Three buildings in the Gaslamp: then and now.

I came across historical photographs of three buildings in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter that were taken in 1960. These photos, resulting from the Historic American Buildings Survey, were taken by an employee of the U.S. National Park Service, and are consequently in the public domain.

I thought it would fascinating to post a “then and now” blog, comparing the 1960 photographs of these buildings with how they appear at the beginning of 2023. That’s a span of almost 63 years. By looking carefully, you can notice changes that were made.

The first building is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street. It’s called the Backesto Building. When built in 1873, it stood at the center of New Town’s original business district.

According to a historical plaque, the grocer and general merchandise firm Klauber and Levi occupied the ground floor from 1878 to 1886. San Diego Hardware would occupy the building from 1892 to 1922. Its exterior reflects the turn-of-the-century style.

The Backesto Building, photographed in 1960.

The Backesto Building, photographed in 2023.

The second building is also at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street. It’s called the McGurck Block and was built in 1887.

The Ferris and Ferris Drug Store occupied this building from 1903 to 1984. I once blogged how the father of actor Gregory Peck worked there as the night druggist.

The building was also a post office and ticket booth for the Coronado Ferry. The upper floors of the three-story Italianate building were known as the Hotel Monroe in 1929.

The McGurck Block, photographed in 1960.

The McGurck Block, photographed in 2023.

Finally, there’s the adjacent I.O.O.F. Building at Market Street and Sixth Avenue.

I.O.O.F. stands for Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The 1882 building was a joint effort of the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges.

The Classical Revival building took almost a decade to complete. The cornerstone contains valuable coins, historic documents, and a stone from Soloman’s Temple!

I.O.O.F. Building, photographed in 1960.

I.O.O.F. Building, photographed in 2023.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark and swing on by occasionally!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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