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.

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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.

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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…

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Two unusual water towers in North Park!

Strange to say, but one of the most iconic landmarks in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood is a gigantic water tower.

Even stranger, should you wander around North Park, you’ll discover not one water tower, but two! The one is absolutely enormous, but the other is much smaller–and in fact isn’t a genuine water tower at all!

I took photos of the mini-water tower several weeks back. Drivers coming down Interstate 805 might glimpse it by looking up as they pass north of El Cajon Boulevard. It’s located at the intersection of Meade Avenue and Boundary Street.

The smaller tower is actually an AT&T cell tower that was erected several years ago. North Park signs on the disguised antenna greet alert travelers coming in either direction down the freeway. I was surprised to find a small, somewhat neglected garden beside the unique cell tower.

The genuine, gigantic, historic North Park Water Tower is over 140 feet tall. It stands near North Park Community Park just south of El Cajon Boulevard and was built in 1924.

According to this article, there were claims that it was “largest elevated tank in the world” when constructed, and held more than one million gallons of water but now is decommissioned and empty since the 1990s.

Today the tall North Park Water Tower is an iconic landmark that can be seen from many city blocks in every direction. Its unique design and historical importance has been recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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The historic William Clayton House in Bankers Hill.

Those entering Balboa Park from Bankers Hill might notice this beautiful old house at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street. During my walks I’ve often wondered about it.

After doing a little research, I discovered it’s called the William Clayton House. It was designed in 1907 by San Diego’s first female architect, Hazel Wood Waterman.

Hazel Wood Waterman got her start as one of renowned architect Irving J. Gill’s two chief draftspeople. With a particular love for the Arts and Crafts style, she would eventually design a number of houses and buildings around San Diego. Her most famous work was the 1910 restoration of the Casa de Estudillo in Old Town, a commission that came from John D. Spreckels.

You can learn more about Hazel Wood Waterman here.

The William Clayton House barely avoided demolition almost thirty years ago. You can read about that here. Today it is San Diego Historic Landmark #270 and location of the Vista Balboa Crisis Center.

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Hotel San Diego sign at Liberty Station.

If you’ve ever entered Liberty Station by turning down Dewey Road from Rosecrans Street, you might’ve glimpsed a very unusual sight. On the left, beyond some trees, an enormous sign is lying on the ground!

Last weekend I walked down a footpath behind Officer’s Quarters D of the old Naval Training Center San Diego for a better look. Quarters D until recently was the home of SCOUT. It is now home of Banyan Tree Educational Services.

The huge sign lying strangely on the ground once belonged to the Hotel San Diego. For many decades the neon sign was an iconic sight on Broadway in downtown San Diego. The large hotel was demolished in 2006 to make way for a new federal courthouse.

I myself stayed in the hotel a little over twenty years ago, when I moved to San Diego, and I remember seeing this landmark sign on the historic building.

The Hotel San Diego was built in 1914 by John D. Spreckels to accommodate visitors arriving for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. Learn more about it and see historical photos here.

Why is this large, rusting sign now lying on some grass at Liberty Station? It was preserved with the intention of restoring it for display in the garden behind Officer’s Quarters D. Read more about that here.

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Photos of Carlsbad’s grand, historic Twin Inns.

Several impressive landmark buildings can be observed during a visit to Carlsbad.

Perhaps the most prominent landmark stands at the corner of Carlsbad Boulevard (the local stretch of old Highway 101) and Carlsbad Village Drive. It’s called the Twin Inns. Look for the big blue Victorian building next to the Carlsbad gateway sign.

Approach the Twin Inns and you’ll not only be impressed by its grand architecture, but you’ll have the opportunity to view an informative plaque that relates a good deal of fascinating history.

