Historical mural at new AC Hotel in San Diego!

A large new mural was finished several days ago in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter!

The permanent mural, which can be seen from Fifth Avenue, decorates the north side of the luxury, seven story AC Hotel by Marriott Gaslamp San Diego, which is presently under construction.

The image is inspired by historical photographs and represents the nearby stretch of Fifth Avenue as it appeared in the 1890s.

The tall building depicted on the left side of the mural is the Louis Bank of Commerce Building, which in the late 1800’s became home to the Oyster Bar, one of four saloons and gambling halls operated by Wyatt Earp when he lived in San Diego

The mural’s artists are Swank, Asylm and Vogue, from I.C.U. Art out of Los Angeles.

Awesome!

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Botanical Building’s deconstruction continues!

Out with the old first. Later in with the new!

The iconic 1915 Botanical Building in Balboa Park is in the process of being rebuilt. Three months ago I took a few photographs of some early “deconstruction” activity. Since then more of the lath structure near the ground has been removed, and the building looks increasingly skeletal!

I walked around the Botanical Building’s construction fence today and took these photos. You can contrast them with the photos I took in February here. That older blog post also provides some interesting details concerning this very important, historic project!

You can see how the Lily Pond directly adjacent to the structure has been drained.

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!

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Photos of the historic Old Scripps Building.

Enjoy a few photographs of the historic Old Scripps Building, at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.

Today the building is referred to as the George H. Scripps Memorial Marine Biological Laboratory. Located on the oceanfront campus a short distance south of the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, it stands next to a grassy area called Pawka Green.

Built 1909-1910, the Old Scripps Building was the original home of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which back then was called the Marine Biological Laboratory. The rather modest building (in which founder and director William Emerson Ritter and his wife also lived) contained research laboratories, offices, and even a public aquarium.

Today, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has grown into a world-famous campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and is part of the University of California, San Diego.

The two-story Old Scripps Building might appear plain at first glance, but look again. The simple, elegant building was designed by none other than renowned architect Irving Gill. His pioneering Modernist designs often integrated simple lines and pure forms. In Southern California’s brilliant sunshine, his spaces are light-filled and welcoming. He also pioneered the use of reinforced concrete. This building is one such example.

In 1982 the Old Scripps Building, due to its historical importance, was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The adjacent Pawka green is dedicated to Steven Sitter Pawka, Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography coastal oceanographer and waterman. His sophisticated observations and numerical models improved prediction of coastal waves throughout the world.

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!

Lakeside history on signs at Lindo Lake.

Lindo Lake in Lakeside has been the center of much interesting history. Should you walk past the restrooms near the southwest corner of Lindo Lake County Park, by the intersection of Woodside Avenue and Chestnut Street, you’ll likely notice information signs describing historical locations that are visible to curious eyes.

I paused to read each sign during my last Lakeside visit, then turned my camera in the direction indicated to capture a little of the history.

The Whitaker House is a stone building at the top of a prominent hill within the Lakeside Linkage County Preserve. Its design was inspired by architect Mary Jane Colter, whose buildings in the Grand Canyon include the Desert View Watchtower and the Hopi House. The style is known as National Park Service rustic architecture.

The Lakeside Inn, built by the El Cajon Valley Land Company in 1887 and demolished in 1920, was located near today’s post office building. This “Coronado of the Hills” boasted grand Victorian architecture, electricity, gaslights and running water.

Between 1906 and 1917, a 60 foot wide, 2 mile racetrack circled Lindo Lake. It was built by John H. Gay, who purchased the Lakeside Inn in 1904.

Famous drivers who raced on this historic track included legendary Barney Oldfield. One of the racetrack’s turns can be seen beyond the baseball field, where Chestnut Street turns to Lindo Lane.

The Lindo Lake Boathouse was built in 1887 on what was then a lagoon–the only natural lake in all of San Diego County. It has been moved several times and now sits on an artificial island.

Lindo Lake was originally fed by mountain streams. When subdividing their 3000-acre Lakeside Town site, the El Cajon Valley Land Company designated the lake and surrounding area as a public park.

In 1919 a court ruled the park, that had been claimed by Lakeside Inn owner John H. Gay, in fact belonged to the public. To celebrate, a blimp landed by the lake on July 5, 1920.

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!

Huge hole in Balboa Park’s Botanical Building!

Walk around the Balboa Park’s historic Botanical Building and you might do a double take. Because a huge hole is now open at the east end, allowing people to look into the monumental building’s interior!

I paused for a moment and took these photos over the construction fence. You can see how the old garden walkways have vanished, leaving the trees and plants rising from bare soil.

If you’d like to read about the Botanical Building and Gardens Restoration and Enhancement Project, and see artist renderings and historical photographs, click here.

