Little Italy’s history, culture at Amici House.

Arriving at the historic Amici House, a cultural center in San Diego's downtown Little Italy neighborhood.
Approaching the historic Amici House, a cultural center in San Diego’s downtown Little Italy neighborhood.

In downtown San Diego’s beautiful Little Italy neighborhood, tucked among trees between Amici Park and the popular Little Italy Dog Park, one can find a small house that is named for friendship. It’s called Amici House.

A century ago the Amici House was home to the Giacalone family, who lived in Sicily before their arrival in San Diego in 1916. Antonio Giacalone and his wife, Josephine, became an integral part of the local Italian fishing community. Their modest Craftsman style house was originally located a few blocks to the west, near India Street. Last year the structure was moved to its present location at 250 W. Date Street, in order to make room for the new Piazza della Famiglia.

The historic home, now called the Amici House, has become a gathering place for the present-day community. Sheltered by graceful trees, its shady patio is the perfect place to relax, have a drink and chat with friends. Inside the house one can observe museum-like displays and learn about life in Little Italy, which was home to many immigrant fishermen back when San Diego was considered the tuna fishing capital of the world.

The Amici House is operated by The Convivio Society for Italian Humanities, a nonprofit organization that promotes Italian arts, culture and heritage in San Diego. The house with its intimate patio provides a unique venue for concerts and other entertainment. A variety of community activities such as outdoor movie screenings are often enjoyed in nearby Amici Park. The house can also be rented for private events.

I paid a visit on Saturday afternoon and took a few photos.

This grassy area in front of Amici House will soon be a venue for outdoor entertainment, with its own small stage.
This grassy area in front of Amici House will soon be a venue for outdoor entertainment, with its own small stage.
A group of people exits Amici House. I will be able to explore the place during a quiet moment on a Saturday afternoon.
A group of people exits Amici House. I will be able to explore the place during a quiet moment on a Saturday afternoon.
Steps lead up into the beautifully renovated Craftsman style Amici House.
Steps lead up into the small, renovated Craftsman style Amici House.
At the bottom of the front steps is a table with gifts. Caffè Convivio offers snacks and a few refreshing things to drink.
At the bottom of the front steps is a table with books and other gifts. Caffè Convivio offers snacks and a few refreshing things to drink.
Chairs and tables in front of Amici House provide a pleasant, shady place to relax on a sunny day.
Chairs and tables in front of Amici House provide a pleasant, shady place to relax on a sunny day.
This kinetic fish sculpture is popular with kids.
This kinetic fish sculpture is popular with kids.
After stepping into the small Amici House, I turned around and took a photo of old fishing artifacts above the door.
After stepping into the Amici House, I turned around and took a photo of old fishing artifacts above the door.
Photo into a large mirror on one wall provides a glimpse of the small museum-like interior.
Photo into a large mirror on one wall provides a glimpse of the small museum-like interior.
The walls inside the Amici House are full of historical photos and information concerning Little Italy, once center of a thriving tuna fishing industry.
The walls inside the Amici House are full of historical photos and information concerning Little Italy, once center of a thriving tuna fishing industry.
Posters, old photos and works of art with an Italian theme appear on all sides. I see Frank Sinatra.
Posters, old photos and works of art with an Italian theme appear on all sides. I see Frank Sinatra.
This small exhibition of art features work by sports fan and artist Christopher Paluso.
This small exhibition of art features work by sports fan and artist Christopher Paluso.
Examples of work by accomplished Italian American artist Christopher Paluso.
Examples of work by accomplished Italian American artist Christopher Paluso.
In a wooden cabinet I spied colorful gifts and crafts imported from Italy.
In a wooden cabinet I saw colorful glassware and crafts imported from Italy.
Painting of John D'Acquisto, Italian American baseball player who played four years with the San Diego Padres.
Painting of John D’Acquisto, Italian American baseball pitcher who played four years with the San Diego Padres.
Little Italy has a rich history, including many generations of families that still thrive in the community today.
Little Italy has a rich history, including many generations of families that still thrive in the community today.
I'm shown a rendering of a proposed, much larger cultural center that might be built by The Convivio Society elsewhere in Little Italy.
I’m shown a rendering of a proposed, much larger cultural center that might be built by The Convivio Society in the future.
Meanwhile, the Amici House is a repository of cherished memories for a lively and welcoming San Diego neighborhood.
Meanwhile, the Amici House holds (and produces) cherished memories for a lively San Diego neighborhood.

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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House in Little Italy celebrates Thanksgiving!

This morning during my walk to the Little Italy trolley station I was drawn to a couple of newly painted houses on State Street.

As I got nearer I noticed a fun display on one porch that celebrates Thanksgiving!

