The unusual Rancho Peñasquitos Post Office!

The front of the Rancho Peñasquitos Post Office building doesn’t feature art, it IS the art!

I was walking through Rancho Peñasquitos yesterday when I saw something shiny and silvery up on a hill, so I investigated. These photographs show what I discovered!

Few people were around on a Sunday, which made this sight even more surreal. It was as though I’d stepped into a contemporary sculpture garden, and this was the enormous abstract centerpiece.

I don’t know a single thing about his unusual post office building. I tried to google its history, date of construction, designer . . . could find nothing.

If I do happen upon any information concerning the architecture of this very unique post office, I’ll “post” an update here!

If you know anything, please leave a comment!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Beautiful morning magic on Broadway!

I captured these photographs this morning as the sun was rising. I stood in downtown San Diego, at one magical spot on Broadway.

As I walked past the Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse, I had to freeze in my tracks. Because my eyes were spellbound.

The first photos below are of the San Diego Central Courthouse, whose fascinating architecture rises nearby. Light, shadow, beautiful glass windows and soaring gulls combined to cast their spell…

Then I turned my camera east to capture the magical early morning light along Broadway…

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!

A look at the historic Tom Ah Quin Building.

The Tom Ah Quin Building stands at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Island Avenue in San Diego’s Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District. It was built in 1930 by Thomas A. Quin, the son of Ah Quin, Chinatown’s founder and unofficial mayor.

The Quin Building is in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, an architectural style that became popular in San Diego and Southern California after the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. According to the Historic Building plaque by its entrance, the top part of the Quin Building had two apartments, and the street level contained a storefront and storage space.

A larger structure directly attached to the north side of the building, which was also built in 1930 by Thomas Quin, is called the Casa de Thomas Addition. It has been used by various businesses over the years, including the Empire Garage and Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Company (Convair). I’ve included a photo of that plaque for you to read as well.

Today both the Quin Building and the Casa de Thomas Addition are home to downtown San Diego’s popular FLUXX Nightclub.

You can see a portrait of the Ah Quin family and learn more about San Diego’s old Chinatown by clicking here!

(If you’re curious about that very fancy looking building to the left in the above photo, that’s the Horton Grand Hotel. I blogged about it over seven years ago, when Cool San Diego Sights was just getting started. Learn about how the Horton Grand Hotel is supposedly haunted here!)

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

House of Charm’s bell tower restored!

I couldn’t believe my eyes this afternoon!

I had just entered Balboa Park’s Alcazar Garden when I noticed something unusually colorful up in the sky. It was the bell tower of the House of Charm–appearing brand new!

Look at these photos! The restoration of the bell tower’s exterior has been so remarkable, my photos almost look like perfect, flawless paintings!

The Mingei International Museum, which occupies most of the House of Charm, is currently undergoing their big expansion and renovation, which, among other improvements, will provide visitors access to the bell tower.

The original building and its tower, created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, were designed by architect Carleton Winslow. During the exposition the building was called the Indian Arts Building. The colorful bell tower was modeled after the tower on the Church of Santa Catarina in Puebla, Mexico. It was meant to complement Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower that rises across from what was then called the Montezuma Gardens.

Once the Mingei International Museum’s renovation is complete, the bell tower will feature a new inside staircase and skylight. It will also contain a hanging glass sculpture by acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly.

I’ve included an old black-and-white photograph from 1915 so you can see the original tower and building. The photo below was taken from the Plaza de Panama. Although the building was completely reconstructed in 1996, you’ll notice the bell tower today appears much as it did back during the Panama-California Exposition, over a century ago.

Front of Indian Arts Building during the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. (Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.)
The beautifully restored House of Charm tower, seen from the Alcazar Garden.
Photo of restored House of Charm bell tower taken at a distance, from the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. (As you can see, work is also being done on the Mingei International Museum’s roof.)

UPDATE!

Here are some pics that I took a couple days later…

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A look at the historic Hayward-Patterson House.

During my walk through Golden Hill last weekend I passed dozens of charming old Victorian homes.

Golden Hill and adjacent Sherman Heights seem to have the greatest concentration of Victorian houses in San Diego. In the late 1800’s and very early 1900’s, many of the city’s elite residents built houses in these then-fashionable neighborhoods just east of downtown. The hillside locations offered panoramic views of the city and San Diego Bay.

As I walked down Broadway, I noticed one beautifully restored structure had a plaque indicating it was the Hayward-Patterson House, City of San Diego Historical Landmark No. 85.

A little online research shows the Italianate-style house was built in 1887 by Albert Moses Hayward, an early president of the San Diego Yacht Club and captain of the yacht San Diego. The second owner was Francis Elliot Patterson, a notable photographer and camera store owner who lived in the house for over thirty years.

Various owners followed. It’s currently the office of Finest City Homes and Loans.

As I walked past the Hayward-Patterson House, I snapped a few photographs.

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

San Diego’s original federal building and courthouse.

Few people ever see downtown San Diego’s original federal building and courthouse. It stands off the beaten track, surrounded by tall buildings, where few tourists or locals venture.

