A tour of Olivewood Gardens in National City.

Yesterday I enjoyed an awesome tour of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City.

As you will see in my photographs, Olivewood Gardens is a very special place.

It’s a green paradise in the middle of an urban setting, where students, families and neighbors learn about organic gardening and good nutrition. Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is the destination of school field trips, where city kids can experience the virtues of a vegetable garden, being active outdoors, and environmental stewardship. There are also classes where parents learn how to prepare healthy meals, and how to become leaders in their community.

Graduates of Olivewood’s Cooking for Salud program are called Kitchenistas. They are integral participants in this non-profit organization’s educational programs. The Kitchenistas, through a Community Engagement Program, proudly work to improve the well-being of families throughout National City!

Patty Corona, the Cooking for Salud Coordinator, showed me all around Olivewood Gardens. We toured most of the grounds and checked out several demonstration gardening areas. We then walked through Olivewood’s historic Victorian house and its kitchen, which serve as the hub for a variety of fun events and educational activities.

In 2006, the beautiful 1896 Queen Anne style house and surrounding gardens were generously donated by the Walton family to the International Community Foundation “with the goal of leveraging the property to engage, grow, and promote healthy communities and dialogue through civic engagement and philanthropy in the San Diego-Baja California border region.” Through their own personal experiences, the Waltons understood the importance of eating healthy foods.

Learn more about the history of ICF and Olivewood Gardens, and the positive programs that are offered to the community, by visiting their website here.

Please enjoy these photographs from my tour! And read the photo captions for much more information.

I was excited to discover this small paradise in San Diego’s South Bay area, where gardens flourish, the sun shines, and nature’s beauty and healthy people thrive!

A view of Olivewood Garden’s beautiful Victorian house from N Avenue in National City.
One of many works of art gracing Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
Various signs near the the late 19th century house provide visitors with information.
Oliver H. Noyes, National City postmaster (and retired senator from New Hampshire), built this Victorian house for his family in 1896. They sold it in 1947 to the Newlan family, who sold it to John and Christy Walton in 1985…
In July 2006, Christy Walton donated her former home and garden to the International Community Foundation to increase cross-border dialogue and philanthropy…
An area of the garden north of the house where school students gather, experience and learn.
Beds with growing vegetables, where young hands can work in the earth.
Look at all the healthy veges growing in this organic garden!
When I was young, my family had a large vegetable garden. Simply standing here brought back happy memories.
More surprising artwork in the garden. A stunning mosaic depicts colorful flowers.
Here’s a small succulent garden, demonstrating native plants.
Mural on a garden shed is bright with fruits and vegetables. By artist Brianna Perkins.
Don’t hog the water. Think several generations ahead.
Many butterflies like these, decorated differently, can be found in parks around National City. They were created by artist Roberto Salas, the Kitchenistas, and families from around the community.
As we walked along, I spied these sunlit roses.
A closer look at the beautiful sculpture you saw earlier from the street. It’s titled Reina de los Mares (Queen of the Seas), by artist Rocio Sánchez.
Walking through a lush green world.
We’ve arrived at another larger garden south of the house.

A sign describes Lukas’ garden…

When the Walton family lived here, their son Lukas was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three. When his cancer returned…his parents decided to treat him with herbs, juices, and produce they grew themselves. They made changes to their garden, growing all their food organically (with no chemicals) and biodynamically (by building healthy, living soil).

Lukas graduated from college, cancer-free in 2010.

A funny mural painted by the chicken coop.
Olivewood Gardens is filled with natural beauty.
A nursery on the grounds, overlooking National City Golf Course.
Taking a trail few other visitors travel.
On the hill above the golf course, Olivewood Gardens is growing dragon fruit! These interesting cacti are indigenous to the Americas.
Delight.
Making our way back to the Victorian house. This is where many classes, events and activities are held at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
A mermaid sculpture beside the house.
Hand prints from the four members of the Walton family.
The kitchen area, where healthy cooking classes for students and parents take place.
Gorgeous stained glass window in the nearby dining room, where presentations to local teachers are also made.

The following few photos provide a taste of the house’s amazing interior decoration.

