History and faith at St. Agnes Catholic Church.

On Saturday I stepped inside St. Agnes Catholic Church. It was one of three sites I visited in Point Loma during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

Donna Alves-Calhoun, author of the book Portuguese Community of San Diego, told me a little about the history of this church and the people whose lives are deeply linked to it.

I learned that an original church was built in 1908 by Portuguese fisherman families that had settled in La Playa, near the entrance to San Diego Bay. It was difficult for them to travel to Old Town or La Jolla to attend church services, so they built a small mission church in Point Loma.

In 1933 the new Mediterranean-style St. Agnes Catholic Church was built at the same location, using funds donated by the crews of local fishing boats.

The beautiful church’s bell tower was decorated with an illuminated statue of Our Lady of Good Voyage, which could be seen at a distance. Like a beacon it guided the Portuguese fishermen safely home. I also learned the extraordinary stained glass windows were made in Ireland, and the religious statues placed in corners of the church are from Italy.

After I moved around the church, looking up at the ceiling and its dark wooden beams painted faintly with tulips, Donna explained that many Dutch settled in the Azores. Like many who have descended from San Diego’s Portuguese fishermen, she herself possesses a measure of Dutch ancestry.

During the annual Festa do Espírito Santo celebration, a crown kept in a glass case near the altar, symbol of the supreme dominion of the Holy Spirit, is brought with other holy objects in a ceremonial procession from the U.P.S.E.S. Chapel and Hall to St. Agnes Catholic Church. The bringing of the “Coroa” remembers an historical gesture of compassion by Portugal’s beloved Santa Isabel, the Peacemaker and Holy Queen.

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Printing words about immigration at MCASD.

As I waited for a trolley at America Plaza early this afternoon, I thought I’d peer into a window of the Museum of Contemporary Arts San Diego. A gentleman inside saw and motioned for me to come on in!

I was welcomed by Max, a super nice Gallery Educator, who was applying ink to a silk screen. He was using screen printing to create bold messages in the Sanctuary Print Shop!

The project titled Sanctuary Print Shop is the brainchild of artists Sergio De La Torre and Chris Treggiari. The idea of this exhibition is to start conversations concerning the very topical and divisive issue of immigration. People are encouraged to write their thoughts about immigration, and messages are created to paper one wall.

Even though there’s a certain political bias to the exhibition, Max did agree that it’s a complex human issue. There are many different thoughts concerning it. And it’s an issue with many personal connections.

Human creativity and the written word fascinate me, so I enjoyed meeting Max, watching him at work, and reading what others have said!

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Photos of Little Italy’s new Piazza Giannini.

The new Piazza Giannini, at the corner of India and Cedar Street in downtown San Diego.
The new Piazza Giannini, at the corner of India and Cedar Street in downtown San Diego.

A new public space opened last month in downtown’s Little Italy neighborhood. Piazza Giannini, located at the corner of India Street and West Cedar Street, is a community gathering place that pays tribute to a famous Italian American who invented many of the conveniences of modern banking.

Born in San Jose, A.P. Giannini was a big believer in California. He started the Bank of Italy in San Francisco, and dedicated it to ordinary middle class Americans and hardworking immigrants that other banks wouldn’t serve. Believing in equal access to all, the Bank of Italy opened hundreds of branches throughout the state. Eventually it became Bank of America.

A sign at Piazza Giannini explains how donors can purchase plaques in this new public space.
A sign at Piazza Giannini explains how donors can purchase plaques in this new public space.
Amadeo P. Giannini was born in San Jose to Italian immigrants. He believed California and its citizens could lead the country to prosperity.
Amadeo P. Giannini was born in San Jose to Italian immigrants. He believed California and its citizens could lead the country to prosperity.
. . . we should bend increasing efforts to demonstrate the equality that underlies the American philosophy.
. . . we should bend increasing efforts to demonstrate the equality that underlies the American philosophy.
. . . No man actually ever owns fortune--it owns him.
. . . No man actually ever owns fortune–it owns him.
Serving the needs of others is the only legitimate business today.
Serving the needs of others is the only legitimate business today.
A streetlamp banner in San Diego's Little Italy pays tribute to Amadeo Giannini, father of modern banking.
A streetlamp banner in San Diego’s Little Italy pays tribute to Amadeo Giannini, father of modern banking.
A banker should consider himself a servant of the people, a servant of the community.
A banker should consider himself a servant of the people, a servant of the community.
The bronze bust of Amadeo Pietro Giannini at Piazza Giannini in Little Italy.
The bronze bust of Amadeo Pietro Giannini at Piazza Giannini in Little Italy.

