A visit to the Encinitas Historical Society schoolhouse.

A one-room schoolhouse stands on a hilltop in San Diego’s North County, a very short distance from the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The old schoolhouse is the home of the Encinitas Historical Society, and I paid a visit last Saturday.

The historic schoolhouse, built in 1883, is the oldest building in Encinitas.

While its outward appearance is modest, step through a door and you’ll find the schoolhouse is roomy and welcoming. The wood floors are original. The bright walls are alive with photographs depicting the history of both the schoolhouse and early Encinitas–the residents, town buildings and few landmarks.

In 1883, with the arrival of a family from England, the population of Encinitas swelled to a whopping twenty two. The newly arrived father (a cabinetmaker) and his seventeen-year-old son built the schoolhouse primarily from redwood.

Today, the museum-like schoolhouse contains student desks from the period, but I learned the very first desks, due to lack of funds, were actually irregular things made of cut tree limbs. Slate boards were used for writing and arithmetic. Children who attended the school in those early days of Encinitas came from farms. Some walked as far as two miles.

The history of the schoolhouse is a bit complicated. Over the years changes and additions were made to the structure . . . it was moved in 1928 and became a private residence for half a century . . . it was saved in 1983 by the Encinitas Historical Society and moved back to its original location . . . and finally, it was restored and in 1995 opened to the public.

Visitors who peruse the many photographs and descriptions decorating the schoolhouse walls will feel they’ve travelled back in time. And perhaps to another world.

After looking at many of the displays, I joined a small group that had gathered for a once-every-two-month historical walking tour of Encinitas. I will be blogging about that great tour shortly!

The following photographs are a little of what I saw outside and inside the schoolhouse. To learn much more about this special place, and to perhaps plan your own visit, please check out the Encinitas Historical Society website by clicking here!

I also learned they’d appreciate any donations!

A plaque displayed near the chalkboard is dedicated to the Encinitas Boathouses. One block south of the schoolhouse, two unique cottages that appear like boats can be seen during a walking tour offered by the Encinitas Historical Society.
Encinitas Schoolhouse Grades One through Eight. 1883.
Concrete Highway 101. Two lane road to Los Angeles. 1913.
A craft fair was being held outside the old Encinitas schoolhouse the Saturday I visited. Beyond the parked cars you can see nearby Pacific View Elementary, closed since 2003.
Alone, at the very top of the hill stands the small one-room schoolhouse. A little beyond the hill stretches the Pacific Ocean.

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!

An octagonal Chinese-Mexican building in La Mesa.

One of the most distinctive buildings in La Mesa can be found in MacArthur Park. The designated historic landmark, located at 4910 Memorial Drive, is called Porter Hall.

This small octagonal building, built by the Porter family in the late 1920’s, has an unusual tile roof that appears a little Chinese and a little Mexican. The roof’s exotic contours are explained by the fact that Henry and Elizabeth Chapin Porter had previously lived in China.

From 1932 to 1957 Porter Hall served as a San Diego County library.

Prior to 1974 the original octagonal structure stood on the other side of University Avenue. It was moved when the street was widened. Today the enlarged building is home of the Foothills Art Association.

When I walked past Porter Hall a couple weekends ago, I took these photographs. Some artwork could be seen from the sidewalk, including a beautiful mosaic bench with a colorful parrot. A plaque dedicates the bench to Katherine Faulconer.

You can learn more about La Mesa’s influential Porter family by reading page 5 of an old La Mesa Historical Society publication here.

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Gravestones at Pioneer Park in Mission Hills.

Pioneer Park is a city park in Mission Hills that’s popular with neighborhood families and children. It features a playground, green grass, many shady trees . . . and well over a thousand unseen graves. If you don’t wander into the southeast corner of the park, you might never know it’s also a cemetery.

