Sculpture of Mark Twain reading book on bench.

Sculpture of Mark Twain sitting on a bench at Fenton Marketplace in Mission Valley.
Bronze sculpture of Mark Twain sitting on a bench at Fenton Marketplace in Mission Valley.

A very famous author is known to hang out in San Diego.  He’s usually seen just off Friars Road in Mission Valley. He likes to sit on a bench at Fenton Marketplace in front of the International House of Pancakes!

Who is this celebrated writer of American literature? That prolific master of humor and satire, Mark Twain!

According to my research on the internet, Mr. Samuel Clemens seems to get around. He’s been seen in the same pose in numerous cities. That’s because the bronze sculpture, by artist Gary Lee Price, is practically mass-produced!

Samuel Clemens gazes up from his book.
Samuel Clemens gazes up dreamily from his book.
Mark Twain is reading his own classic American novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Mark Twain is reading his own classic American novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Famous author sits on bench by fountain in front of IHOP.
Famous author with biting wit sits on bench by fountain in front of IHOP.

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Mark Twain lives at Old Town’s TwainFest!

Here comes Mark Twain during Old Town San Diego's literary TwainFest!
Here comes Mark Twain during Old Town San Diego’s literary TwainFest!

One of my favorite San Diego events of all time took place today in historic Old Town!

TwainFest is an amazing annual festival celebrating Mark Twain and other famous authors from the 19th century. While there seems to be an emphasis on American and English novelists, I saw homages to writers, poets and storytellers from around the world. Scenes from American and California history also appear in several of the exhibits. Which makes sense, because Old Town is a history-filled park recreating the earliest days of San Diego!

To get an idea of what TwainFest is about, enjoy a quick look at these fun pics! And be sure to attend next year, if you can!

TwainFest is part of Stagecoach Days at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Event is part of Stagecoach Days at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
And here comes a towering puppet of American author Edgar Allan Poe!
And here comes a towering puppet of American author Edgar Allan Poe!
Lots of entertainment included a stage with music and various contests.
Lots of entertainment included a stage with music and various contests.
Music included those familiar old folk songs that had everyone clapping.
Music included those familiar old folk songs that had everyone clapping.
Costumed participants were roaming about the central plaza of historic Old Town.
Costumed participants roaming about the central plaza of historic Old Town.
Families enjoyed many activities including games.
Families enjoyed many activities including games.
Excited kids blast off across the grass in an old-fashioned sack race!
Excited kids blast off across the grass in an old-fashioned sack race!
Kids of all ages enjoyed many unique literature-themed games and activities.
Kids of all ages enjoyed many unique literature-themed games and activities.
The TwainFest Wheel of Fiction featured many famous writers.
The TwainFest Wheel of Fiction featured many famous writers.
Booth inspired by Lewis Carroll had me making up a silly word!
Booth inspired by Lewis Carroll had me making up a silly word!
Never-ending stories had visitors adding their imaginative sentences.
Never-ending stories had visitors adding their imaginative sentences.
The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County readies to soar from a catapult!
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County ready to soar from catapult!
I wonder if Mark Twain imagined kids would replicate his famous short story!
I wonder if Mark Twain imagined kids would replicate his famous short story!
Children really enjoyed this guy's amazing flea circus!
Children really enjoyed this cool guy’s amazing flea circus!
A flea performer mounts the trapeze before the incredulous audience.
A flea performer mounts the trapeze before the incredulous audience.
Girl uses magnifying lenses to watch a flea take a swan dive from high platform.
Girl uses magnifying lenses to watch a flea take a swan dive from high platform.
The Quotation Machine rumbled before producing a quote.
The Quotation Machine rumbled before producing a quote.
Here come some horses around the Old Town San Diego square!
Here come some horses around the Old Town San Diego square!
The Marshall informed me that all was well.
The Marshall informed me that all was well.
Small audience in one shady corner enjoyed music and stories.
Small audience in one shady corner enjoyed music and stories.
The big Liar's Contest featured lots of tall tales and jaw-dropping whoppers.
The big Liar’s Contest featured lots of tall tales and jaw-dropping whoppers.
This guy is demonstrating the eloquent effects of literary potions.
This slick salesman is demonstrating the eloquent effects of literary potions.
Bottled Verne, Dickinson, Whitman, Bronte, Byron and more!
Bottled Verne, Dickinson, Whitman, Bronte, Byron and more!
Voters in election of 1872 must pass a literacy test!
Voters in presidential election of 1872 must pass a literacy test!
Of course, TwainFest had a bookstore with many classics of literature!
Of course, TwainFest had a bookstore with many classics of literature!
People could trade places with Henry David Thoreau.
People could trade places with Henry David Thoreau.
The guilty author of civil disobedience!
The obviously guilty author of civil disobedience!
Thoreau locks himself in with a brave visitor.
Thoreau locks himself in with a brave visitor.
It's the Daniel Webster Frog Toss!
It’s the Daniel Webster Frog Toss!
Carroll's Red Queen challenges all comers to flamingo croquet!
Carroll’s Red Queen challenges all comers to flamingo croquet!
Old Town event included the historic Mason Street School.
Old Town event included the historic Mason Street School.
Actors read poetry from Alice in Wonderland in one room schoolhouse.
Actors read poetry from Alice in Wonderland in one room schoolhouse.
Here come participants in the literary costume contest!
Here come participants in the fancy literary costume contest!
The spirit of Twain lives at this wonderful annual festival.
The spirit of Twain lives at this very wonderful annual festival.

