Carlsbad history at St. Michael’s By-the-Sea.

The fascinating history of Carlsbad includes its very first church, St. Michael’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, built in 1894.

St. Michael’s By-the-Sea is located on Carlsbad Boulevard at Christiansen Way, a block south of Magee Park.

During a recent adventure in San Diego’s North County, I walked around the church’s original structure, which stands by several other later buildings.

I paused to read this plaque…

The first church built in Carlsbad was St. Michael’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Originally erected in 1894 overlooking the ocean on Oak Avenue, the quaint Gothic structure was moved to its current site in 1959 when Florence Shipley Magee donated an adjacent site for a new church.

Original redwood paneling, oak pews, and a Victorian pump organ are all still in good condition. The only alterations are a new entry, replacing one which led directly into the choir area at the front of the chapel, and a new heating and air conditioning system.

Far from being a relic of the past, the chapel is used for regular Sunday and weekday services as well as for weddings and funerals.


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!

Repairing the historic Old Adobe Chapel.

I recently learned that the historic Old Adobe Chapel in Old Town is being repaired and restored by the City of San Diego. I was told the roof leaks and a long, very serious crack was discovered along one wall. (I believe you can see it in one upcoming photo.)

I happened to be walking through Old Town yesterday when I remembered being told this. So I walked to 3963 Conde Street to see for myself.

The Adobe Chapel (also known as the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception) is designated California Historical Landmark No. 49. It was originally built in 1850. Initially the structure served as a home, then in 1858 it was turned into a church that would become a center for activity in early San Diego.

The old chapel has a rich history. It was said to be the wedding place of the character Ramona in Helen Hunt Jackson’s wildly popular 1884 novel of the same name. The Adobe Chapel would later be bulldozed and rebuilt in the 1930’s. To learn more about its history, visit the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) website here and here. To enjoy a fascinating gallery of images, click here.

The Adobe Chapel is presently operated by SOHO. It is both a museum and special event venue. According to their website, it should be reopening, after repairs, sometime in 2022.

I see a long crack!
Photo of historical plaques and sign taken from a nearby parking lot.



Old Adobe Chapel




A view of the Old Adobe Chapel from Conde Street in Old Town San Diego.

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 mysterious bell in Old Town San Diego!

Help solve a rather strange historical mystery!

There’s a large bell mounted above the entrance of the Five & Dime General Store in Old Town, at 2501 San Diego Avenue, and nobody I’ve spoken to knows why it’s there!

I’ve spoken to friendly people who work at the store, and employees at nearby Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and the bell remains a complete mystery! I’ve also performed searches on the internet, to no avail.

Written on the bell are the words STEEL ALLOY CHURCH BELL and the number 40, which means it’s a 40 inch bell. On the internet I’ve observed identical bells manufactured by the The C. S. Bell Company, which was in operation from 1875 to the 1970’s. The bell itself looks pretty old.

Another possible clue: this building was once the home of the Studio Gallery, which featured original artwork by famous artists, including Chuck Jones and Dr. Seuss.

Who out there knows anything about this large rooftop bell?

Why is it there? Where did it come from? Who mounted this old bell atop the building and when?

If you know or suspect 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!

Lemon Grove history at the Parsonage Museum.

One of the most fascinating museums in San Diego County is located in the city of Lemon Grove.

The Parsonage Museum, operated by the Lemon Grove Historical Society, occupies a beautifully restored Victorian building at Treganza Heritage Park. The building began as Lemon Grove’s first church, the 1897 Atherton Chapel.

The old church was eventually moved from its original location, served as a community meeting hall, then became a private residence. Today it houses a museum whose exhibits recall a time when Lemon Grove was a small agricultural town with citrus orchards and packing houses, a general store, and a boast of the Best Climate on Earth!

I walked about Treganza Heritage Park and visited the Parsonage Museum last weekend. I also took a quick look at the 1928 H. Lee House, a Tudor Revival structure that stands nearby in the park and serves as a cultural center.

I urge anyone interested in the history of San Diego and Lemon Grove to head to the Parsonage Museum on a day when they are open. See their website for more information here!

To get an idea of what you’ll discover, please read my photo captions!

Treganza Heritage Park in Lemon Grove was first called Civic Center Park. It’s name was changed in 2020. The Treganza family was an influential pioneer family in Lemon Grove.
A view of the H. Lee House. It was moved to this location to make way for the extension of State Route 125.
The H. Lee House was built in 1928. It was designed by British architect Frederick C. Clemesha. Today it serves as a cultural center, where events such as History Alive lectures can be enjoyed.
One more photo of the handsome H. Lee House.
Lemon trees stand in a plaza between the H. Lee House and the Parsonage Museum.
The small plaza welcomes visitors to Treganza Heritage Park.
A 2002 dedication plaque from back when it was called Civic Center Park.
Now turning to look at the Parsonage Museum. The restored Folk Victorian building, the 1897 Atherton Chapel, served as the only Lemon Grove church until 1912.
Recovered grave marker of Anton Sonka just outside the museum entrance.