An old photograph in one room shows the house as it appeared over a century ago. Today the historic house remains in absolutely pristine condition.

Photograph of the Oliver H. Noyes home, circa 1900.
A smile at a very special place in National City!

Feeling inspired?

Do you want to volunteer, become an intern, learn gardening, take a cooking class, request a speaker, book a private event? Would you like to take steps toward becoming a community leader, so that you can create positive change?

Want to learn more?

Visit the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center website 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!

Sister tree of Balboa Park’s Moreton Bay Fig!

Did you know the huge Moreton Bay Fig tree in Balboa Park, which stands near the San Diego Natural History Museum, has a sister tree in National City?

I was surprised to learn this when I visited Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center today!

According to one sign at Olivewood Gardens, their Moreton Bay Fig, which shades a demonstration vegetable garden, was also planted in Balboa Park for the 1915 Panama California Exposition. But years ago it was transplanted to National City, and now students and families visiting Olivewood Gardens can gather in its ample shade.

Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is a wonderful place where people from around the community can learn about gardening, preparing healthy food, protecting the environment, and becoming civic leaders. It’s located on the expansive grounds of an historic home that was donated for this cause by its philanthropic former owners. I will be blogging more about Olivewood Gardens shortly.

I was given an incredible tour of wonders all around National City today, and I’ll be sharing lots of inspiring and beautiful photographs, so stay tuned!

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!

Old Town home of Squibob, who inspired Mark Twain.

One of San Diego’s most famous houses stands in Old Town at 4015 Harney Street. It’s a modest little structure that you might easily pass by without a second glance.

For a couple of years, 1853-1854, the Derby-Pendleton House was the home of Lieutenant George Horatio Derby, an American humorist who wrote articles for California newspapers, including the San Diego Herald, under the pseudonyms Squibob and John Phoenix. It is said his style of writing, employing absurdity, exaggeration, irreverence and good fun, inspired Mark Twain, Artemus Ward, Bret Harte and others.

Derby’s Wikipedia page states: According to the newly (2010) published Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. One, Ulysses S. Grant was a classmate of “Squibob’s” and the General told Twain some stories of Squibob at West Point.

In 1856 Derby’s immensely popular book Phoenixiana was published. It contains many of his humorous pieces, including articles he wrote concerning San Diego. I like the gentle humor of his description of Old Town’s Fourth of July in 1854. It is found on page 123: At 9 A.M. precisely, the San Diego Light Infantry, in full uniform, consisting of Brown’s little boy, in his shirt-tail, fired a national salute with a large bunch of fire-crackers. This part of the celebration went off admirably; with the exception of the young gentleman having set fire to his shirt tail, which was fortunately immediately extinguished without incident.

Why was Lt. George H. Derby, a West Point graduate and engineer of the United States Topographical Corps, in San Diego? To survey the San Diego River and build a dike that would divert its water into False Bay–now Mission Bay.

While in San Diego, he and his wife rented a prefabricated house that was originally brought by ship around Cape Horn. Learn all about the Derby-Pendleton House’s complex history here. It has had many owners, including William Heath Davis and Don Juan Bandini, and has been moved repeatedly.

You can see an historical marker concerning Derby Dike here. You might note that the marker was placed by Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus.

The San Diego chapter of E Clampus Vitus, “a fraternal organization dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of the American West,” is named after Derby’s pseudonym, Squibob. The motto of Clampers is Credo Quia Absurdum, which purportedly means “I believe it because it is absurd.”

In 1962 an historical plaque was placed on The Derby-Pendleton House by the San Diego chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution. I took a photo of it yesterday.

Public domain photo of Lieutenant George Horatio Derby.
From the book cover of Phoenixiana.

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America’s most haunted house is improved!

The Whaley House in San Diego’s historic Old Town is widely considered to be America’s most haunted house.

I found out today that even a world-famous haunted house can be greatly improved!

As I walked around The Whaley House Museum, I noticed workers constructing new outdoor pathways. When I asked, I was told the improved paths will now be ADA compliant. I also learned the historic structure has a new coat of paint and that several of the exhibits inside, including the kitchen, have been recently altered and made even more intriguing! And, yes, that sign in the above photo is new, too!