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Murals by Hugo Crosthwaite at Liberty Station.

A series of columns at Liberty Station have recently been painted with expressive murals by Mexican-born artist Hugo Crosthwaite, who works in both Mexico and the United States. The murals, which are located next to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and Liberty Public Market, are titled In Memoriam: Column A and Column B. I took some photographs during a recent walk around Liberty Station.

The murals touch one’s heart. A variety of emotions are depicted in the faces of people who live and move through our border city. There is happiness and pain, sadness and pride. There is fear and hope. These emotions are powerfully familiar, because at one time or another we all experience them.

A series of columns at Liberty Station have been painted by artist Hugo Crosthwaite.
A series of columns at Liberty Station have been painted by artist Hugo Crosthwaite.
Hugo Crosthwaite, Column A and Column B, 2018.
Hugo Crosthwaite, Column A and Column B, 2018.

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Refugee students learn job skills at city farm!

Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!
Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!

I was walking around North Park yesterday when I stumbled upon a small farm on a dirt lot north of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. I crossed 30th Street to see what was going on, and noticed a bunch of youth working the soil, and sitting at a table selling vegetables!

It turns out these super friendly new San Diego residents are refugees attending local high schools. As Youth FarmWorks interns they are learning job skills and gaining confidence in their new country. This urban farming project was created by the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees adjust to life in the United States, where they are safe and free from persecution.

I was given a tour of the small farm by a super cool young man–he’s the guy who gave me a thumbs up in that first photo! He showed me the various vegetables they were growing, including different types of lettuce, beets, squash, cherry tomatoes, and much more. My tour was awesome!

Good luck to everyone!

Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works - Job Training Urban Farm.
Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works – Job Training Urban Farm.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Kids at work on the urban farm.
Students at work on the urban farm.
A very cool smile!
A very cool smile!

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!

A taste of San Diego’s historic Little Portugal.

Design on tiles indicates Portuguese American Social and Civic Club.
Image on tiles indicates Portuguese American Social and Civic Club.

The history of the Portuguese community in Point Loma is fascinating. During a walk along a block of Avenida de Portugal, I got just a small glimpse of it.

Many have heard of Little Italy in San Diego, but I suspect few have heard of a neighborhood that some call Little Portugal. It can be found near the entrance to Shelter Island, an area settled by many families of Portuguese fishermen when the tuna industry flourished in our city. The neighborhood was once called Tunaville. Two landmarks that were built by the Portuguese almost a century ago still exist today: the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall where the community gathers and a small Catholic chapel beside it.

I spotted some round plaques in the sidewalk and images on tile on the hall’s exterior during my walk beside these two buildings. They provide a small taste of Little Portugal’s history. I thought you might enjoy taking a look at a few of them.