Anton Sonka was the patriarch of the Sonka family that led the growth of Lemon Grove between 1908 and the 1950s. His headstone, along with many others, was removed from Calvary Cemetery in 1970 by the City of San Diego and dumped at Mt. Hope Cemetery for mass burial. In 1985 Lemon Grove Historical Society members rescued and stored the headstone. It was brought to The Parsonage Museum in 2000 and unveiled on this permanent site in 2004.

(If you’d like to learn more about this callous dumping of gravestones, which were discovered in a gully at Mt. Hope Cemetery, I posted a blog concerning it here.)

When I visited in November 2021, the Parsonage Museum was featuring several historical exhibits concerning Lemon Grove.
The museum building was “Built in 1897 as First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove.”
Stepping into the museum, greeted by a lemony, welcoming doormat!
Look at what’s in the museum! A recreation of the Sonka Brothers General Store.
Items on display recall Lemon Grove’s rural history, which includes general stores where the community would gather.

The Sonka Brothers General Store stood near the center of town for decades. You can see photos of the Lemon Grove History Mural that’s painted on the south side of the historic Sonka Brothers General Store building here!

Photo from October 3, 1957 of The Big Lemon during a flag-raising. Civic leader Tony Sonka stands at the center.

If you like to see The Big Lemon today, which still stands on Broadway, check out these photos!

Old drum from the Lemon Grove Junior High School band.
1891 photograph of the first general store in Lemon Grove, built by A. E. Christianson at Main and Pacific Streets.
The many displays at the Parsonage Museum include these Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association packing crates.
Lemon sizers, circa 1930’s. Packers would separate lemons by size.
Woman holding lemon sizer, with stacked ready-to-assemble crates nearby.
A room on the ground floor of the Parsonage Museum recreates the Parson’s Study. Reverend Isaac Atherton established the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove in 1894. The building was constructed in 1897.
Several rooms can be viewed on the second floor of the Parsonage Museum, including this Parents’ Room, or bedroom.
The Sewing Room.
The Children’s Room.
Back on the museum’s ground floor, in a corner gallery, the current exhibit is titled Miller Dairy Remembered. This local dairy sold its first milk in 1926. Houses were finally built on the ranch site in the 1980’s. An important chapter of Lemon Grove’s agrarian past is recalled.
Lemon Grove’s old Miller Dairy and their 300 freely roaming Holstein cows are fondly remembered at the Parsonage Museum.
Historical photos show the Miller Dairy in Lemon Grove, from 1940-1980.
One last look at the lemon yellow Parsonage Museum!

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!

End hunger with the SD Fridge Project!

Here’s an idea to consider if you’d like to help neighbors who could use a little food assistance.

While out on a recent walk, I spotted a refrigerator and some shelves in front of the Normal Heights United Methodist Church. A sign on the fridge stated FREE FOOD. I had to check it out.

Members of the church are participating in the SD Fridge Project, and the canned food and fresh vegetables near the church entrance are free for the taking. If anyone in the community is in a difficult place and could use some food, they are more than welcome to help themselves.

I read the info on a sheet taped to the refrigerator and learned more about the SD Fridge Project (@sdfridgeprojects). I took a photo so you can read it and perhaps become involved, too!

You can find the enlarged email address in an upcoming photograph, if you’d like to participate!

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!

Another walk in the Village of La Jolla.

On Saturday I enjoyed another meandering walk through the Village of La Jolla. I had only one destination in mind: the rear of a bench at the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial. You’ll see why in a coming blog post!

As I walked along I photographed whatever caught my fancy. The murals you see here I haven’t documented in the past.