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!

Two ways to thank those who served and sacrificed.

Today I learned of two ways to thank military heroes who sacrificed part or all of their life in service to country.

I was walking through the Mustang Club of San Diego’s outdoor car show, checking out some of the displays, when I paused to speak to individuals representing two non-profit organizations: Homes For Our Troops and Final Honor.

Homes For Our Troops builds specially adapted custom homes for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans, enabling them to rebuild their lives. The specially designed homes contain features that assist heroes who have multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or traumatic brain injury.

There are 100 severely injured Veterans awaiting entry into their program. To learn more and perhaps make a donation, click here.

Final Honor provides a complimentary horse-drawn funeral carriage at Miramar National Cemetery. The dignified carriage is available for any Veteran, regardless of rank, whose family would like to enhance the memorial service for their loved one at no cost.

This beautiful, completely free service is made possible through private donations. To learn more and perhaps provide a helping financial hand, click here.

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Photos of restored rooms inside Casa de Estudillo.

Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park look into a restored room of La Casa de Estudillo.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park look into a restored room of La Casa de Estudillo.

Four years ago I posted photos of La Casa de Estudillo, a famous adobe house in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park that was originally built in 1827. That blog was called Ramona saved Casa de Estudillo in Old Town and concerned the fascinating history of this structure.

Over time various parts of the casa have undergone restoration and new rooms have opened up to public view. These rooms now appear furnished as they once might have been, in the very early days of San Diego.

I recently walked through La Casa de Estudillo and peered into a few of the rooms…

Sign describes the dining room of La Casa de Estudillo.
Sign describes the dining room of La Casa de Estudillo.
The eventual prosperity of the Estudillo family is reflected in their elegant dining room.
The eventual prosperity of the Estudillo family is reflected in their elegant dining room.
Expensive furniture and tableware imported by ship from distant places fill the otherwise simple room.
Expensive furniture and tableware imported by ship from distant places fill the otherwise simple room.
Sign describes commerce in the casa. Francisco de Paul Rodriguez rented space from the Estudillos for a store.
Sign describes commerce in the casa. Francisco de Paul Rodriguez rented space from the Estudillos for a store.
The store, or tienda, contained shelves of goods that might be purchased by the residents of Old Town San Diego. Much of the merchandise came by ship from the East Coast around Cape Horn.
The store, or tienda, contained shelves of goods that might be purchased by the residents of Old Town San Diego. Much of the merchandise came by ship from the East Coast around Cape Horn.
More shelves against one wall contain iron tools and basic furnishings like candlesticks for sale.
More shelves against one wall contain iron tools and basic furnishings like candlesticks for sale.
Sign describes how the Estudillos adapted to life on the frontier in the 1830's and 1840's.
Sign describes how the Estudillos adapted to life on the frontier in the 1830’s and 1840’s.
A bedroom inside La Casa de Estudillo contains a wealth of comfort, unusual in early San Diego, which was located far away from developed centers of commerce.
A bedroom inside La Casa de Estudillo contains a wealth of comfort, unusual in early San Diego, which was located far away from developed centers of commerce.
Several additional rooms at La Casa de Estudillo are undergoing restoration.
Several additional rooms at La Casa de Estudillo are undergoing restoration.
Sign describes how the casa started as a modest two-room structure and eventually grew into an expansive U-shaped building with a courtyard and outbuildings.
Sign describes how the casa started as a modest two-room structure and eventually grew into an expansive U-shaped building with a courtyard and outbuildings.
Photo of the Casa de Estudillo's tower from the central garden courtyard.
Photo of the Casa de Estudillo’s tower from the central garden courtyard.
Looking across the south end of the courtyard toward the outdoor oven and Seeley Stable beyond.
Looking across the south end of the courtyard toward the outdoor oven and Seeley Stable beyond.
Sign explains how the Estudillos cared for a growing family including many children.
Sign explains how the Estudillos cared for a growing family including many children.
Frozen Charlotte dolls, ca. 1850's. These china dolls were popular in the Victorian era.
Frozen Charlotte dolls, ca. 1850’s. These china dolls were popular in the Victorian era.
A look into the children's bedroom.
A look into the children’s bedroom.
Sign describes the Estudillo kitchen and pantry. The family's ranchos provided meat, game, vegetables and fruit.
Sign describes the Estudillo kitchen and pantry. The family’s ranchos provided meat, game, vegetables and fruit.
Jars, pots, sacks of flour and fruit are among the many items seen in the rather primitive kitchen.
Jars, pots, sacks of flour and fruit are among the many items seen in the rather primitive kitchen.
The kitchen inside La Casa de Estudillo provides an idea of what life might have been like in early San Diego.
The kitchen inside La Casa de Estudillo provides an idea of what life might have been like in early San Diego.

