Tin Man recalls history in North Park!

Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park might notice a large tin man standing atop stairs in the museum’s atrium. A sign at the bottom of the stairs explains how the nearly 11 feet tall metal sculpture was once a well known landmark in North Park.

Created in 1941, “Tin Man” was originally unpainted and held an oil can instead of a wrench. Representing the Tin Woodsman character from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Tin Man was to be a feature of the North Park Toyland Parade. But the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor five days before the parade cancelled the event.

Tin Man subsequently was acquired by Sabol Service at University Avenue and Bancroft Street and for several decades, now holding a wrench, he towered above the automobile repair business. In 1976 he was moved to 35th Street and University Avenue, where, painted as he appears today, he greeted the customers of Vinal’s Auto Repair on the service station island.

As you can see, I took these photographs during the holiday season. Tin Man silently stood overlooking a large, very beautiful poinsettia Christmas tree–the first such tree to decorate the San Diego History Center.

And so our city’s history continues right along, the past meeting the present.

Perhaps you’re old enough to remember seeing Tin Man in North Park. After moving through the San Diego History Center, you will carry both old and new memories into your future.

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Lots of activity on San Diego’s waterfront!

Right now there is a whole lot of construction activity along downtown San Diego’s waterfront.

Today, during a walk along the Embarcadero, anyone could observe new buildings rising, an aircraft carrier’s hull being inspected, a cruise ship pier being reinforced, and an iconic San Diego landmark being painted!

First up, check out how quickly the buildings of the Research and Development District (RaDD) are rising!

The five new bayfront buildings will be grouped around the U.S. Navy Region Southwest Headquarters building, which itself was completed two years ago.

I learned from a USS Midway Museum volunteer that the Midway’s hull is inspected and cleaned every year.

The extensive operation consumes a substantial part of the aircraft carrier museum’s budget.

There are numerous sealed inlets in the enormous ship’s hull where saltwater from San Diego Bay might invade. There is also algae and other marine growth to be removed below the waterline. It’s part of a vital hull preservation program.

As I approached the B Street Pier today, home of the Cruise Ship Terminal, I observed a huge drill and other ponderous machinery.

I’ve learned the structural stability of the pier is being improved.

The Port of San Diego project is technically described as curtain wall repairs and backfilling. Don’t ask me exactly what that means!

Lastly, the landmark 1938 County Administration Building’s new paint job continues.

The sections that have been finished look great!

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Coronado’s Spreckels Mansion: then and now.

John D. Spreckels and his family owned the Hotel del Coronado during the first half of the 20th century.

In 1906 Spreckels began construction of a palatial home in Coronado. His mansion would stand at 1630 Glorietta Boulevard, across from his extraordinarily elegant Hotel del Coronado.

The Italian Renaissance style Spreckels Mansion, designed by renowned architect Harrison Albright (who also designed the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park), would be completed in 1908.

The above photograph was taken in 1915. The description of this public domain photo on Wikimedia Commons is: Promotional image of John D. Spreckels’ home on Coronado for marketing the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park, San Diego, California.

If the building appears familiar, that’s because much of it was incorporated into today’s Glorietta Bay Inn

Coronado Historical Landmark – J.D. Spreckels House – 1908. Dedicated 1977 Coronado Historical Association.

When I visited Coronado a couple months ago, the friendly Glorietta Bay Inn receptionists behind the front counter allowed me to take a few interior photos. What I found most interesting was one framed image on a wall.

The following is described as: a photograph of an original 1911 postcard of the Spreckels home, just after completion and before the addition of the music room in 1913…

Here are two more outside photos taken by my camera for comparison…

To learn more about John D. Spreckels, one of early San Diego’s most influential entrepreneurs, developers and philanthropists, read his Wikipedia article here.

You’ll learn his Coronado mansion included six bedrooms, three baths, a parlor, dining room and library at the cost of $35,000. At that time, Spreckels’ Mansion featured a brass cage elevator, a marble staircase with leather-padded handrails, skylights, marble floors and some of the Island’s most spectacular gardens. The home was built with reinforced steel and concrete, an earthquake precaution Spreckels insisted upon after living through the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Spreckels lived in the Glorietta Boulevard mansion until his death in 1926.

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!

Repairing the historic Old Adobe Chapel.

I recently learned that the historic Old Adobe Chapel in Old Town is being repaired and restored by the City of San Diego. I was told the roof leaks and a long, very serious crack was discovered along one wall. (I believe you can see it in one upcoming photo.)

I happened to be walking through Old Town yesterday when I remembered being told this. So I walked to 3963 Conde Street to see for myself.

The Adobe Chapel (also known as the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception) is designated California Historical Landmark No. 49. It was originally built in 1850. Initially the structure served as a home, then in 1858 it was turned into a church that would become a center for activity in early San Diego.

The old chapel has a rich history. It was said to be the wedding place of the character Ramona in Helen Hunt Jackson’s wildly popular 1884 novel of the same name. The Adobe Chapel would later be bulldozed and rebuilt in the 1930’s. To learn more about its history, visit the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) website here and here. To enjoy a fascinating gallery of images, click here.