Much of the work will repair damage “due to termite damage, rust and deferred maintenance.” The iconic Botanical Building will be restored to its original 1915 appearance. Amenities will also be added, like new restrooms, and a historically recreated pergola near its west end.

The Botanical Building is one of four structures built for the 1915 Panama California Exposition that were meant to be permanent. But after more than a century, a little tender loving care for one of the largest wood lath structures in the world is required!

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!

La Mesa’s famous movie history remembered!

In the early 20th century, La Mesa was home to the American Film Manufacturing Company. Some of the most popular movies of the time were filmed around San Diego!

The historic Wolf Building, at 8360 La Mesa Boulevard, has a plaque that recalls how the city was a pioneer in early motion pictures. The American Film Manufacturing Company made this new building and adjacent lot its home from August 1911 to July 1912. They created over one hundred “Flying A” Western “one-reelers” while in La Mesa…

According to this Wikipedia article, Flying “A” made over 150 films in San Diego County. The films were usually western adventures, comedies or an occasional local documentary…

The popular movie actors would make appearances at La Mesa parades and public events.

I’ve photographed the Wolf Building as it appears today. The Corner Store shoppers who haven’t read the nearby plaque probably don’t realize they’re experiencing a bit of motion picture history!

Also, I’ve posted two public domain images. The advertisements from the American Film Manufacturing Company are dated a few years after the studio departed La Mesa for Santa Barbara.

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 beauty in one magical place.

One of our city’s most magical indoor spaces can be found floating above San Diego Bay. Those who’ve stepped onto the passenger deck of the historic ferryboat Berkeley know what I’m talking about.

People once crossed San Francisco Bay in style. That’s where this old steam ferry originated. Now the Berkeley makes its home at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and those who visit its elegant interior are in for a treat. Especially during the holiday season.

I hadn’t planned on blogging today, but during a short walk between winter showers my feet carried me to the museum. The Christmas decorations inside the Berkeley simply had to be photographed.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll have to wait another year for Christmas, so what better time to post these photos?

Happy Holidays!

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!

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!

A look inside the historic Warner-Carrillo Ranch House.

One of San Diego County’s most important historical sites can be visited in Warner Springs. The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, built in 1857, is a National Historic Landmark maintained by SOHO, the San Diego-based Save Our Heritage Organisation.

The “Ranch House at Warner’s” preserves centuries of history. You can read a bit about the site and see some old photographs at this SOHO web page.

The adobe ranch house “represents Mexican and American culture contact during the Mexican Republic; the Frontier period of the westward migration; and the Gold Rush and the cattle ranching industry from 19th century Californio to 20th century to today.” Built beside the emigrant trail, many early settlers wrote about their experiences here.

Last weekend I visited the restored adobe. I went for a special reason. One day every year at Warner’s Ranch, visitors can ride an authentic Concord stagecoach down a short stretch of the old Overland Trail. For several years, from 1858 to 1861, the ranch house served as a Butterfield Overland Stage Station. Thousands of passengers stopped for a few minutes at this swing station as they travelled through the region. If you’d like to see photos from my fun stagecoach ride, click here!

The present structure, maintained today as a museum, was built by Doña Vicenta Sepúlveda de Carrillo, an early Californio woman rancher. It consists of two main rooms and several adjacent smaller rooms that were added in later years. One of the main rooms was the sala, or living room. The other served as a trading post–a small store where travelers could purchase necessities during their brief stopover.

Some of the smaller rooms include bedrooms and a kitchen, which featured a family bathtub, as you’ll see in my photos! The adobe walls are 18 inches thick, providing a cool inside temperature on a hot day. There’s also a pleasant veranda, where musicians were playing the day I visited. The veranda was built at the front of the ranch house, which faced the old stage route. As I understand it, the nearby barn, which SOHO also plans to restore, was for ranch horses and carriages.

Please enjoy these photos. I took few notes, and I’m no expert, so please don’t rely on anything I’ve written here as absolute fact. Do your own research. The history of the ranch is complex. Over the years it had many different owners.

One more interesting thing. The original Warner’s Ranch was established on a Mexican land grant given to Johnathan Trumbull Warner, an American-Mexican citizen and former California State Senator who changed his name to Juan José Warner. His ranch, a camping stop on the Gila Overland Trail to California, was attacked during the Garra Uprising of 1851. I photographed the burial site of Antonio Garra in Old Town San Diego and provided a brief description of the Native American Cupeño revolt due to unfair taxation here.

The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House is open year-round on Saturday and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm. If you’re ever in the area, make sure to stop by. Not only will you learn much, but you’ll feel the rich history!