Pioneer Park was originally Calvary Cemetery. The Catholic cemetery was established in the 1870s, then converted a century later into a Mission Hills community park. According to this article: “All the 800-odd memorial markers were taken away in the 1970s except for a line of tombstones left on the park’s edge. Left as a memorial, they’re still there…” Sadly, the gravestones that had been removed were callously dumped by those then living into a ravine at distant Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Many of San Diego’s earliest residents remain buried under the grass at Pioneer Park. Even after the passage of many years, surviving gravestones show historically important names like Cave Johnson Couts and Father Antonio Ubach. But all of the names are gradually fading away. Time does that.

Six nearby plaques list the names of those who are interred in the park, and it is said there might be many more.

On any given day, life goes on cheerfully above the grass. And beneath it lie the remains of those who once lived, dreamed, toiled and loved exactly like you and me.

Here are some photographs, to provoke thought, and to help preserve a little history…

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A walk around the Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista.

The Rancho Guajome Adobe is an architecturally and historically important 19th century ranch house located in Vista, California. I visited it a little over a week ago and walked around the grounds, learning about the fascinating history of the place while taking a few photographs.

I approached the Guajome Ranch House from the Santa Fe Trail to its south, then circled counterclockwise around the complex, viewing the beautiful arcaded veranda, several cisterns fed by wells, the chapel, and other outbuildings. I spotted various signs and plaques relating the history of the ranch, which was once the home of prominent early San Diego resident Cave Johnson Couts and his wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini.

As you can see, I also stepped into a small museum. That’s where you can purchase tickets to guided and self-guided house tours.

According to Wikipedia: “The adobe was built in 1852 and served as the headquarters of Rancho Guajome, a Mexican land grant. Abel Stearns had given the rancho to Ysidora Bandini (sister of his wife Arcadia Bandini), as a wedding gift when she married Lieutenant Cave Johnson Couts in 1851. It was built with the profits from the cattle boom of the 1850s, when many California ranchos supplied the Gold Rush miners and associated new American immigrants with meat and leather. Couts was appointed sub-agent for the native Luiseño people (San Luis Rey Mission Indians) in 1853. He used their labor to improve his properties in the area, including this one and nearby Rancho Buena Vista and Rancho Vallecitos de San Marcos…”

I didn’t venture inside the 22-room hacienda, but I most likely will at some future time. The old ranch house is located in Rancho Guajome Adobe County Park. Check out the parks website here to learn more.

The following photos provide a taste of what you’ll see should you visit this historic place.

Peering from the veranda through an open door…

The sign reads:

The Carriage Courtyard.

Imagine the activity here where Couts quartered his many servants. The ranch foreman lived next to the gate. Horse and equipment stalls, blacksmith shop, tack room, winery, olive vats and a jail made up the ranch service yard. 300 Indian laborers made the thousands of adobe brick to build the walls, and other materials came from the abandoned San Luis Rey Mission with permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

Guajome Ranch House has been designated a National Historic Landmark

This site possesses national significance commemorating the history of the United States of America

1970

National Park Service

United States Department of the Interior

Rancho Guajome

Formerly attached to Mission San Luis Rey, the 2,219 acre ranch passed through brief ownership by two mission Indians, then Don Abel Stearns, and into possession of Ysidora Bandini upon marriage to Col. Cave Johnson Couts. The adobe ranch house built in 1852-53, is one of the finest extant examples of the traditional Spanish-Mexican one-story hacienda with an inner-outer courtyard plan. It was acquired by San Diego County in 1973 for the Guajome Regional Park.

California registered Historical Landmark No. 940

Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation and Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus, April 26, 1981.