Sounds like another visit is required!

Over four years ago I took a tour of the Whaley House, whose rich history might actually be more interesting than all the supposed ghost sightings. If you’d like to see inside photos and learn more about the Whaley House, including why it is so famous, check out that old blog post 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!

The stately Leroy Wright House in Golden Hill.

During the late 19th century, Golden Hill was an affluent neighborhood at the east edge of downtown San Diego. Wander its streets today and you’ll encounter countless old Victorian homes and mansions, some a bit decayed, others gloriously restored.

I was walking up B Street recently when my eyes were arrested by one stately building fronted with impressive, two story tall Greek columns. I’d discovered the Leroy Wright House.

The Leroy Wright House was built in 1898. It was designed for California State Senator Leroy Wright by the Quayle Brothers, prominent architects at the time. Its unmistakeable architectural style is Classical Revival.

If you’d like to see more San Diego buildings that were designed by the Quayle Brothers, who are probably most remembered for historic, now vanished Balboa Stadium, you can 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!

The fantastic Silver Ship house in La Jolla!

Perhaps you’ve seen that very unusual house perched high on a hillside in La Jolla. You can’t miss it when you drive west down Nautilus Street.

It was designed by Eugene Ray, a San Diego State University professor who taught Environmental Design from 1969 to 1996. He found his inspiration from UFOs and natural, organic shapes!

The house is called the Silver Ship.

Back in 1978, five SDSU students set to work building the unique structure. You can read about the project and see photographs of the construction on Eugene Ray’s blog here. For years it was his La Jolla home and studio.

I first learned about the Silver Ship in 2019 at an exhibition of Eugene Ray’s work at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Like many of his designs, it’s form is simple and symmetric and consequently unusual. He observed a UFO in his youth, and it influenced his architectural concepts throughout his life. See more of his groundbreaking designs, learn more of his unique story, and see blueprints of the fantastic Silver Ship by visiting my old blog post here!

When you compare these to the original photographs, you can see how the Silver Ship appears different today. If I recall correctly, a new owner redesigned the house somewhat. Interesting that now it appears a little more like a . . . silver ship!

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!

Building a cannon carriage and adobe walls in Old Town.

Saturday, on my way to TwainFest, I walked a little around Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to see what I might see.

At the blacksmith shop, wood shop and nearby grounds, I observed some interesting activity!

First, I learned from Todd in the blacksmith shop that a new carriage for Old Town plaza’s historic cannon will soon be built! I blogged about this project back in April here. I detail a little about the cannon’s history in that blog post.

Todd showed me how he had removed some of the original iron fittings from the wooden carriage. All of the iron will be saved, then refitted to a brand new carriage once it’s built. Welds will be hidden to preserve the original appearance.

The carriage will be constructed in the wood shop, a small work room attached to the blacksmith shop.

Here are a few photos of the wood shop…

Then I noticed two people working in the dirt area outside the blacksmith shop, behind Seeley Stable. This is the new spot in the State Park where adobe wall-making is demonstrated.

I’ve been told the old adobe demonstration area, which I blogged about here, will be used in the future for a Kumeyaay interpretive display.

As I watched slimy fingers jam mud mortar between large sun-dried adobe blocks, I took a look at information concerning which structures in Old Town are original adobes, and which ones are reconstructed.

Six original adobe buildings shown are: Casa de Machado y Silvas, c. 1843; Casa de Machado y Stewart, c. 1830; Casa de Estudillo, c. 1827; Casa de Bandini/Cosmopolitan Hotel, c. 1829; Altamirano-Perdrorena House, c. 1869; and the oldest structure in San Diego, Casa de Carrillo (between Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and the Presidio), c. 1817.

Reconstructed adobe buildings are: Robinson-Rose Building, c. 1853; Casa de Wrightington, c. 1804; San Diego House, c. 1841; Casa de Rodriguez, c. 1830; Colorado House (Adobe Annex), c. 1854; Casa de Alvarado, c. 1830; and Alvarado Saloon, c. 1830.