The Adobe Chapel is presently operated by SOHO. It is both a museum and special event venue. According to their website, it should be reopening, after repairs, sometime in 2022.

I see a long crack!
Photo of historical plaques and sign taken from a nearby parking lot.

ADOBE CHAPEL OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

ORIGINALLY BUILT AS THE HOME OF SAN DIEGO’S JOHN BROWN IN 1850, THE HOUSE WAS CONVERTED TO A CHURCH BY DON JOSE AGUIRRE IN 1858. FATHER ANTONIO D. UBACH, FORMERLY A MISSIONARY AMONG THE INDIANS, WAS PARISH PRIEST HERE FROM 1866 TO 1907. IT IS SAID THAT HE WAS THE MODEL FOR “FATHER GASPARA” IN HELEN HUNT JACKSON’S RAMONA. IN 1937 THE WPA REBUILT THE ADOBE CHAPEL CLOSE TO ITS ORIGINAL SITE.

Old Adobe Chapel

BUILT IN 1850 AS A PRIVATE RESIDENCE. DEDICATED A PARISH CHURCH NOVEMBER 21, 1858 by FATHER JOHN MOLINER.

IN 1866, FATHER ANTONIO UBACH, THE PARISH PRIEST, WAS “FATHER GASPARA” OF HELEN HUNT JACKSON’S FAMOUS NOVEL “Ramona”

REBUILT BY UNITED STATES WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION 1937

A view of the Old Adobe Chapel from Conde Street in Old Town San Diego.

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A strange California Historical Landmark . . . parking lot?

At the north corner of Congress Street and Twiggs Street, in San Diego’s Old Town, you’ll find a large parking lot.

In a strip of landscaping between the parking lot and sidewalk stands a mysterious sign. The sign reads: SITE OF CASA DE COTA – HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 75.

That’s strange! The only thing visible is the parking lot! So, where is Casa de Cota?

According to this page of the San Diego History Center: Built in the mid-1830’s by Juan or Ramón Cota, this house stood for over a century on the corner of Twiggs and Congress Streets, before being destroyed by United States Army bulldozers during World War II.

You can see two old photographs of the historical structure here and here.

It appears to have been built of adobe blocks.

Visitor maps posted around Old Town San Diego State Historic Park show Parking Lot B, where the house once stood. I’ve included the following photo. I marked a red X at the mysterious sign’s location.

Do you happen to know more about the long-vanished Casa de Cota? If you do, please leave a comment!

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 enormous soap factory rises downtown!

A huge soap factory in downtown San Diego?

Yes!

Back in 1921, the Citrus/Pacific Soap Factory building was erected in San Diego’s small but growing downtown. Locally produced lemon juice would be a major ingredient in the manufacture of soap!

The architect responsible for this stately factory made of brick was William Wheeler. He also designed downtown’s Balboa Theater and other notable structures around the city.

You can see a cool historical photo of the old Citrus Soap Company of California factory standing near railroad tracks here.

According to this 1988 SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organisation) newsletter, the site at 301 West Market Street gained historical designation partly based on its association with three different soap companies dating back to 1892. Apparently, the factory also helped San Diego through a national soap crisis!

Today, the old factory building has been repurposed. It’s a unique part of the CityFront Terrace Condos.

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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.

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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!

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Unique architecture at the Solana Beach train station!

From any angle, the Solana Beach train station appears unusual and interesting. The architecture of this Coaster and Amtrak station makes it one of the most intriguing landmarks in San Diego’s North County.

The Solana Beach station opened in 1994. The building was designed by Rob Wellington Quigley, who is also known for the San Diego Central Library and its iconic dome, The New Children’s Museum, the Ocean Discovery Institute in City Heights, Bayside Fire Station No. 2, and the Beaumont Building in Little Italy. It seems all of his architectural work is just as surprising and visually stimulating.

The last time I rode the Coaster to Solana Beach I walked around the train station, taking these photographs. To my eye, there’s something undefinably attractive about the building’s sharp lines and simple curved shape, and its singular symmetry.

I particularly like the passenger waiting room. Those artfully arranged windows on either side are bright with outdoor sunlight, as if beckoning travelers to venture out into a magical, multi-faceted, welcoming big 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!

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Photographs of the SDSU Clay Gateway.

I recently rode a bus to the SDSU Transit Center on my way to another destination. I had plenty of time, so I walked a couple of blocks south to the corner of Montezuma Road and Campanile Drive to have a good look at the Clay Gateway.

The Clay Gateway opened in 2016. Rising simply but elegantly, decorated with patterned tiles, the gateway serves as a formal campus entrance to San Diego State University. Shining plaques on either side of the entrance state: THROUGH THESE GATES WILL PASS OUR FUTURE LEADERS.

You can learn more about the Clay Gateway, named after SDSU supporters Ben and Nikki Clay, by clicking here.

Here are my photos…

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!