The Beacon lights up Sherman Heights!

Check out this awesome mural in Sherman Heights!

The super colorful artwork is titled The Beacon. It was painted in 2022 by artist Paul Mericle. His astounding creation decorates a wall at Red Door Interactive, a marketing agency that recently moved to this location.

I took photographs of the mural from the Market Street sidewalk during a stroll through the neighborhood.

Enjoy!

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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!

This freeway bridge is a musical instrument!

Did you know there’s a bridge over a freeway in San Diego that is also a musical instrument?

Drivers passing over State Route 94 on the 25th Street bridge might not realize they are traveling beside an interactive chime rail that pedestrians with a good stick or (better yet) metal rod can play!

Called the Crab Carillon, this musical feature of a very unique bridge is part of the City of San Diego’s Civic Art Collection. The Crab Carillon, created by artist Roman de Salvo in 2003, features 488 individually tuned chimes spanning the full length of the bridge, which can be played by passersby.

De Salvo commissioned Joseph Waters to compose a short, sophisticated palindrome, which sounds the same played forward or backward. The title refers to the way that crabs scuttle from side to side, similar to the movement of those who interact with the artwork.

As I walked south down 25th Street from Golden Hill toward Sherman Heights, I happened to find a piece of broken wood on the sidewalk. Perfect! I thought. Up ahead is San Diego’s musical bridge! Now I’m ready to play the Crab Carillon!

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!

Colorful street art near Market and 25th!

I saw this colorful street art a couple days ago while walking up Market Street. It’s located at 25th Street, where Sherman Heights and Grant Hill meet.

I spotted artist signature @yvette_roman on the puppet electrical box. And @romasanchez.art on the giraffe box.

As I continued a short distance east on Market Street I saw this beautiful Guadalupe mural painted on what appears to be a residence. A happy family is depicted. The artist signature was too distant from the sidewalk to decipher.

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!

A big sandcastle, new mural, and angelic doors!

I’ve recently updated three old blog posts with new photographs!

Today I headed back down to Imperial Beach. I had to check out the gigantic sandcastle that was completed by the pier for the 2021 Sun and Sea Festival. See lots of incredible new photos in an update here!

I also swung by City Heights, to check out the long, amazing mural that’s slowly coming to life in Teralta Park. Click here to see those new photos!

Finally, a few weeks ago I took a walk through Sherman Heights, and directed my feet toward Our Lady of Angels. I wanted better, closer photographs of the church’s fantastic doors. See those here!

I’ve got many more colorful blog posts coming in the near future!

Stay tuned for tons of art in Escondido, interesting activity in Old Town, and more cool sights in North Park, Chula Vista, City Heights and downtown! Not to mention potential surprises!

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!

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A look at Our Lady of Angels in Sherman Heights.

Whenever I drive along California State Route 94, just east of downtown San Diego, I can’t help noticing a yellow church with a tall, old-fashioned steeple rising south of the highway. So I finally decided to take a walk through Sherman Heights to have a better look.

According to this, the Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church originated in 1905. A plaque by the front entrance reads: Church of Our Lady of Angels 1906. I suppose that’s the year of the building’s dedication. I tried to do a little online research, but I can’t find much about the building’s history.

As you can see, the church has a quaint but very distinctive appearance. It is said to be one of San Diego’s best examples of Gothic Revival architecture. (To me, seen from its front, the church appears like an angular yellow rocket!)

Our Lady of Angels stands in the historic old neighborhood of Sherman Heights, which today is filled with numerous picturesque Victorian houses, many of which exist in a state of semi-decay. Our Lady of Angels was San Diego’s second Catholic parish.

I didn’t venture beyond the angelic front doors of the church. The colorful building appeared to be closed the day I walked around it.

Enjoy some photos!

UPDATE!

Here are two better photos of the beautiful doors taken during a later walk…

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!

Keep having a good day!

Keep having a good day!
Keep having a good day!

I recently walked through Sherman Heights. I wanted to check out a very interesting old church that one can glimpse east of downtown while driving along California State Route 94. I’ll be blogging about that shortly!

As I walked up Market Street, I came upon this fun street art!

A happy sun shines above a confusion of living clouds.
A happy sun shines above a confusion of living clouds.

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!

Take a tour inside the amazing Villa Montezuma!

Through this door is where the tour of the Villa Montezuma begins. Once inside, visitors turn left into a reception room, then proceed into magnificent performance and drawing rooms.
Through this door is where the tour of the Villa Montezuma begins. Once inside, visitors turn left into a reception room, then proceed into truly magnificent performance and drawing rooms.

Four times a year, people are allowed inside the amazing Villa Montezuma. That’s part of the agreement between the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of the Villa Montezuma, who are working hard to restore this historic gem in San Diego’s Sherman Heights neighborhood. I went on one of those half hour tours yesterday. Wow!

A couple years ago I walked past this eye-popping 1887 Queen Anne Victorian mansion, built by famed musican and spiritualist Jesse Shepard. I then posted a blog with a few outside photos. Well, guess what? All I can present today are more outside photos! Because photography isn’t allowed inside the Villa Montezuma at this time. But I can provide a little info about the tour, and try to convince you to go on one yourself.

