Machado-Smith adobe, gardens coming to Old Town!

This area at one popular entrance to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, near the McCoy House Museum, is the site of a newly begun historical reconstruction.
An area beside a popular entrance to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, near the McCoy House Museum, will be the site of an historical reconstruction.

There are plans to bring more history to life in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park! A reconstruction of the Machado-Smith adobe and wood-framed house, including gardens and orchards, will greet future visitors to San Diego’s birthplace!

According to a sign that I read, after archaeological assessments (which appear to be underway right now), the Machado-Smith 1860s adobe casa and 1850s wood-framed house will be built near the main walkway that leads visitors from the Old Town Trolley Station into the California State Park. Also planned is a grapevine covered arbor and gardens and orchards with corn, grapes, figs, roses and fruit trees!

According to some research and a State Park employee that I spoke to, the house was built for American Albert Benjamin Smith and his Mexican wife María Guadalupe Yldefonsa Machado de Wilder who together raised nine children. The property remained with the family until 1929. Eventually the house fell into disrepair.

It is uncertain when the new construction will begin, but I’ll keep my eyes open!

Once completed, the Machado-Smith reconstruction will offer interpretive programs concerning Old Town San Diego’s unique mixture of Mexican Californio and American cultures! Very cool!

I was told by a California State Park employee that bits of pottery and other fascinating objects have been found at this site. It's believed a pottery or craft store was here at one time.
I was told by a California State Park employee that bits of pottery and other interesting objects have been found at this site.
An historically accurate reconstruction of the mid 1800's Machado-Smith property will soon be built in Old Town San Diego. Included will be an adobe casa, wood-framed house and gardens.
An historically accurate reconstruction of the mid 1800’s Machado-Smith property will be built in Old Town San Diego. Included will be an adobe casa, wood-framed house and gardens.

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Casa de Aguirre Museum in Old Town San Diego.

Fascinating exhibits inside the Casa de Aguirre Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Fascinating exhibits inside the Casa de Aguirre Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Many visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park might think the Casa de Aguirre is just a shop brimming with colorful crafts and wares. But a closer look reveals that a small museum is located inside.

Here are some photos which provide a glimpse of what you’ll discover should you step into the museum. Read the captions, and you’ll learn how Casa de Aguirre is one of the most important sites in Old Town, and how its occupants shaped San Diego’s early history.