UPDATE!

Here are additional photos of information signs that I took in June 2019…

Sign showing architect Hazel Wood Waterman's design for the Casa de Estudillo includes photo of the Casa under construction.
Sign showing architect Hazel Wood Waterman’s design for the Casa de Estudillo includes a photo of the Casa under construction.
Four generations of the Estudillo family lived here between 1827 and 1887. Don José Maria Estudillo was former Comandante of the Presidio.
Four generations of the Estudillo family lived here between 1827 and 1887. Don José Maria Estudillo was former Comandante of the Presidio.
An Estudillo tradition of public service.
An Estudillo tradition of public service.
People living in San Diego in the 1800s struggled with natural disasters like torrential rains, floods, droughts, earthquakes and disease.
People living in San Diego in the 1800s struggled with natural disasters like torrential rains, floods, droughts, earthquakes and disease.
A display in the courtyard of the Casa de Estudillo.
A display in the courtyard of the Casa de Estudillo.
A place to grind wheat and corn. Members of the Mormon Battalion built a large adobe horse-mill near the Casa.
A place to grind wheat and corn. Members of the Mormon Battalion built a large adobe horse-mill near the Casa.

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!

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Top Gun House in Oceanside to be restored.

Photo from across North Pacific Street in Oceanside of the famous Top Gun house, an historical landmark that will be restored.
Photo from across North Pacific Street in Oceanside of the famous Top Gun House, an historical landmark that will be restored.

Today I headed up the coast to enjoy a walk around Oceanside.

During my small adventure I paused to look at Oceanside’s famous Top Gun House, which is located at the corner of North Pacific Street and Seagaze Drive. It’s the small beach house in the popular 1986 movie where Maverick ate dinner with his love interest Charlie.

A nearby sign provided some information about the house’s historical significance and planned restoration:

“Built in 1887 by Dr. Henry Graves as a vacation home, the Graves House is an ocean front Queen Anne Cottage and is now the “last best” existing such house in San Diego County, as recognized by SOHO (the Save Our Heritage Organization).

The house is best known by most people as the “Top Gun House” because of its prominent role in the movie of the same name. Scenes between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis were filmed here in 1985 and the popular movie was released in 1986.

Complete house restoration pending hotel development on this site.

Oceanside Historical Society.”

I spoke with a friendly Downtown Ambassador of MainStreet Oceanside at an information table by the foot of the Oceanside Pier, and she said there are plans to not only restore “Charlie’s House”, but to move it one block north, nearer the pier. That valuable oceanfront lot is also awaiting development.

The Top Gun beach house sits in a corner of a large empty lot that is awaiting development. A hotel will be built here, a block from the Oceanside Pier.
The Top Gun House sits in a corner of a large empty lot that is awaiting development. A hotel will be built here, a block from the Oceanside Pier.
A sign near the Top Gun house provides information for curious people walking past.
A sign near the Top Gun House provides information for curious people walking past.
On the front of the house is a classic Top Gun poster and a vintage photo of the house as it once looked, over a century ago.
On the front of the house is a classic Top Gun poster and a vintage photo of the house as it once looked, long ago.
Photo of the south side of the small Queen Anne style cottage.
Photo of the south side of the small Queen Anne style cottage.
The famous Top Gun beach house will be restored and enjoyed by the local community and the movie's many fans for years to come.
The famous Top Gun House will be restored and enjoyed by the local community and the movie’s many fans for years to come.

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!

Create a cool beehouse for your garden!

Anyone can create a cool beehouse for their garden. All you really need is a drill!
Anyone can create a beehouse for their garden. All you really need is a drill!

Before my hike through the Sweetwater Marsh on Saturday, I took a stroll through the Native Pollinator Garden just outside the Living Coast Discovery Center. After reading a variety of informative signs, I paused in the garden to look at some very cool beehouses!

As I read about the beehouses, it occurred to me these would be extremely easy to make.

I took photographs just in case anyone reading this blog would like to make a beehouse for their own garden! Read the captions to learn more about the habits of ground-dwelling solitary bees and the materials you can use to make them a beehouse!