This El Camino Real Bell commemorates the trail of California missions established by the padres and honors the bell’s designer: Harrie Rebbecca Piper Smith Forbes

Dedicated by the Woman’s Club of Vista

9/21/96

At its beginning, Rancho Guajome was a working cattle ranch. Because the West was dry, cattle owners like Cave Couts would turn their cattle out on unfenced pastures. However, during this “open range” period, sometimes cattle from different ranchos intermixed, making it difficult to determine which cattleman owned which cattle. The branding iron was invented as a solution…

Cave Johnson Couts was born in 1821 in Springfield, Tennessee, and died in 1874 in San Diego at the Horton House. His wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini was born in 1828 in San Diego, was married in 1851 at the Casa de Bandini in Old Town (now the Cosmopolitan Hotel), and died in 1897 in Los Angeles.

Included in the museum display are Native work baskets, Southern California style, circa 19th century.

Rancho Guajome Adobe farm equipment included a farm wagon, breaking carts for training horses, a broadcast seeder, a sulky used for racing horses, and a four-bottom Stockton plow used to turn soil to prepare fields for planting.

In the past I blogged about the Colorado House, a two-story hotel that was built in Old Town San Diego in 1851 by the very same Cave Couts. Today it serves as the Wells Fargo History Museum. Read that here.

I’ve also blogged about the El Campo Santo cemetery grave of Juan Mendoza, who was shot in the back by Cave Couts. See that here. (During one walk I spotted another mysterious wooden tombstone with the name Juan Mendoza by a parking lot, across the San Diego River from Old Town. Read that 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!

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A walk past historical buildings in Solana Beach.

Walk along Highway 101 in Solana Beach and you might notice a series of plaques describing historical buildings.

During my most recent adventure in Solana Beach, I took photos of several buildings and plaques immediately south and north of Plaza Street/Lomas Santa Fe Drive. This stretch of highway was the coastal town’s main street a century ago.

To learn more about these and other historical buildings, and to view a variety of interesting old photographs, visit this page of the Solana Beach Civic And Historical Society. They’re the ones who created the plaques.

This first batch of photos is from the 100 south block of Highway 101. All of these small, modest buildings are now home to local businesses, including an eatery and salon.

Stanley Estes’ Radio Service Shop, 1931.
Howard and Irene Witmer’s Sandwiches, Fountain and Sundries, 1927.
Ira E. Conner’s Meats, Groceries, Hardware and Dry Goods, 1925.
Claude E. Miles’ Solana Beach Meat Market, 1926.
William and Angie Kurtz’s Solana Beach Drug Store, 1928.

The next three photographs were taken on the 200 north block of Highway 101…

Ray Hobberlin’s Barber Shop and Residence, 1948.

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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A walk around El Cajon’s Knox House Museum.

A few weeks ago, during my adventure in El Cajon, I walked around the Knox House Museum, which was closed at the time. I took a number of photographs of the historic structure, and the gazebo in small, grassy Judson Park to the north.

The Knox House Museum is operated by the El Cajon Historical Society. The building is a restoration of Amaziah Lord Knox’s original two-story, seven room El Cajon Hotel, which was built in 1876 near the present day corner of Main Street and Magnolia Avenue. The building also served as the Knox residence. In later years the hotel was altered in various ways and greatly enlarged. In 1972 the City of El Cajon purchased the original building and moved it to its present location, at the corner of Magnolia and Park Avenue.

To learn much, much more about the old hotel, the present day museum, and the history of El Cajon, which began in earnest with the discovery of gold in Julian in 1870, visit the El Cajon Historical Society’s website here! Among other things, you’ll learn why the Knox House Museum is painted in such unusual colors!

I spotted this old gazebo in Judson Park, across Park Avenue…

The plaque on the gazebo includes: In 1875 the bustling commerce of ore wagons, stage coaches and other traffic of the times passed this spot on route to and from San Diego and the gold mines of Julian. This land was later granted to the City of El Cajon by the C.S. Judson family…The gazebo was constructed by the El Cajon Historical Society…Dedicated July 26, 1992…This rose garden was presented to the people of El Cajon by the East County Rose Society…Dedicated November 2002…

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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

St. MATTHEWS EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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.

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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!

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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!