Casa de Aguirre in Old Town was built around 1853. The adobe mansion was one of the first houses in San Diego, owned by Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, a prosperous merchant and rancher.
Casa de Aguirre in Old Town was originally built around 1853. The adobe mansion was one of the first houses in San Diego, owned by Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, a prosperous merchant and rancher. The present building is a reproduction.
Bronze bust of Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, near entrance to Casa de Aguirre. Born in Spain, he owned several ships and warehouses and imported goods from Peru and China to trade for cowhides and tallow.
Bronze bust of Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, near entrance to Casa de Aguirre. Born in Spain, he owned several ships and warehouses and imported goods from Peru and China to trade for cowhides and tallow.
Don Jose Antonio Aguirre was known for his charity and funded many projects in early San Diego. His wife and many children are considered to be one of the city's founding families.
Don Jose Antonio Aguirre was known for his charity and funded many projects in early San Diego. He, his wife and children are considered to be one of our city’s founding families.
Bust of Father Antonio Ubach, Last of the Padres, 1835-1907. Antonio Dominic Ubach ran St. Anthony's Indian School on this site from 1886 to 1891.
Bust of Father Antonio Ubach, Last of the Padres, 1835-1907. Antonio Dominic Ubach ran St. Anthony’s Indian School on this site from 1886 to 1891.
Plaque describes how Father Ubach advocated for California's Native Americans and lobbied government to protect the Indians and their lands. He was loved by many. His last words were: "Have charity."
Plaque describes how Father Ubach advocated for California’s Native Americans and lobbied government to protect the Indians and their lands. He was loved by many. His last words were: “Have charity.”
Casa de Aguirre in Old Town San Diego today contains a shop visited by many tourists and a small museum in back.
Casa de Aguirre in Old Town San Diego today contains a shop visited by many tourists and a small museum in back.
One side of El Museo Casa de Aguirre. Excavated artifacts are on display, recalling what life was like here in the mid to late 19th century.
One side of El Museo Casa de Aguirre. Excavated artifacts are on display, recalling what life was like here in the mid to late 19th century.
Visitor to the small museum watches a video which includes information about archaeological discoveries, the history of the casa and the lives of those who were sheltered here.
Visitor to the small museum watches a video which includes information about archaeological discoveries, the history of the casa and the lives of those who were sheltered here.
St. Anthony's Indian School Artifacts Tell a Story. Many objects on display include porcelain cups, goblets, bottles, a saltshaker and beer mug.
St. Anthony’s Indian School Artifacts Tell a Story. Many objects on display include porcelain cups, goblets, bottles, a saltshaker and beer mug.
Sign describes additional historical finds, including buttons, toys, harmonicas, slate board and pencils, lice combs, toothbrush handles, shoe parts, medal rosary and religious medallions.
Sign describes additional historical finds, including buttons, toys, harmonicas, slate board and pencils, lice combs, toothbrush handles, shoe parts, medal rosary and religious medallions.
Marbles, doll parts and tiny children's tea sets, recovered from San Diego's past.
Marbles, doll parts and tiny children’s tea sets, recovered from San Diego’s past.
Dozens of buttons on display. They were fastened by many fingers, now long gone.
Dozens of buttons on display. They were fastened by living fingers, now long gone.
Two old pipes.
Two old pipes.
Numerous bottles and jars are exhibited in the Casa de Aguirre Museum. They were used for medicine, mustard, chemicals, perfume, whiskey, beer, sarsaparilla...
Numerous bottles and jars are exhibited in the Casa de Aguirre Museum. They were used for medicine, mustard, chemicals, perfume, whiskey, beer, sarsaparilla…
People interested in collecting antique bottles would be mesmerized by the large assortment on display.
People interested in collecting antique bottles would be mesmerized by the large assortment on display.
Don Antonio and Rosario Aguirre in Old Town History. The museum is located in what was once the bedroom and servants quarters in the Casa de Aguirre. The present-day adobe is a reproduction.
Don Antonio and Rosario Aguirre in Old Town History. The museum is located in what was once the bedroom and servants quarters in the Casa de Aguirre. The present-day adobe is a reproduction.
Don Antonio Aguirre, 1799-1860, was one of San Diego's most important figures back when our burgeoning Southern California city was just a very small town.
Don Antonio Aguirre, 1799-1860, was one of San Diego’s most important figures back when our burgeoning Southern California city was just a very, very small town.
A model of how the Casa de Aguirre appeared a century and a half ago.
A model of how the Casa de Aguirre appeared a century and a half ago.

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San Diego’s early history at the Serra Museum.

The Junipero Serra Museum of the San Diego History Center was built in 1928 on Presidio Hill, where European civilization was established in Alta California.
The Junipero Serra Museum of the San Diego History Center was built in 1928 on Presidio Hill, where European civilization was established in Alta California.

I recently visited one of San Diego’s most fascinating museums. The Junipero Serra Museum is located atop Presidio Hill, in a distinctive Mission Revival architectural style building overlooking San Diego Bay and the San Diego River, just east of Old Town. It stands near the site of San Diego’s historic Spanish presidio, built in 1769. The presidio was the birthplace of European civilization in Alta California.

The Serra Museum is operated by the San Diego History Center, which is headquartered today in Balboa Park. Back in 1929, when the building was dedicated, it became home of what was then called the San Diego Historical Society. The important San Diego institution was established by civic leader George W. Marston.

Can you believe it? I’ve lived in San Diego for 15 years . . . and this was the very first time I ventured into the Serra Museum. (I can thank my blog for that!)