Small Catholic chapel in Point Loma, in a neighborhood sometimes called Little Portugal.
Small Catholic chapel in Point Loma, in a neighborhood sometimes referred to as Little Portugal.
Front of the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall on a sunny San Diego day.
Front of the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall on a sunny San Diego day.
Plaque in the sidewalk is a Tribute to our Immigrants. Determination, hard work and strength of character are only a few of the gifts you have given us.
Plaque in the sidewalk is a Tribute to our Immigrants. Determination, hard work and strength of character are only a few of the gifts you have given us.
In admiration of their loyalty and commitment to the Fishing Industry and never ending support of our Portuguese Community.
In admiration of their loyalty and commitment to the Fishing Industry and never ending support of our Portuguese Community.
Age of Exploration. In thoughtful memory of God and our parents who so successfully contributed to our Festas do Espirito Santo, the tuna industry and our lives in America.
Age of Exploration. In thoughtful memory of God and our parents who so successfully contributed to our Festas do Espirito Santo, the tuna industry and our lives in America.
The flag of Portugal flies proudly in San Diego near Shelter Island.
The flag of Portugal flies proudly in San Diego near Shelter Island.
Map of the island of Madeira and image of Santo Amaro.
Map of the island of Madeira and image of Santo Amaro.
Image of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's galleon San Salvador and his statue at Cabrillo National Monument, a gift from the government of Portugal. Exploring on behalf of Spain, Cabrillo was Portuguese.
Image of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador and his statue at Cabrillo National Monument, a gift from the government of Portugal. Exploring on behalf of Spain, Cabrillo was Portuguese.

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A glimpse of history at Mount Hope Cemetery.

I happened upon a few notable names during a walk through Mount Hope Cemetery. I had over an hour before the Memorial Day ceremony would begin, so I just wandered down winding roads through fields of headstones.

Many early residents of San Diego are buried at Mount Hope. Among the jumble of names engraved in stone, one can find some of the city’s most influential citizens. Like Alonzo Horton, Kate Sessions, George Marston, Thomas Whaley, Ah Quin, E. S. Babcock, and Robert Waterman. (Not to mention the famous author Raymond Chandler!) But I didn’t have a map. So I just meandered through the hilly cemetery and gazed.

Thousands of gravestones.

Every life different. Every life important in its own way.

Some of the dates indicate long lives, others short. But isn’t it true that all of our lives are short?

Someone asked about my visit–if the cemetery felt spooky. No. The best word that comes to mind is bittersweet. A feeling of both joy and sadness.

Every single name has become a part of San Diego history.

(I did a bit of research for this blog post. Hopefully I got the following information right. If not, leave a comment!)

George James Keating
George James Keating

George James Keating was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1840. He and his wife Fannie, owners of a farming company, eventually moved to San Diego in 1886. Keating made large investments in the city’s booming real estate market. After his death, Fannie oversaw the construction of the five-story Keating Building, which I blogged about several years ago here.

Graves of the Marston family.
Graves of the Marston family.
George White Marston
George White Marston

George W. Marston was often referred to as “San Diego’s First Citizen.”

A successful department store owner, he founded the San Diego Historical Society and was a prominent advocate for and planner of Balboa Park. He was a critical force in the establishment of the San Diego Public Library System and Presidio Park.

You can see a sculpture of George Marston on my blog here, and the garden of his beautiful, historic house, which is located in the northwest corner of Balboa Park, here.

George F. Stockton
George F. Stockton

Lt. George F. Stockton’s tragic drowning on August 21, 1921 prompted the creation of the City of Oceanside Lifeguard Service. He was pulled out to sea by a rip current. He had served on the World War I ship USS San Diego.

Edward McGurck
Edward McGurck

Col. Edward McGurck was born in Ireland. He purchased property on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street in 1876 for $50. In 1887 he developed the McGurck Block Building at that location.

Monument to the Kurtz family.
Monument to the Kurtz family.
Daniel Brower Kurtz
Daniel Brower Kurtz

Daniel Brower Kurtz has an important San Diego street named after him. He arrived in San Diego in 1850 and was elected second city mayor in 1851. He also served as a state senator, county judge, and assemblyman.

James Edward Friend
James Edward Friend

James Edward Friend was an enterprising reporter and newspaper publisher in the early days of San Diego.

Seeing his name brought a smile to my face. He was a good friend of Bum, San Diego’s Town Dog, and figured prominently in the wonderful book titled The Dog That Belonged to No One. Any young person living in San Diego should read this short book. It’s quite enjoyable, full of history and good humor.

Captain James Friend was also known as a friend and benefactor to San Diego’s newsboys.

You can read about Bum, San Diego’s lovable Town Dog, and see his sculpture in my 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!

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