Stepping into the Villa Montezuma is like stepping into a tiny royal palace. I’m not exaggerating. When I was young, I was fortunate to visit many of the most elegant palaces and chateaus of Europe, and the interior of Jesse Shepard’s home, which includes a splendid reception room, performance hall and drawing room, easily matches those esteemed places when it comes to lavish, luxurious decoration. Jesse Shepard (who later wrote under the pen name of Francis Grierson) was a pianist and composer who performed for many of Europe’s royalty, including the Czar of Russia and the Prince of Wales in England. So he was no stranger to a kingly lifestyle!

Should you enjoy an inside tour of the elaborate Villa Montezuma, which is built entirely of redwood, you’ll see fantastic art glass created by John Mallon of San Francisco. (Mallon also created the stained glass windows for San Diego’s 1889 courthouse, each window representing the Great Seals of the 42 states. You can see those windows today in downtown’s Hall of Justice.)

Jesse Shepard loved art, music and literature, and the stained glass windows in his mansion pay homage to his favorite artists. In the splendid room where he performed concerts for guests, windows feature the faces of Beethoven and Mozart, Raphael and Rubens; you’ll also see an expansive window devoted to Sappho, the classic Greek lyric poet, and four windows representing the four seasons. In the drawing room you can see more stained glass featuring Shakespeare, Goethe and Corneille.

The effect of these windows is truly astonishing. Their magical light shines on warm, ornate woodwork and wood floors, an embossed silvery ceiling, satin curtains, a variety of beautiful fireplaces, and artful touches that include influences from Innsbruck and Japonism. Stepping into the Villa Montezuma almost seems like falling into a dream of long ago.

Restoration of the Villa Montezuma is ongoing. The foundation was recently strengthened, along with the roof and chimneys. Still to go is the repainting of the exterior, fence restoration and landscaping the grounds. Once all is complete, it is hoped the mansion will be open full time as a permanent museum!

Meanwhile, go on a tour if you’re in San Diego. The guide was knowledgeable and entertaining. You’ll see much of the house, even some less elevated parts like the kitchen and washing room. You’ll learn all about Jesse Shepard, including strange mysteries concerning his life and the absolutely magnificent way he died!

Visit the official Villa Montezuma website!

Tours are offered of the Villa Montezuma four times every year. The upper floor isn't open to the public yet.
Folks gather for a free half hour tour.  The public can venture inside the Villa Montezuma four times every year. (The upper floor isn’t open to the public yet.)

The Friends of the Villa Montezuma is a nonprofit dedicated to restoring and maintaining the amazing Villa Montezuma mansion in San Diego.
The Friends of the Villa Montezuma is a nonprofit dedicated to restoring and maintaining the amazing Villa Montezuma mansion in San Diego.

Photo of southeast corner of the Villa Montezuma Museum. The 1887 Queen Anne Victorian mansion contains numerous beautiful stained glass windows.
Photo of southeast corner of the Villa Montezuma Museum. The 1887 Queen Anne Victorian mansion contains numerous beautiful stained glass windows.

Looking upward at the elaborate tower. I was allowed to closely approach this outside part of the Villa Montezuma on a tour day.
Looking upward at the elaborate tower. I was allowed to closely approach this outside part of the Villa Montezuma on a tour day.

A balcony just outside Jesse Shepard's bedroom, which is adjacent to the elegant drawing room!
A balcony just outside Jesse Shepard’s bedroom, which is adjacent to the elegant drawing room!

Unusual curved bay window of the drawing room features stained glass images of Shakespeare, Goethe and Corneille.
Unusual curved bay window of the drawing room features stained glass images of Shakespeare, Goethe and Corneille.  One must be inside to appreciate the grand effect.

A light-filled chapel-like nook in one corner of Jesse Shepard's performance room features stained glass depicting the four seasons.
A light-filled chapel-like nook in one corner of Jesse Shepard’s performance room features stained glass depicting the four seasons.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Alive in memory: one Dia de los Muertos altar.

A traditional Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights summons ancestors and close loved ones who have passed from this world.
A traditional Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights summons ancestors and loved ones who have passed from this world.

I went for a long walk this morning. My feet carried me through Sherman Heights, a neighborhood directly east of downtown San Diego. I was hoping to see some of the community Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altars. These outdoor altars, distributed about a few residential streets, were the focus of yesterday’s popular Sherman Heights Muertos Festival, which I missed.

Heading down 24th Street, I spotted one elaborate altar near the sidewalk and was struck by the rich, heartfelt symbolism.

Loved ones who’ve “passed to the other side” are remembered with reverence on Dia de los Muertos, and their spirits are enticed back among the living. Traditional items featured in the altars can include sugar skulls, samples of the deceased person’s favorite food, pan de muertos (bread with a small human figurine baked inside), seeds, flowers, portraits of the dead, candles, alcohol (to toast the arrival of spirits), and papel picado (decorative perforated paper which represents the fragile nature of life).