The Bishop’s School tower. Designed by noted architect Carleton Monroe Winslow, the Bishop Johnson Tower was added to St. Mary’s Chapel in 1930.
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial by the La Jolla Recreation Center. (Stay tuned for photos of beautiful public art on the other side of that bench!)
Looking out at the Pacific Ocean from the edge of Ellen Browning Scripps Park.
Many people stop to look at sea lions down on the rocks.
People walk along or buy treats on a Saturday by La Jolla Cove.
Gazing down at popular La Jolla Cove.
Mermaids drink free!
The Cave Store is where you can enter Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave through an old bootlegger’s tunnel.
Raymond Chandler at the Whaling Bar, 2018, Raul Guerrero. One of the Murals of La Jolla.
Unity in Diversity. Mural by Gennaro Garcia.
La Valencia Hotel seen from across Prospect Street. The Pink Lady of La Jolla has been a destination of the Hollywood elite, built in 1926.
St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. The 1928 tower was designed by Louis Gill, based on images from Campo Florida in Mexico.
Front of La Jolla Woman’s Club. California’s first tilt-up concrete building, it was designed by pioneering architect Irving Gill in 1912.
A mural I spotted on Pearl Street.
Fresheria mural on Pearl Street, by @el_pekaso

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Photos of historic St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in National City is one of the historic churches I paused to look at during my most recent walk around South Bay.

I was taken by how uniquely handsome this church appears. To my eyes, its unusual fusion of Gothic Revival and Tudor architecture is simultaneously elegant and welcoming.

According to Wikipedia: St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church …was built in 1887. It was designed by Chula Vista architect William Herman…inspired by a picture of a small church in the south of England…An Episcopal Society for National City was formed on January 30, 1882; the secretary was Frank Kimball, founder of National City.

In the late 19th century ambitious builder Frank Kimball hoped to make National City the western terminus of a transcontinental railroad. If you’d like to learn much more about his efforts and National City’s early history, you can check out a more detailed old blog post here.

I walked around the church and took some photos that you might enjoy…

The above sign near the church’s entrance reads:

National City Historic Site


Built on land originally set aside for a church by the Kimball brothers, but the gift of Elizur Steele. First services held July 3, 1887. Timbers were brought around the Horn. Construction is of California Redwood.

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!

Photos outside the old Nestor Methodist Church.

This weekend I passed by a couple of old churches in San Diego’s South Bay.

I was walking along Coronado Avenue, just west of Interstate 5, when I saw a white church with an old-fashioned steeple up a low hill. My feet turned toward it for a closer look.

What I discovered was the Nestor United Methodist Church, built in 1896. A friendly gentleman who I believe might belong to the church showed me the building’s brick cornerstone, which I photographed.

Nestor is a community that lies between Imperial Beach and Otay Mesa West. I tried to do a little internet searching to find out more about this historic church, and came upon this South Bay Historical Society Bulletin from 2016, which states:

1896 – Nestor United Methodist Church at Coronado and Hollister was built on land donated by Captain John Folks. The first Methodist organization in the South Bay area was the Tia Juana Valley Methodist Sunday School in Oneonta, beginning in 1888.

Services were conducted in the upstairs room of the Oneonta School. The cornerstone of the present structure at 1120 22nd Street was laid on July 23, 1896. The National City and Otay Railway ran special trains to the ceremony from San Diego.

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!

Christmas carol performance at Waterfront Park.

Early this afternoon people converged upon Waterfront Park to listen to Christmas music, including many favorite carols.

I walked up a few minutes after the performance began. The festive Christmas Carol Sing concert was put on by the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego, with joyful music provided by their Westminster Orchestra.

I walked around the group taking these photos, often capturing the County Administration Building and tall ships of the Maritime Museum of San Diego in the background. I then settled in to listen for a while.

Many of the adults I saw were smiling. Many of the children were dancing.

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!

Hidden historical marker near Mission San Diego.

There’s an important historical marker near Mission San Diego de Alcalá that very few people know about or see. It’s located on private property along San Diego Mission Road, just inside the grounds of a condo complex. You can find it a short distance east of the mission, on some grass behind a fence, very close to the San Diego River.

I was able to take zoom photos of the “hidden” marker and its bronze plaque from the sidewalk.

The words read:

Padre Luis Jayme, Pastor of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was martyred near this site November 5, 1775. Father Jayme had asked that the Mission be moved to its present site from Presidio Hill in order to better grow foods for the Mission.

In this area the Mission padres produced grapes, olives and other farm products for the Indian and Spanish communities.

Also near this site a small structure housed the guard from the Royal Presidio, which served as escort and guard for the Mission padres.

The historical marker was placed where Father Jayme’s body was found. He was killed by a large force of native people, said to be Yuman Indians from distant villages, in an uprising in 1775, about a year after the nearby mission was built. The mission was pillaged and set on fire. Survivors of the attack fled to the Presidio, six miles away down the river.

Over the centuries Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first Spanish mission in California, has been rebuilt several times. The remains of Father Luis Jayme are entombed under the floor next to the altar in the present church.

Looking west down San Diego Mission Road. The mission is located on the hillside beyond those trees..

The nearby San Diego River, where it is crossed by San Diego Mission Road…

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!