Approaching the restored Warner-Carrillo Ranch House. (Interesting note: that brown modern structure to the left of the old ranch house contains visitor restrooms. I learned from Christopher Pro of SOHO that the restroom building design was copied from the historic Stein Family Farm in National City!)

The historical plaque near the museum entrance reads:

WARNER RANCH HOUSE

IN 1844, GOV. MANUEL MICHELTORENA GRANTED 44,322 ACRES TO JUAN JOSE WARNER WHO BUILT THIS HOUSE. GEN. KEARNY PASSED HERE IN 1846; MORMON BATTALION IN 1847. FIRST BUTTERFIELD STAGE STOPPED AT THIS RANCH ON OCT. 6, 1858 ENROUTE FROM TIPTON, MO. TO SAN FRANCISCO; 2600 MILES, TIME 24 DAYS. THIS WAS THE SOUTHERN OVERLAND ROUTE INTO CALIFORNIA.

STATE REGISTERED LANDMARK NO. 311

A major restoration of the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House was completed in 2011. The ranch stands on land owned by the Vista Irrigation District.

The Vista Irrigation District has a really good web page concerning the ranch house and its history here.

Inside the sala, or living room, with its dining table. Some of the elegant furniture was obtained from William Heath Davis, who helped to establish “New Town” (present day downtown) San Diego.
A quilt being made in one corner of the sala.
The sala in later years became a ranch bunkhouse, which explains why the wood floor is branded!
A work room between the sala and veranda.
A bedroom.
A look inside the kitchen.
How’d you like to take a bath here?!
A look inside the children’s bedroom.
The trading post offered goods to stagecoach travelers, who’d enter from a side door, which is located opposite the old barn.
Soap, a bonnet, and other useful items.
One small room contains information displays and archaeological artifacts from the ranch.
A look at the old barn, which is presently in a state of arrested decay.
On this special once-a-year stagecoach riding day, musicians were out on the veranda playing popular tunes from the Old West. The group is called Jugless Jug Band.
Some visitors enjoying a short ride on the authentic Concord stage.

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!

Stagecoach ride at the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House!

Today I had the opportunity to experience something amazing in Warner Springs.

Once a year, at the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, people can ride an authentic stagecoach a short distance down an actual, historic stage line route!

Such a ride can be experienced nowhere else in the entire country!

I purchased a ticket for a stagecoach ride a couple weeks ago before it sold out, then drove up to the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House in Warner Springs this morning to enjoy the short but memorable adventure!

Warner’s Ranch back in the 19th century was a swing stop for the Butterfield Overland Mail stage line. According to the event website, “The Butterfield Overland stage transported thousands of passengers across the United States years prior to the Civil War as California’s first regular overland stage connection with St. Louis.

Travelers, packed elbow to elbow in solidly-built, relatively “elegant” Concord Coaches, would stop at the ranch house to rest and stretch their legs and sore bodies for a few minutes while new horses were brought up from the nearby barn. Passengers could buy useful items in the ranch’s one-room trading post before resuming their dusty, bumpy journey.

This afternoon I and other excited passengers got to actually experience a few minutes of that dusty, very bumpy overland journey!

If you live in Southern California, or plan to visit, I highly recommend going on this once-every-year stagecoach ride. You’ll also enjoy an in-depth tour of the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, which is operated by the Save Our Heritage Organisation. SOHO’s mission in San Diego County is the “preservation of architecturally and historically significant structures, sites, and cultural landscapes.”

Okay! You want to see what the ride is like? Here we go!

Approaching the entrance of the historic Carrillo Ranch House at Warner’s Ranch, a National Historic Landmark.
I arrived early and will be on the first ride of the day. But no horses yet.
Here they come!
Two beautiful horses will pull the genuine Concord Coach, which is owned by the Save Our Heritage Organisation. I believe I heard the horses are Clydesdales. (UPDATE! I see on the SOHO website these were Belgian Draft horses.)
Another passenger waits as the horses are hooked up.
I’m pretty sure they didn’t have aluminum ladders like this a century and a half ago!
American eagle on side of the historic red Concord Coach, with E. Pluribus Unum.
Four passengers will sit inside the coach for this short journey.
Here’s my ticket!
We managed to squeeze into the small coach and here we go!
Looking at the countryside beyond an outside stagecoach lantern.
Looking out the other window at oak trees.
Were going down the actual historic stage route. It’s dusty and bumpy! A few sudden lurches took me by surprise–like some sort of amusement park ride!
Mountains and cattle in the distance.
I did say dusty!
What’s this? Armed robbers!
The stagecoach driver threw down the Army payroll. The passengers got off easy.
We are allowed to continue back to our stage stop.
Yes, the experience is fun!
It’s over far too soon.
Another group of passengers is ready to go!
There they go!

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!