Lemon Grove history at the Parsonage Museum.

One of the most fascinating museums in San Diego County is located in the city of Lemon Grove.

The Parsonage Museum, operated by the Lemon Grove Historical Society, occupies a beautifully restored Victorian building at Treganza Heritage Park. The building began as Lemon Grove’s first church, the 1897 Atherton Chapel.

The old church was eventually moved from its original location, served as a community meeting hall, then became a private residence. Today it houses a museum whose exhibits recall a time when Lemon Grove was a small agricultural town with citrus orchards and packing houses, a general store, and a boast of the Best Climate on Earth!

I walked about Treganza Heritage Park and visited the Parsonage Museum last weekend. I also took a quick look at the 1928 H. Lee House, a Tudor Revival structure that stands nearby in the park and serves as a cultural center.

I urge anyone interested in the history of San Diego and Lemon Grove to head to the Parsonage Museum on a day when they are open. See their website for more information here!

To get an idea of what you’ll discover, please read my photo captions!

Treganza Heritage Park in Lemon Grove was first called Civic Center Park. It’s name was changed in 2020. The Treganza family was an influential pioneer family in Lemon Grove.
A view of the H. Lee House. It was moved to this location to make way for the extension of State Route 125.
The H. Lee House was built in 1928. It was designed by British architect Frederick C. Clemesha. Today it serves as a cultural center, where events such as History Alive lectures can be enjoyed.
One more photo of the handsome H. Lee House.
Lemon trees stand in a plaza between the H. Lee House and the Parsonage Museum.
The small plaza welcomes visitors to Treganza Heritage Park.
A 2002 dedication plaque from back when it was called Civic Center Park.
Now turning to look at the Parsonage Museum. The restored Folk Victorian building, the 1897 Atherton Chapel, served as the only Lemon Grove church until 1912.
Recovered grave marker of Anton Sonka just outside the museum entrance.

Anton Sonka was the patriarch of the Sonka family that led the growth of Lemon Grove between 1908 and the 1950s. His headstone, along with many others, was removed from Calvary Cemetery in 1970 by the City of San Diego and dumped at Mt. Hope Cemetery for mass burial. In 1985 Lemon Grove Historical Society members rescued and stored the headstone. It was brought to The Parsonage Museum in 2000 and unveiled on this permanent site in 2004.

(If you’d like to learn more about this callous dumping of gravestones, which were discovered in a gully at Mt. Hope Cemetery, I posted a blog concerning it here.)

When I visited in November 2021, the Parsonage Museum was featuring several historical exhibits concerning Lemon Grove.
The museum building was “Built in 1897 as First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove.”
Stepping into the museum, greeted by a lemony, welcoming doormat!
Look at what’s in the museum! A recreation of the Sonka Brothers General Store.
Items on display recall Lemon Grove’s rural history, which includes general stores where the community would gather.

The Sonka Brothers General Store stood near the center of town for decades. You can see photos of the Lemon Grove History Mural that’s painted on the south side of the historic Sonka Brothers General Store building here!

Photo from October 3, 1957 of The Big Lemon during a flag-raising. Civic leader Tony Sonka stands at the center.

If you like to see The Big Lemon today, which still stands on Broadway, check out these photos!

Old drum from the Lemon Grove Junior High School band.
1891 photograph of the first general store in Lemon Grove, built by A. E. Christianson at Main and Pacific Streets.
The many displays at the Parsonage Museum include these Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association packing crates.
Lemon sizers, circa 1930’s. Packers would separate lemons by size.
Woman holding lemon sizer, with stacked ready-to-assemble crates nearby.
A room on the ground floor of the Parsonage Museum recreates the Parson’s Study. Reverend Isaac Atherton established the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove in 1894. The building was constructed in 1897.
Several rooms can be viewed on the second floor of the Parsonage Museum, including this Parents’ Room, or bedroom.
The Sewing Room.
The Children’s Room.
Back on the museum’s ground floor, in a corner gallery, the current exhibit is titled Miller Dairy Remembered. This local dairy sold its first milk in 1926. Houses were finally built on the ranch site in the 1980’s. An important chapter of Lemon Grove’s agrarian past is recalled.
Lemon Grove’s old Miller Dairy and their 300 freely roaming Holstein cows are fondly remembered at the Parsonage Museum.
Historical photos show the Miller Dairy in Lemon Grove, from 1940-1980.
One last look at the lemon yellow Parsonage Museum!

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!

Mural at Welcome Home in Lemon Grove.

There’s a beautiful new mural on the front of the Welcome Home Boutique & Art Space in Lemon Grove. I spotted it yesterday during a walk down Broadway near Grove Street.

The art is by muralist and social justice activist Mario Chacón. It was painted this year.

Included in the artwork is the image of migrant workers collecting fruit from citrus trees.

Lemon Grove used to be largely agricultural. It’s sunny climate is perfect for growing citrus. The San Diego Union newspaper in 1894 referred to Lemon Grove as “a sea of lemon trees.”

My adventure yesterday included a visit to the Lemon Grove Parsonage Museum, which is operated by the Lemon Grove Historical Society. I’ll be sharing those fascinating photos in the next few days!

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!

The award-winning Lemon Grove History Mural.

One of San Diego’s finest murals can be seen in Lemon Grove. Beautifully detailed scenes painted on five large panels represent the history of Lemon Grove.

The impressive 65 by 18 foot mural, which was commissioned by the Lemon Grove Historical Society, was created over the course of several years (2005 to 2013) by artists Kathleen Strzelecki and Janne LaValle. In 2014 the Lemon Grove History Mural won the prestigious Governor’s Historic Preservation Award.