The plaque by the front steps reads:

TWIN INNS

This Victorian structure was built in 1887 for Gerhard Schutte, whose role in the development of the town led to his being called the “Father of Carlsbad.” Schutte and partners Samuel Church Smith and D.D. Wadsworth founded the Carlsbad Land and Mineral Water Company and had as their vision “a town of small farms and gracious homes.” To that end they bought 400 prime acres at $40 per acre for development as a community. They laid out a townsite, lined roads with eucalyptus seedlings, and named the streets. This property was converted to the Twin Inns Restaurant circa 1917 by Whiting and Reed and was purchased by Ed and Neva Kentner in 1919. It was named the Twin Inns since the building was identical to the nearby Wadsworth home, also used as an inn. The building was extensively remodeled with a large octagonal dining room added in 1922. The Twin Inns was a popular summer dining area frequented by many of the Hollywood set after a day at the races and later figured prominently in Carlsbad’s history serving as the site of the first City Council meeting and deliberations on the city’s incorporation. The building was also famous for its fried chicken dinners, which were promoted by large plaster chickens out front. After 60 years as a family business, the Twin Inns was sold in 1984 and became part of the Village Faire Shopping Center.

COURTESY OF THE CARLSBAD HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION

On either side of the steps you’ll find two decorative signs…

The Twin Inns – Famous Chicken Dinners
Built by Alonzo Culver for Gerhard Schutte in 1887.
The north side of the Twin Inns.
The south side of the Twin Inns. You can see a sign for one small business that presently occupies the building, Sun Diego Boardshop.
The southeast corner of the Twin Inns. This part of the historic building is now used by Pedego Electric Bikes.

I was told by a friendly employee of Pedego Electric Bikes that the above door, on the building’s east side, used to be an entrance to a speakeasy back during Prohibition!

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Mural at southwest corner of continental USA!

Walk out to the end of the Imperial Beach Pier and you’re standing near the most southwesterly point in the continental United States!

And if you turn around at the end of the pier to look at one side of the Tin Fish restaurant, you’ll see a big mural created late last year by the local artists of Pandr Design Co. The mural includes geographic coordinates in degrees of latitude and longitude that prove its assertion!

While walking along the pier I noted a few other cool murals which were also painted recently by Pandr Design Co….

AS LONG AS THERE’S BEEN SURFING THERE’S ALWAYS BEEN THE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT WAVE
GOOD VIBES ONLY
IMPIERIAL BEACH CALIFORNIA Forever

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Markers and monuments at San Ysidro border.

Two historical markers can be seen just north of the San Ysidro Port of Entry border crossing. They stand near the entrance to the pedestrian bridge that crosses over Interstate 5 to Camino de la Plaza. I spotted them during my last walk around San Ysidro and took photographs.

A granite monument, marker number 255, reads Boundary of the United States–Treaty of 1853–Re-Established by Treaties of 1882-1889. The opposite side contains the same information in Spanish. The monument’s two other sides show the principal names from the international commission that precisely determined the previously disputed boundary with Mexico in 1892 to 1896. It was one of 258 markers placed along 689 miles of border.

The fascinating story of this particular marker includes a flood, a replacement duplicate, and the original marker’s rediscovery and relocation to this spot. Read more about its complicated history here.

Behind the granite boundary monument, a historical sign on a post marks the Blue Star Memorial Highway. The sign describes the highway as A tribute to the Armed Forces that have defended the United States of America.

Perhaps you’ve seen these signs elsewhere across the United States. Read more about the Blue Star Memorial Highway (which is in fact numerous highways) here.

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A look at the Stratford Square building in Del Mar.

Possibly the most unique and well known building in Del Mar is Stratford Square. Located at Camino del Mar and 15th Street, the English Tudor style architecture makes Stratford Square instantly recognizable.

This historical landmark was constructed in 1927 and was originally called the Kockritz Building. Today it’s the home of a couple dozen offices and a few small shops and eateries.

Stratford Square was built across 15th Street from the now long-vanished 1909 Stratford Inn. The Stratford Inn, later called the Hotel Del Mar, had a very similar Tudor appearance. It became a gathering place for many of Hollywood’s stars after Bing Crosby built the Del Mar Racetrack.

The spot where the old Stratford Inn stood overlooking the Pacific Ocean is now the location of the L’Auberge Del Mar luxury hotel.

As you travel through Del Mar, you might notice a few other buildings with an English Tudor appearance. Like Stratford Square, they were inspired by the original Stratford Inn.

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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