What I discovered was an absolutely amazing place that both residents and visitors to San Diego should definitely not miss.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll see…

People arrive at the Serra Museum, where San Diego's early Spanish history comes alive.
People arrive at the Serra Museum, where San Diego’s early Spanish history comes alive.
Junipero Serra Museum dedicated July 16, 1929 to the memory of the founder of the California missions. The original Mission San Diego de Alcalá was established nearby in 1769.
Junipero Serra Museum dedicated July 16, 1929 to the memory of the founder of the California missions. The original Mission San Diego de Alcalá was established nearby in 1769.
A quick look at the rear of the museum.
A quick look at the rear of the museum.
The Serra Museum building was designed by noted architect William Templeton Johnson. It reflects Spanish Revival architecture.
The Serra Museum building was designed by noted architect William Templeton Johnson. It reflects Mission Revival style architecture.
Large wine press in front of the museum was a gift from the Spanish island of Mallorca, Father Junipero Serra's birthplace.
Large wine press in front of the museum was a gift from the Spanish island of Mallorca, Father Junipero Serra’s birthplace.
Plaque near entrance reads George White Marston 1850-1946. FRIEND OF HIS FELLOW MEN - LOVER OF ALL GROWING THINGS. Piece by piece through many years he acquired these acres...
Plaque near entrance reads George White Marston 1850-1946. FRIEND OF HIS FELLOW MEN – LOVER OF ALL GROWING THINGS. Piece by piece through many years he acquired these acres…
Elegant interior of the Serra Museum contains many exhibits pertaining to San Diego's early Spanish history.
Elegant interior of the Serra Museum contains many exhibits pertaining to San Diego’s early Spanish history.
Researchers discovered this sketch of the Royal San Diego Presidio dated 1820. It shows the layout of the old buildings which no longer exist.
Researchers discovered this sketch of the Royal San Diego Presidio dated 1820. It shows the layout of the old buildings which no longer exist.
Modern graphic illustration of the fortified presidio, which was located a short distance below the Serra Museum's front entrance.
Modern graphic illustration of the fortified presidio, which was located a short distance below the Serra Museum’s front entrance.
Old Spanish cannon named El Jupiter, cast in Manila in the 18th century. El Jupiter stood in Fort Guijarros at Ballast Point, the first defensive fortifications for San Diego Bay
Old Spanish cannon named El Jupiter, cast in Manila in the 18th century. El Jupiter stood in Fort Guijarros at Ballast Point, the first defensive fortifications for San Diego Bay.
Leather armchair made in Catalan, Spain in the 17th century. This "friar's chair" was part of the original Serra Museum's furnishings.
Leather armchair made in Catalan, Spain in the 17th century. This “friar’s chair” was part of the original Serra Museum’s furnishings.
Old violin with bow, a branding iron used by rancheros to identify cattle, and iron spurs are among the many historical objects on display.
Old violin with bow, a branding iron used by rancheros to identify cattle, and iron spurs are among the many historical objects on display.
Another look at the beautiful interior of the Serra Museum in San Diego.
Another look at the beautiful interior of the Serra Museum in San Diego.
Large wooden beams in a truly amazing ceiling.
Large wooden beams in a truly amazing ceiling.
Stairs lead up to the Serra Museum's tower. Painted on the wall is a map showing the sea journey of the Spanish Expedition which founded San Diego in 1769.
Stairs lead up to the Serra Museum’s tower. Painted on the wall is a map showing the sea journey of the Spanish expedition which founded San Diego in 1769.
March 9-20, 1769. Desperate to replace drinking water which leaked from the ship's casks, Captain Vicente Vila commands the Spanish galleon San Carlos near Isla de Cedros.
March 9-20, 1769. Desperate to replace drinking water which leaked from the ship’s casks, Captain Vicente Vila commands the tacking Spanish galleon San Carlos near Isla de Cedros.
A room halfway up the tower. Numerous displays recall San Diego's history, most notably at the time when the Serra Museum was dedicated in 1929.