Typical adobe wall construction involved a foundation and a layer of small stones and shards topped by adobe bricks, which are cemented with lime and sand or mud plaster.

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!

The historic William Clayton House in Bankers Hill.

Those entering Balboa Park from Bankers Hill might notice this beautiful old house at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street. During my walks I’ve often wondered about it.

After doing a little research, I discovered it’s called the William Clayton House. It was designed in 1907 by San Diego’s first female architect, Hazel Wood Waterman.

Hazel Wood Waterman got her start as one of renowned architect Irving J. Gill’s two chief draftspeople. With a particular love for the Arts and Crafts style, she would eventually design a number of houses and buildings around San Diego. Her most famous work was the 1910 restoration of the Casa de Estudillo in Old Town, a commission that came from John D. Spreckels.

You can learn more about Hazel Wood Waterman here.

The William Clayton House barely avoided demolition almost thirty years ago. You can read about that here. Today it is San Diego Historic Landmark #270 and location of the Vista Balboa Crisis Center.

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!

History and beauty at Magee Park in Carlsbad.

Magee Park in Carlsbad is a special place where both history and beauty thrive.

I enjoyed a walk through the park recently, pausing frequently to admire its several historical structures.

Everywhere I walked, it seemed, beds of roses greeted me. Magee Park’s rose garden is so beautiful and extensive that the American Rose Society called Carlsbad “An American Rose City” in 2002.

The centerpiece of the park is the 1887 Magee House, a handsome Craftsman-style house built by Samuel Church Smith, one of the founders of Carlsbad Land and Water Company. Today it is home to the Carlsbad Historical Society and their museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed when I walked past. Read more about the Magee House’s history here.

Other historic structures in Magee Park include the Shipley-Magee Barn, Heritage Hall, the Twin Inns Granary and the Twin Inns Gazebo.

During my meandering walk, I photographed many of the informative signs and plaques that I came upon.

During Carlsbad’s agricultural past a variety of barn styles were constructed.
The barn at Magee Historical Park is the oldest Carlsbad barn in existence. This sign on the barn’s side details its history, and tells a little about the life of Florence Shipley and her husband Hugh Magee.
Vast areas of present day Carlsbad were once used to raise cattle and horses.
Heritage Hall in Carlsbad, California.

HERITAGE HALL

HERITAGE HALL WAS BUILT IN 1926 AS THE ORIGINAL SANCTUARY OF ST. PATRICK’S CATHOLIC CHURCH. IN 1952 IT BECAME CARLSBAD’S FIRST CITY HALL AND POLICE STATION; IN THE 1960’S THE FIRST LIBRARY, THE FIRST CHILDREN’S LIBRARY AND LATER A BALLET STUDIO. IN 1979 THE HALL WAS MOVED TO ITS PRESENT SITE WITH THE HELP OF FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY, THE CARLSBAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY, AND VOLUNTEERS. IT IS NOW A COMMUNITY MEETING HALL.

The Twin Inns Granary.

THE TWIN INNS GRANARY

ORIGINALLY BUILT BY EDDIE KENTNER, PROPRIETOR OF THE WORLD FAMOUS CARLSBAD TWIN INNS, THIS GRANARY WAS DONATED TO THE CITY OF CARLSBAD BY NEIMAN’S VILLAGE FAIRE AND MOVED TO MAGEE PARK IN 1985. IT WAS RESTORED THROUGH THE GENEROUS ASSISTANCE OF THE CARLSBAD EVENING ROTARY CLUB.

Now I’ve begun to walk around the Magee House…

A time capsule in front of the Magee House placed by the Carlsbad Historical Society. It will be opened July 4, 2076, our nation’s Tricentennial.
Roses by the Magee House’s welcoming veranda.
Circular patio with birdbath beside the Magee House. More roses.
The old Twin Inns Gazebo nearby.
Continuing my walk around the Magee House.

As I walked through wide, grassy Magee Park, I noticed it has several trees with dedication plaques.

I found three of them…

25 years of friendship with sister city Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
In loving memory of Doris A. Gordon.
Mary Jane Joseph. Proud resident of Carlsbad.

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!