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Festival celebrates Wizard of Oz in Coronado!

Festival celebrates Oz at Spreckels Park in Coronado.
Festival celebrates all things Oz at Spreckels Park in Coronado.

Today a special event was held in Coronado’s Spreckels Park celebrating The Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum’s other popular children’s novels. The family festival was put on to coincide with the 50th annual Winkie Con, a convention for fans of the Land of Oz.

Winkie Con, now also called Oz Con International (I suspect to sound like Comic-Con International), is growing in popularity and will be held next week for the first time in San Diego. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the classic Wizard of Oz movie, starring Judy Garland!

I strolled through the happy, colorful Coronado festival and got a few pics. According to what I’ve read, there were all sorts of activities during the day, including a children’s parade.

I then sauntered across Orange Avenue and took several photos of the famous Wizard of Oz stained glass wall inside the Coronado Public Library!

Dorothy and a Wicked Witch walk along checking out some art.
Dorothy and a Wicked Witch walk along checking out some art.
Art along Orange Avenue sidewalk includes images from the Oz books.
Art along Orange Avenue sidewalk includes images from the Oz books.
Wizard of Oz characters were all over Spreckels Park today!
Wizard of Oz characters were all over Spreckels Park today!
People enjoy music at the bandstand on a warm summer day.
People enjoy music at the bandstand on a warm summer day.
Kids can follow the yellow brick road and spin a prize wheel.
Kids could follow the yellow brick road and spin a prize wheel.
These signs and balloons were all over the green grass.
These signs and balloons were all over the green grass.

I assume these were part of a fun kids activity.

The Cowardly Lion on stained glass at Coronado Public Library.
The Cowardly Lion on stained glass at Coronado Public Library.

Now I’m visiting the Coronado Library which is located across the street from Spreckels Park.

Author L. Frank Baum spent a good deal of time in Coronado, writing many of his novels in a rented house not far from the Hotel del Coronado.  (You might check out my earlier blog post on this subject!)  He modeled the Emerald City of Oz after the fantastic, world famous Victorian beach resort hotel.

Because of its strong connection with L. Frank Baum, Coronado today is often referred to as the Emerald City!

These fun Wizard of Oz glass panels in the library were created by artist Brenda Smith.

