entrance was a wide hallway with heavy double doors. To the left were the chapel and a bedroom, and to the right the schoolroom and a bedroom. In the 1910 restoration, the partition walls separating the two bedrooms from the adjacent rooms were removed, thus enlarging the chapel and school room. Casa de Estudillo Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkThe north wing contains two bedrooms, a living room, a later kitchen, and the servants’ dining room. The south wing has three bedrooms and the large family dining room. The house was also once topped by a small round wooden cupola from which the family and guests could watch the bullfights and festivals staged on the adjacent town plaza. The cupola was removed sometime after Ramona was published and not restored until a 1968 renovation.

Casa de Estudillo was built by Don Jose Antonio Estudillo, a captain in the presidial garrison. He later served as mayor and justice of the peace of San Diego, and by 1829, he had acquired three ranches and become a wealthy man. Casa de Estudillo was considered at the time to be one of the finest in Mexican California. A large hall in the house served from the early 1830s until 1856 as the town chapel and as a school. In times of revolution and war, the women and children of San Diego also took refuge behind the thick walls of the house.

Occupied by the Estudillo family until 1887, it was abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin. Don Jose raised his children in the home, and three generations of Estudillos lived there. Jose Guadalupe Estudillo was elected to a number of high positions, including state treasurer, while living there.

img_8812 casa de estudillo stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In 1905, Casa de Estudillo was bought by John D. Spreckles, a significant figure in San Diego, who financed its 1910 restoration under the supervision of Architect Hazel Waterman.

According to a credible source, in 1908, it was deeded to the State of California by Mr. Legler Benbough, then the owner, and another restoration begun under the supervision of Architect Clyde Trudell. The restoration work was finished in 1969. The house was furnished in time for San Diego’s Bicentennial celebration.

Note: I believe the 1908 date is wrong because it doesn’t make sense that Spreckles bought the house in 1905 and financed a 1910 restoration, while another source says that a different person, Benbough, was the owner in 1908 and deeded the house to the State, and that a restoration was begun in 1908 (or shortly thereafter) but not completed until 1969. I know that there were two restorations, one in 1910 and one in 1969, so believing that the 1908 renovation included the 1910 renovation and wasn’t complete until 1969 appears to be wrong.

What I found most interesting about Casa de Estudillo is its connection to the book Ramona, written by Helen Hunt Jackson and published in 1884. Casa de Estudillo was where Ramona, the Indian heroine of the novel, got married!

Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson

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

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#13: Montgomery Memorial Park

San Diego Historical Landmarks

I set out to explore San Diego’s historical landmarks back during the Great Recession. Exploring became my staycations. It wasn’t until I moved my blog to WordPress in January 2012 that I decided that these historical landmarks would make a nice blog series. Long-time readers know how much I love blog series—they bring structure to my life: Music on Mondays, Friday Flower Fiesta….

I had always skipped San Diego Historical Landmark #13 because I perceived it to be in a bad part of time, often defined as “old” and “historic.” Those are exactly the places I wanted to visit, though!

Number 13 is the Montgomery Memorial Park, designated a historical landmark on November 6, 1970. The park currently is known as Montgomery-Waller Community Park.

Montgomery-Waller Community Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to the San Diego History Center: “At Otay Mesa, in August 1883, John Joseph Montgomery made the first heavier-than-air craft flight. He was assisted by his brother, Jim, who related the story this way…

I towed John into the air in his little glider at the end of a 40 foot rope. He flew over my head and landed beautifully about six hundred feet down the hill…

This was 20 years before the Wright Brothers had their successful flights.

Montgomery-Waller Community Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

John Joseph Montgomery (1858–1911) was an American aviation pioneer, inventor, physicist, and professor. He was born in Yuba City, California, earned a Bachelor of Science in 1879 and a Master of Science in 1880 from Saint Ignatius College, forerunner of the University of San Francisco, and taught at Santa Clara College in Santa Clara, California.

A subheading to this blog post might be “San Diego: First In Flight.” And you thought it was the Wright Brothers in North Carolina. Ha! Actually, in addition to Montgomery, there were many people who flew before the Wright Brothers’ flight: Sir George Cayley of Britan, Jean-Marie Le Bris of France, Otto Lilenthal of Prussia, Percy Pilcher of Britain, and Octave Chanute of the United States.

Montgomery-Waller Community Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Wright Brothers’ flights in 1903 are recognized as “the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.” Montgomery’s flight in August 1883 was the “first controlled flight of a heavier-than-air craft in the Western Hemisphere.” In other words, other pioneers had unpowered flights or their flights were not sustained or controlled, or they were in different parts of the world…. Semantics are wonderful…..

Montgomery’s contributions to the science of flight still are not fully recognized, but such scientific greats as Alexander Graham Bell gave him the accolade he deserves: “All subsequent attempts in aviation must begin with the Montgomery machine.”

Montgomery-Waller Community Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There are two California Historical Landmarks honoring Montgomery, one of them being Montgomery Memorial at Otay Mesa in San Diego:

Montgomery Memorial in San Diego

Montgomery Memorial in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Montgomery Memorial features a fixed airplane wing on the hilltop in Otay Mesa that is visible from miles around. The wing actually is a test wing panel for the Consolidated B-32 Dominator, an aircraft built here in San Diego by Consolidated Aircraft for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. First flight for the B-32 was September 7, 1942. It had a short production run of only 118 planes used by the Army Air Forces between January 27 and August 30, 1945.

Interstate 5 in San Diego, from downtown to the Mexican border is named the John J. Montgomery Freeway.

Montgomery Freeway

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There are five California schools that have been named in Montgomery’s honor, four of them here in San Diego:

John J. Montgomery Elementary School, Chula Vista
Montgomery Middle School, San Diego Unified School District
Montgomery Middle School and Montgomery High School in the Sweetwater Union High School District

Additionally, there is the John J. Montgomery Memorial Cadet Squadron 36 of the Civil Air Patrol, Montgomery Chapter 338 of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and San Diego’s Montgomery Field (MYF), one of the busiest airports for small planes in the United States. The entrance to Montgomery Field is on John J. Montgomery Drive.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

John J. Montgomery was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1964 and U.S. Soaring Hall of Fame in 2002. His 1883 glider was recognized in 1996 as an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Montgomery-Waller Community Park has four baseball fields, four basketball courts, two sandbox playgrounds, and many paved walking trails throughout the rolling hills. The recreation center, shown in the first picture below, has some weird hours in my view: 1:00 PM to 7:45 PM on Monday through Thursday, 1:00 PM to 6:45 PM on Friday, 10:00 AM to 3:45 PM on Saturday, and 11:00 AM to 3:45 PM on Sunday. What’s with this closing at :45 stuff?

Montgomery-Waller Community Park

Montgomery-Waller Community Park

Montgomery-Waller Community Park

Montgomery-Waller Community ParkPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lastly, a movie was made in 1946 titled “Gallant Journey” and starring Glenn Ford, Janet Blair, and Charles Ruggles, and directed by William Wellman, all names that probably are familiar to movie buffs. Here’s a clip from the movie:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Previous research on San Diego’s historical landmarks revealed that “memorial parks” are parks that used to be cemeteries but were abandoned. I could not find anything about any cemetery that might have been here at one time.

Next, I have to find out who Waller is and why he gets to be part of the Montgomery-Waller Community Park. All I know at this point is that Waller is Luckie Agee Waller (1939-1963). I know that because it says so on a plaque at the bottom of a flag pole:

Montgomery-Waller Community 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

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post