A room halfway up the tower. Numerous displays recall San Diego’s history, most notably around the time when the Serra Museum was dedicated in 1929.
Old photo of the crowd attending the Serra Museum's dedication ceremony on July 16, 1929.
Old photo of the crowd attending the Serra Museum’s dedication ceremony on July 16, 1929.
A fascinating look at Presidio Hill almost a century ago.
A fascinating look at Presidio Hill almost a century ago.
A lovely watercolor sketch of the Junipero Serra Museum atop Presidio Hill.
A lovely watercolor sketch of the Junipero Serra Museum atop Presidio Hill.
On the wall are many historical photos and artifacts, including an image from around 1930 of a cigar factory on 4th Street in San Diego.
On the wall are many historical photos and artifacts, including an image from around 1930 of a cigar factory on 4th Street in San Diego.
A reproduction of the west elevation drawing of the Serra Museum by architect William Templeton Johnson.
A reproduction of the west elevation drawing of the Serra Museum by architect William Templeton Johnson.
Now we're heading up to the very top of the tower.
Now we’re heading up to the very top of the tower.
Looking west from the Serra Museum tower along Interstate 8. Point Loma is on the left and Mission Bay is to the right.
Looking west from the Serra Museum tower along Interstate 8. Point Loma is on the left and Mission Bay is to the right.
Looking east into Mission Valley.
Looking east into Mission Valley.
Visitors at the Serra Museum head back down from the tower, after looking at old photos which show a less-developed surrounding landscape.
Visitors at the Serra Museum head back down from the tower, after looking at old photos which show a much less-developed surrounding landscape.
A small theater in the Serra Museum contains additional exhibits about life in and around the old Presidio.
A small theater in the Serra Museum contains additional exhibits about life in and around the old Presidio.
Examples of what life was like for the Native American Kumeyaay, who occupied this region long before it was discovered by the Spanish.
Examples of what life was like for the Native American Kumeyaay, who occupied this region long before it was discovered by the Spanish.
Stories of two people who lived on a local Rancho. Click the image to enlarge, if you'd like to read it.
Stories of two people who lived on a local Rancho. Click the image to enlarge, if you’d like to read it.
Map of the old Presidio's archaeological site. You can see where the fort was located in relation to the Serra Museum.
Map of the old Presidio’s archaeological site. You can see where the fort was located in relation to the Serra Museum.
Explanation of the excavation process utilized by researchers. Some artifacts that were unearthed are on display in the museum.
Explanation of the excavation process utilized by researchers. Some artifacts that were unearthed are on display in the museum.
Artistic rendition of a Mexican presidio soldier circa 1830, and a horse's bit.
Artistic rendition of a Mexican presidio soldier circa 1830, and a horse bit.
An olive press, granite mill stones, and an ox yoke.
An olive press, granite mill stones, and an ox yoke.
Small artifacts include this carved polychrome wood San Diego de Alcala Santo from 18th century Spain.
Small artifacts include this carved polychrome wood San Diego de Alcala Santo from 18th century Spain.
Sign describes the life of Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra, and his work to establish the California Missions under the flag of Spain. He was recently made a Catholic Saint.
Sign describes the life of Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra, and his work to establish the California Missions under the flag of Spain. He was recently made a Catholic Saint.
Painting. Oil on canvas. San Diego del Alcala de Henares. Mid 18th century, Spanish or Mexican.
Painting. Oil on canvas. San Diego del Alcala de Henares. Mid 18th century, Spanish or Mexican.
Olla and bowl. Kumeyaay or neighboring culture.
Olla and bowl. Kumeyaay or neighboring culture.
The Serra Museum in San Diego provides a fascinating look at our uniquely diverse city's very early history.
The Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego provides a fascinating look at our culturally diverse city’s very early history.

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