The Scarecrow greets library visitors.
The Scarecrow greets two crows and library visitors.
Dorothy, Toto and Munchkins are a permanent feature of the library!
Dorothy, Toto and Munchkins are a permanent feature of the library!

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Ramona saved Casa de Estudillo in Old Town.

Front of Casa de Estudillo seen during Cinco de Mayo.
Front of Casa de Estudillo seen during Cinco de Mayo.

Ramona, written by Helen Hunt Jackson in 1884, is one of the most popular American novels in history. The book has had more than 300 printings. It’s been made into a movie four times. Today, few remember it.

Those who walk through La Casa de Estudillo in San Diego’s historic Old Town, however, are seeing with their own eyes a remnant of Ramona’s fame. Without that novel, and past generations’ fondness for its main character, this handsome old building and possibly others around it would have been torn down and utterly obliterated.

The Casa de Estudillo was built in 1827. It was the property of José María Estudillo, an early settler of San Diego. Captain Estudillo was twice Commandant of the Presidio of San Diego. This large, many-roomed adobe was one of finest houses in all of Mexican California, and remains one of the oldest surviving examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in California.

Shortly after the publication of Ramona, the house, in the hands of a caretaker, enjoyed a burst of popularity with tourists when San Diego’s newspaper, the San Diego Union, declared that the Estudillo house was the title character’s wedding place. Helen Hunt Jackson never stated this was so; the novel described a similar location, but was fictional.

As decades went by the old adobe fell into disrepair and might have been razed. In 1906, John D. Spreckels, owner of the San Diego Electric Railway Company and the Union newspaper, purchased the house and preserved it, transforming it into a true tourist attraction. He altered the building to make it seem more compatible with the description of Ramona’s marriage place, while adding electricity and other conveniences.

The building eventually was given National Historic Landmark status. It’s exaggerated association with the novel caused it to be officially described as “Casa Estudillo/Ramona’s Marriage Place.”

Just inside the courtyard looking up at bell tower.
Just inside the courtyard looking up at bell tower.
Courtyard fountain of historic Casa de Estudillo.
Courtyard fountain of historic Casa de Estudillo.
Outdoor oven and one end of old U-shaped adobe house.
Outdoor oven and one end of old U-shaped adobe house.
The house was heavily promoted as the birthplace of Ramona.
The house was heavily promoted as the wedding place of Ramona.
Walking along the outdoor corridor of old Spanish Colonial home.
Walking along the outdoor corridor of old Spanish Colonial home.
Camera's flash illuminates one interior room.
Camera’s flash illuminates one interior room.
Trees and flowers in the beautiful courtyard.
Trees and flowers in the beautiful courtyard.
Ramona, a famous novel, saved historic buildings in Old Town.
Ramona, a famous novel, saved history in Old Town.

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The Wizard of Oz house in Coronado.

Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum rented this house in Coronado.
Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum rented this house in Coronado.

L. Frank Baum is one of America’s most beloved authors. He wrote the Wizard of Oz series of novels.

Baum, who lived in South Dakota, spent many winters at this rented house in Coronado, where he wrote three novels: Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz and The Road to Oz, plus significant portions of The Marvelous Land of Oz.

When not writing, he enjoyed himself at the nearby Hotel del Coronado. The Victorian architecture of the famous beach resort is said to be the inspiration for much of the fantastic imagery in the Oz novels.  He personally designed the huge crown-shaped chandeliers in the hotel’s grand Crown Room.

Today, the island city of Coronado has two nicknames: the Crown City and the Emerald City.

Wizard of Oz Ave sign above front door.
Wizard of Oz Ave sign above front door.
L. Frank Baum wrote several Wizard of Oz novels at this house.
L. Frank Baum wrote several Wizard of Oz novels at this house.
The Wizard of Oz house is located in Coronado, the Emerald City.
The Wizard of Oz house is located in Coronado, the Emerald City.

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