I don’t know whose spirits are being summoned by this particular altar. I can tell that precious memories are being kept alive among the living, and that those memories contain whole lifetimes of love.

Powerful symbols of life, love, hope and renewal on display in this colorful outdoor altar.
Powerful symbols of life, love, hope and renewal on display in this colorful outdoor altar.

In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous celebration of the dead. It is an important day in culturally rich San Diego.
In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous celebration of the dead. It is a beloved time in culturally rich San Diego.

A beautiful outdoor Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights. An ordinary family cherishes extraordinary memories.
A beautiful outdoor Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights. An ordinary family cherishes extraordinary memories.

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Bold, colorful street art in Sherman Heights.

Sun shines on dynamic mural at Golden Hill Market and Liquor in Sherman Heights.
Sun shines on dynamic mural at Golden Hill Market and Liquor in Sherman Heights.

Here are two boldly painted murals in Sherman Heights, a neighborhood just east of downtown San Diego. I photographed the first mural at 21st Street and Market Street several few days ago. I took my first picture of the second mural last May as I watched the local All-American Soap Box Derby on hilly 25th Street. Since then, the painted boards seem to have been removed from the market wall, and shifted a bit to the left behind a tree. You can see shadows in the two more recent photos.

According to my research, both of these distinctive works of street art were created under the direction of local artist Mario Torero. His passionate artwork, often depicting political themes and civil rights activists, can also be seen at Chicano Park in Barrio Logan, Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park, and elsewhere around San Diego.

Sherman Heights residents painted this wall in 1980, with help from local artist Mario Torero.
Young residents of Sherman Heights painted this wall in 1980, with help from local artist Mario Torero.

Aztec imagery is a colorful part of the artwork.
Aztec imagery is a colorful part of the artwork.

The 35 year old mural remains vivid, having been restored several times due to graffiti.
The 35 year old mural is vivid, having been restored several times due to graffiti.

Words above people read Barrio Sherman Mural Unidos.
Words above people read Barrio Sherman Mural Unidos.

Lively images cover pipes, meter box and a door.
Lively images cover pipes, meter box and a door.

Latino-themed mural shows respect for education.
Latino-themed mural shows respect for education.

K St. Market on 25th Street with mural designed by local artist Mario Torero.
K St. Market on 25th Street with mural designed by local artist Mario Torero.

Face enveloped by color shows confident character.
Face enveloped by color shows confident character.

The Barrio is a Garden was painted on wood in 2010 in Sherman Heights.
The Barrio is a Garden was painted on wood in 2010 in Sherman Heights.

Brightly painted street bench on 25th Avenue in Sherman Heights.
Brightly painted street bench on 25th Avenue in Sherman Heights.

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Villa Montezuma house in Sherman Heights.

Villa Montezuma is a Queen Anne Victorian mansion.
The historical Villa Montezuma is a Queen Anne Victorian mansion.

Here is a cool sight that I walked past yesterday! Check out the absolutely fantastic Villa Montezuma mansion!  You can find it nestled in Sherman Heights, an old, semi-decayed neighborhood just east of downtown San Diego.

Also called the Jesse Shepard house, this architectural marvel was built in 1887. It’s considered by some to be the finest example of Queen Anne architecture on the West Coast, plus it’s rumored to be haunted by two ghosts! In the more recent past it was a museum, but eventually fell into disrepair. It’s currently being renovated. Hopefully it should reopen next year!

Jesse Shepard, born in London in 1848, was a famous, flamboyant European musician. While performing for Alexander II of Russia, Jesse was introduced to the Czar’s medium who taught him how to conduct seances. Shepard became obsessed with spiritualism, and after moving to San Diego at the suggestion of a local spiritualist society, built the Villa Montezuma to his own exact specifications.

Included in the amazing house are highly ornate towers and stained glass windows. It’s interior is just as imaginative, and is said to contain secret passages. Several gargoyles can be spotted should you walk down the sidewalk. Just the sort of place to hold seances! And Shepard held many! He claimed to have spoken with the spirits of Mozart, Beethoven and Shakespeare, just to name a few.

Today it’s rumored that the Villa Montezuma is haunted by a man who hung himself in the observatory tower. And by Jesse Shepard himself! Unexplained piano music is said to be heard coming from the historical mansion late at night!

Fantastic house in Sherman Heights is supposedly haunted.
Fantastic house in Sherman Heights is supposedly haunted.

Musician and writer Jesse Shepherd worked in the high tower.
Musician and writer Jesse Shepard worked in the high tower.

A closer look at detail on house side.
A closer look at detail on Villa Montezuma’s east side.

Gargoyle head on a famous historical mansion.
Gargoyle head on a famous San Diego mansion.

Another gargoyle perches on the roof!
Another gargoyle is perched on the roof!

Here are two sunnier photos I took on a later date…

An excellent example of Queen Anne style architecture in Southern California.
An excellent example of Queen Anne style architecture in Southern California.

Photo of Jesse Shepard's Villa Montezuma in San Diego's Sherman Heights neighborhood.
Photo of Jesse Shepard’s Villa Montezuma in San Diego’s Sherman Heights neighborhood.

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