The Native Pollinator Garden at the Living Coast Discovery Center includes some very cool beehouses!
The Native Pollinator Garden just outside the Living Coast Discovery Center includes a couple of very cool beehouses!
Bees are extremely important. More than two thirds of the world's crop species rely on pollinators.
Bees are extremely important. More than two thirds of the world’s crop species rely on pollinators.
A large Feed a Bee Pollinator Habitat in the native garden provides shelter for solitary bees and information for the curious.
A large Feed a Bee Pollinator Habitat in the native garden provides shelter for solitary bees and information for the curious.
The rear of this bee condo! Holes have been drilled in a variety of materials, including logs, lumber and bricks.
The rear of this bee condo! Holes have been drilled in a variety of materials, including logs, lumber and bricks.
Solitary bees don't live in colonies. They often seek out hollows of fallen logs, bark and branches. They make up a majority of the 4000 bee species in the United States.
Solitary bees don’t live in colonies. They often seek out hollows of fallen logs, bark and branches. They make up a majority of the 4000 bee species in the United States.
A close look at the fun beehouse. I think even I could make one of these.
A close look at the fun beehouse. I think even I could make one of these.
Creating various hiding places attracts solitary bees, which can be as small as an eighth of an inch.
Creating various hiding places attracts solitary bees, which can be as small as an eighth of an inch.
Feeling inspired? Handy with a hammer and nails? Make your beehouse into a cool work of art!
Feeling inspired? Handy with a hammer and nails? Fashion your beehouse into a unique work of art!

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!

Cool photos near South Mission Beach jetty.

People play on the sandy volleyball courts at South Mission Beach, north of the jetty.
People play on the sandy volleyball courts at South Mission Beach, north of the jetty.

Yesterday I walked through South Mission Beach near the jetty. I got lots of fun, sunny photos for you to enjoy!

Riding a bike through South Mission Beach on a perfect San Diego day.
Riding a bike through South Mission Beach on a perfect San Diego day.
The Mission Beach boardwalk, which passes many small colorful houses and condos, is popular with bicyclists and pedestrians.
The Mission Beach boardwalk, which passes many small colorful houses and condos, is popular with bicyclists and pedestrians.
One of the cool beachfront properties on South Mission Beach. Many are available as vacation rentals.
One of the cool beachfront properties on South Mission Beach. Many are available as vacation rentals.
A row of lifeguard towers. It's winter in San Diego. During the summer these lookouts will be arranged at intervals along the beach.
A row of lifeguard towers. It’s winter in San Diego. During the summer these lookouts will be arranged at intervals along the beach.
Heading south along the path, approaching the parking lot at the jetty.
Heading south along the path, approaching palm trees and the parking lot at the jetty.
A beautiful day for a bike ride.
A beautiful day for a bike ride.
These people have paused to look at the nearby grass.
These people have paused to look at the nearby grass.
Guys play in the sun at the basketball court.
Guys play in the sun at the basketball court.
On the beach, a lifeguard building with flag flapping in the sea breeze. Pacific Beach and La Jolla rise to the north.
On the beach, a lifeguard building with flag flapping in the sea breeze. Pacific Beach and La Jolla rise to the north.
Families walk and play on the shore. The surf is gentle today.
Families walk and play on the shore. The surf is gentle today.
A seagull hangs out on a dune as surfers come in. The South Mission Beach jetty juts into the Pacific Ocean.
A seagull hangs out on a dune as surfers come in. The South Mission Beach jetty juts into the Pacific Ocean.
Someone approaches the foot of the rock jetty, which guards the channel into Mission Bay. This area is also called Point Medanos.
Someone approaches the foot of the rock jetty, which guards the channel into Mission Bay. This cape is called Point Medanos.
I stopped at the lifeguard emergency sign. Halfway down the jetty stands an old, abandoned bait shack, which appears like an arch that is covered with graffiti.
I stopped at the lifeguard emergency sign. Halfway down the jetty stands an old, abandoned bait shack, which appears like an arch that is covered with graffiti.
Gulls wheel over the entrance channel as a boat comes into Mission Bay.
Gulls wheel over the entrance channel as a boat comes into Mission Bay.
Beyond this sailboat I see the Ocean Beach Pier.
Beyond this sailboat I see the long Ocean Beach Pier.
Point Loma rises beyond a second jetty that separates the entrance channel from the San Diego River.
Point Loma rises beyond a second jetty that juts from Hospitality Point, separating the Mission Bay entrance channel from the San Diego River.
People are also out and about in Ocean Beach enjoying the sunny day. I see a few pooches running about Dog Beach.
People are also out and about in Ocean Beach enjoying the sunny day. I see a few pooches running freely about Dog Beach.
Several fishermen were casting into the blue water from the rocks.
Several fishermen were casting into the blue water from the rocks.
Now I'm circling back on North Jetty Road heading for the boardwalk. A cool windblown tree and flowers in the sand.
Now I’m circling back on North Jetty Road heading for the boardwalk. A cool windblown tree and flowers in the sand.
Like paradise on Earth.
Like paradise on Earth.
I love this place!
I love this place!

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.