Some of those who approach the old federal building might have tried to avoid it. That’s because the historic building, built in 1911-13, is presently a U.S. Bankruptcy Court. It’s named the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse, home to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California.

According to the court’s website: “In 1906, Congress authorized construction of the first permanent federal building in San Diego, specifically designed to house the U.S. Post Office, the U.S. District Court, and U.S. Customs. It was commissioned on April 5, 1913 as the ‘U.S. Post Office and Custom House.’ The architecture of the building is an eclectic design, blending ‘monumental classicism and Spanish colonial revival,’ creating a federal building that uniquely recognizes San Diego’s Hispanic heritage…”

The building was designed by architect James Knox Taylor, who was Supervising Architect of the United States Department of the Treasury from 1897 to 1912.

Over the years this old federal building has undergone restoration. In my exterior photographs you can see the colonnaded portico and distinctive square towers.

Make sure to visit the court’s website to read much more about the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse’s long, colorful history. Among other things, you’ll learn that horticulturalist Kate Sessions, who introduced many of the trees and plants now found throughout Balboa Park, landscaped the building’s grounds, and how in “August of 1917, Postmaster Barrow asked for permission ‘to plow up the large lawn to the south of the building and plant the ground to potatoes, beans, or some other useful vegetable,’ to locally support the World War I war effort.”

I see that tours of the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse are available by appointment. One day I’ll go on one and experience the historic building’s interior. Unless I go bankrupt first…

For tour information, click here!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Downtown from a bird’s perspective.

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to fly around a city as a bird? Traveling in three dimensions, in any direction, wherever you please?

When I walk downtown, with all the seagulls, crows, sparrows, pigeons and other birds flying about, I sometimes try to imagine what they see. And what, if anything, they think of it all!

During my walk this morning I took the above photo at Civic Center Plaza. And I started to look for unique and unusual photographs.

Gravity glued me to the sidewalk, but some of these photos might provide something of a bird’s perspective.

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!

Photos outside the historic Stein Family Farm.

The other day I walked down a National City sidewalk past the historic Stein Family Farm. It was closed at the time, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so I took these outside photographs!

I spoke over the fence briefly to a couple of nice ladies near the farmhouse and a gentleman volunteer. I vowed that one day I’d return and take a tour!

The Stein Family Farm was once home to Charles Stein, an immigrant German farmer, his wife Bertha and five children. The construction of the Otay Dam in 1897 caused flooding to the Stein’s original property near Mexico, so the family moved to this National City location in 1900.

The 2-acre Stein Family Farm Museum includes their house, barn containing many antique farm implements and vehicles, and other structures, as well as farm animals (from around the world!) and an orchard containing a variety of fruit trees, which you can see in the last two photos.

I learned that second house you see in my photos, a 19th century Queen Anne Victorian, was recently relocated to the museum grounds. It awaits restoration.

Check out the Stein Family Farm’s website for more information here!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A look at the Woolworth Building in the Gaslamp.

Many fascinating old buildings stand in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Many were built in the late 1800’s during one of the city’s early booms.

I always enjoy looking at the 1886 Woolworth Building as I walk along Fifth Avenue south of Broadway. Not because its architecture is particularly unique or interesting. No, I see that word Woolworth near the rooftop and vague memories from my very early childhood flash inside my aged brain.

I recall how my parents would take me shopping at a Woolworth’s, and how I would always be treated to an ice cream at the store’s stainless steel lunch counter and soda fountain. Memories can be funny. Don’t ask me where this Woolworth store was. All I really remember is standing before all that ice cream, and always choosing Rocky Road.

So what happened to the F. W. Woolworth Company and their immense chain of retail stores? They morphed into Foot Locker! (Regrettably, I’m pretty sure most Foot Lockers don’t serve ice cream.)

Since you might have some difficulty reading the weathered plaque near the entrance to the Woolworth Building, I’ve tried to transcribe it correctly:

Woolworth Building, 1886. Originally Victorian in its architecture, this brick and wood frame building was used for retail stores on the first floor, offices on the second, and furnished rooms on the third. In 1922, Frank W. Woolworth, founder of the five-and-dime stores, had the building remodeled. The original Victorian bay windows were removed, and four Corinthian pilasters were added to a gray granite facade. Woolworth leased the structure for 50 years.

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

More fascinating doors around San Diego!

Here’s another batch of fascinating door photographs!

I have a little extra time indoors this wintry morning, so I’m going through some old photos in my computer. These images were collected in the past month or so during walks all around San Diego.

You might notice many of the ornate wooden doors are in a Mexican style that is popular in Southern California.

The unmistakable front doors of the iconic California Building in Balboa Park, home of the Museum of Us.
Huge door to the downtown power substation that was designed by famed architect Richard Requa.

If you want to learn more about the above building, which sort of resembles a castle, click here.

Strange service door on curved side of the Portside Pier restaurants on the Embarcadero.
Unique door to El Chingon in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Unusual door I spotted during a walk somewhere.

The next four doors were all observed on Congress Street in Old Town. I really like these…

Finally, the last two doors can be found among the International Cottages in Balboa Park…

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!