Small plaques indicate the historical period of each panel. From left to right they read: The World of the Kumeyaay 1,000 BCE, The Spanish Conquest 16th Century, The Mexican Empire 1821-1846, The Birth of Lemon Grove 19th century, and Modern Lemon Grove.

If you’d like to experience this remarkable mural with your own eyes, it’s located in Lemon Grove on the south side of the building at 3308 Main Street. The historic building was once home of the Sonka Brothers General Store.

Learn more here! And here’s another good article.

I took these photos for everyone to enjoy!

The World of the Kumeyaay 1,000 BCE
The Spanish Conquest 16th Century
The Mexican Empire 1821-1846
The Birth of Lemon Grove 19th century
Modern Lemon Grove

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.

Art and history at Lemon Grove Trolley Depot!

An enormous yellow lemon welcomes travelers passing through the heart of Lemon Grove, a community east of downtown San Diego.
An enormous yellow lemon welcomes travelers passing through the heart of Lemon Grove, a community east of downtown San Diego.

Step off an Orange Line trolley at the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot and you’re in for a surprise! On either side of the trolley station are several fun installations of public art. Signs also describe the unique agricultural history of Lemon Grove, which today is a sunny suburban community east of downtown San Diego.

I cruised into the trolley station last weekend to explore the immediate area. Of course, I had to direct my feet toward the big iconic lemon, which stands directly across the street from the depot, at the intersection of Broadway and Lemon Grove Avenue. The 3000 pound lemon was originally created in 1928 as a proud civic float for San Diego’s big Fourth of July parade. It was afterward turned into a permanent monument with a generous application of plaster!

Read the photo captions to learn a little bit more about fascinating Lemon Grove!

The Lemon Grove Trolley Depot is a 1986 replica of the original 1895 train depot, which stood near the Lemon Grove Store and a fruit-packing shed.
The Lemon Grove Trolley Depot is a 1986 replica of the original 1895 train depot, which stood near the Lemon Grove Store and a fruit-packing shed.

The city of Lemon Grove boasts the Best Climate on Earth! I spotted this sign at a nearby bus stop.
The city of Lemon Grove boasts the Best Climate on Earth! I spotted this sign at a nearby bus stop.

Fun street art near the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot provides tasty advice for those times when life gives you lemons...
Fun street art near the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot provides tasty advice for those times when life gives you lemons…

...make lemonade!
…make lemonade!

Or a lemon cupcake!
Or a lemon cupcake!

A walkway between the Celsius residential building and the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot contains tile mosaic lemon slices!
A walkway between the Celsius residential building and the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot contains tile mosaic lemon slices!

What appears to be wind-driven public artwork near Celsius and the trolley station generates electricity.
What appears to be a tall, shiny sculpture near Celsius and the trolley station rotates in the wind and generates electricity.

Colorful tiles radiate at the base of the rotating, wind-driven blades.
Colorful tiles radiate at the base of the rotating windmill.

People wait for an Orange Line trolley at the Lemon Grove station. The original structure had an open cupola so the depot agent could wave signal flags at oncoming trains.
People wait for an Orange Line trolley at the Lemon Grove station. The original structure had an open cupola so the depot agent could wave signal flags at oncoming trains.

A farm's windmill and tractor are reminders of an agricultural past. They stand in a public park beside the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot.
A farm’s windmill and tractor are artistic reminders of an agricultural past. They stand in the promenade beside the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot.

Both sides of this fun public art tractor are composed of small tiles.
Both sides of this fun public art tractor are composed of small tiles.

A nearby bench in the park appears like a crate once used by the Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association!
A creative bench in the public promenade. It appears like crates that were used by the Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association!

A sign near the depot shows the old Lemon Grove Store, circa 1900. The store provided supplies for nearby ranches, contained the post office, and was a community gathering place.
A sign near the depot shows the old Lemon Grove Store, circa 1900. The store provided supplies for nearby ranches, contained the post office, and was a community gathering place.

Another sign contains a view of Lemon Grove orchards looking towards Mount Miguel across the McTear Orchard in 1910.
Another sign contains a view of Lemon Grove orchards looking towards Mount Miguel across the McTear Orchard in 1910.

Old photo of the Sonka Store in 1912. The building eventually became the Grove Pastry Shop.
Old photo of the Sonka Store in 1912. The building eventually became the Grove Pastry Shop.

Old photo shows the Lemon Grove float during the San Diego parade in 1920. The parade celebrated the opening of John D. Spreckels' railway, which ran where the trolley runs today.
Old photo shows the Lemon Grove float during the San Diego parade in 1920. The parade celebrated the opening of John D. Spreckels’ railway, which existed where the trolley runs today.

Another sign features a photo of local women working in the packing house during the Great Depression. During peak season 2-3 railroad cars would be packed with lemons per day.
Another sign features a photo of local women working in the packing house during the Great Depression. During peak season, two or three railroad cars would be loaded full of lemons per day.

The historical legacy of Lemon Grove is remembered around the site of the old train depot, which is now a stop of the San Diego Trolley.
The historical legacy of Lemon Grove is remembered around the site of the old train depot, which is now a stop of the San Diego Trolley.

Lemons have a history of thriving in Lemon Grove, a community that claims to have the Best Climate on Earth!
Lemons have a history of thriving in Lemon Grove, a community that claims to have the Best Climate on Earth!

UPDATE!

I took the following photos several years later, after the lemon had been repainted and a plaque had been installed in front of it.

IMG_8170z

IMG_8172z

The plaque reads: The Big Lemon 1928. Alberto Treganza designed the Lemon as a July 4th parade float. Today it is the City’s symbol of its noble agrarian past and its “Best Climate on Earth.” A Heritage Project of the Lemon Grove Historical Society and the City of Lemon Grove.

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!