True believers line up to seek converts.

Child asks passersby if they are ready for death.
Child asks passersby if they are ready for death.

Balboa Park is a great place to see lots of street performers. It’s also a fine place to spot true believers. Lining El Prado on any given weekend, people who avidly believe in all sorts of religions, philosophies and political ideas hope to make converts of passersby. You can check out their posters and pamphlets, ask a question, or just walk on by. Being in southern California, it’s mostly laid back and good-natured.

I walked down El Prado yesterday and got a few pics:

Proselytizing in Balboa Park and argumentation.
Proselytizing in Balboa Park occasionally includes heated debate.
Muslims use Jesus to engage possible converts.
Muslims use Jesus to engage possible converts.
Atheists on El Prado make their case to tourists.
Atheists on El Prado make their case to passing tourists.
Scientologists with mysterious stress-detecting machines.
Scientologists with mysterious stress-detecting machines.
Hare Krishna advocates sit chanting their mantra.
Hare Krishna advocates sit chanting their mantra.

San Diego’s Mormon Battalion Historic Site.

Sculpture and cannon at entrance to Mormon Battalion Historic Site.
Sculpture and cannon at entrance to the Mormon Battalion Historic Site.

Just east of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park one can find the Mormon Battalion Historic Site, an attraction created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The location itself seems a bit arbitrary, as the Mormon Battalion manned Fort Stockton up on the hill by the old, abandoned Presidio when they arrived in San Diego in 1847.

Young lady missionaries guide visitors through a series of rooms and outdoor areas which are designed to tell a sympathetic version of the Mormon Battalion’s difficult 2000 mile march from Iowa. The ulterior motive is to promote their beliefs, and there are frequent religious references, but there is no hard sell and the tour guides are warm and friendly. One can absorb a little bit of history while experiencing a good-humored, Disney-like presentation.

Missionary lady comes outside to welcome a new visitor.
A friendly missionary lady comes outside to welcome a new visitor.
Girl in pioneer dress begins tour with talking, moving portraits.
Girl in a pioneer dress begins the tour with talking, moving portraits.

Much of the tour is spent watching professionally produced dramatic videos. Several real historical artifacts can be found near the tour’s end.

Taking pictures of visitors with a large old camera.
Taking pictures of visitors with a large antique camera.
Girls pose for a picture in front of a western scene.
Girls pose for a picture in front of a western scene.

A lot of families and kids were smiling and enjoying the tour. Many appeared to be members of the LDS Church.

Visitors near end of tour pan for iron pyrite--fool's gold.
Young visitors near end of the tour pan for glittery iron pyrite.
Covered wagon in front of Mormon Battalion Historic Site.
Covered wagon in front of the Mormon Battalion Historic Site.

Victorian houses and history in Heritage Park.

Several colorful Victorian houses were relocated to Heritage Park.
Several colorful Victorian houses were relocated to Heritage Park.

Lovers of architecture, Victorian houses and San Diego history should swing by Heritage Park, a small county park located next to Old Town.

Several historic homes representing Italianate, Stick-Eastlake, Queen Anne and Classic Revival styles were relocated to this eight acre park by the Save Our Heritage Organisation.  Only the exteriors of the structures have been restored, with the exception of the Burton House and Senlis Cottage, which are open to the public.

Group of ladies walking past the Sherman Gilbert House.
Group of ladies walking past the Sherman-Gilbert House.

John Sherman, cousin of General William Tecumseh Sherman, built the Stick-Eastlake style Sherman-Gilbert House in 1887.  Over the years, many world-famous entertainers appeared at receptions in this house, including ballet dancer Anna Pavlova and pianist Artur Rubinstein.  This was the first structure moved to Heritage Park, in 1971.

Bushyhead House was an Italianate residence built in 1887.
Bushyhead House was an Italianate residence built in 1887.

Edward Wilkerson Bushyhead, a Cherokee Indian with a Scottish ancestor, was an important historical figure in San Diego. He served as Chief of Police years after being publisher of the San Diego Union newspaper. He built the Bushyhead House as a rental in 1887.

Christian House, built in 1889, seen beyond large tree.
Christian House, built in 1889, seen beyond large tree.

The Christian House is a colorful Queen Anne style house built in 1889.

Girl on porch of the classic revival Burton House.
Girl on porch of the Classic Revival Burton House.
Side view of the Burton House in San Diego's Heritage Park.
Side view of the 1893 Burton House in San Diego’s Heritage Park.
McConaughy House is home to the Coral Tree Tea House.
McConaughy House, a Stick-Eastlake built in 1887.
People emerge from San Diego's first synagogue, Temple Beth Israel.
People emerge from San Diego’s first synagogue, Temple Beth Israel.

This 1889 Classic Revival building constructed by the Congregation Beth Israel was also used by several religious sects before it was finally relocated to Heritage Park.

Heritage Park is located near Old Town San Diego.
Heritage Park is located adjacent to historic Old Town San Diego.

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Priest on steps of historic Old Town church.

priest on steps of historic old town church

I was fortunate to get this great photograph while walking past the Immaculate Conception Church last Sunday morning. (Yes, I did a lot of walking last weekend!) It’s located directly across the street from the colorful shop in the previous blog post.

This historic church in Old Town was built in 1917, and its bell tower contains one of two original bells from the centuries old San Diego Mission. The other bell can be found at Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley.

I believe that’s a Catholic priest by the front steps with his hand on an elderly gentleman. It’s a warm gesture and a beautiful photo!

Here are more pics taken on later dates…

Man looks up at entrance to church.
Man looks up at entrance to Old Town church.
One of the original mission bells.
One of the original San Diego Mission bells can be seen in tower above.

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