Photos of restored rooms inside Casa de Estudillo.

Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park look into a restored room of La Casa de Estudillo.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park look into a restored room of La Casa de Estudillo.

Four years ago I posted photos of La Casa de Estudillo, a famous adobe house in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park that was originally built in 1827. That blog was called Ramona saved Casa de Estudillo in Old Town and concerned the fascinating history of this structure.

Over time various parts of the casa have undergone restoration and new rooms have opened up to public view. These rooms now appear furnished as they once might have been, in the very early days of San Diego.

I recently walked through La Casa de Estudillo and peered into a few of the rooms…

Sign describes the dining room of La Casa de Estudillo.
Sign describes the dining room of La Casa de Estudillo.
The eventual prosperity of the Estudillo family is reflected in their elegant dining room.
The eventual prosperity of the Estudillo family is reflected in their elegant dining room.
Expensive furniture and tableware imported by ship from distant places fill the otherwise simple room.
Expensive furniture and tableware imported by ship from distant places fill the otherwise simple room.
Sign describes commerce in the casa. Francisco de Paul Rodriguez rented space from the Estudillos for a store.
Sign describes commerce in the casa. Francisco de Paul Rodriguez rented space from the Estudillos for a store.
The store, or tienda, contained shelves of goods that might be purchased by the residents of Old Town San Diego. Much of the merchandise came by ship from the East Coast around Cape Horn.
The store, or tienda, contained shelves of goods that might be purchased by the residents of Old Town San Diego. Much of the merchandise came by ship from the East Coast around Cape Horn.
More shelves against one wall contain iron tools and basic furnishings like candlesticks for sale.
More shelves against one wall contain iron tools and basic furnishings like candlesticks for sale.
Sign describes how the Estudillos adapted to life on the frontier in the 1830's and 1840's.
Sign describes how the Estudillos adapted to life on the frontier in the 1830’s and 1840’s.
A bedroom inside La Casa de Estudillo contains a wealth of comfort, unusual in early San Diego, which was located far away from developed centers of commerce.
A bedroom inside La Casa de Estudillo contains a wealth of comfort, unusual in early San Diego, which was located far away from developed centers of commerce.
Several additional rooms at La Casa de Estudillo are undergoing restoration.
Several additional rooms at La Casa de Estudillo are undergoing restoration.
Sign describes how the casa started as a modest two-room structure and eventually grew into an expansive U-shaped building with a courtyard and outbuildings.
Sign describes how the casa started as a modest two-room structure and eventually grew into an expansive U-shaped building with a courtyard and outbuildings.
Photo of the Casa de Estudillo's tower from the central garden courtyard.
Photo of the Casa de Estudillo’s tower from the central garden courtyard.
Looking across the south end of the courtyard toward the outdoor oven and Seeley Stable beyond.
Looking across the south end of the courtyard toward the outdoor oven and Seeley Stable beyond.
Sign explains how the Estudillos cared for a growing family including many children.
Sign explains how the Estudillos cared for a growing family including many children.
Frozen Charlotte dolls, ca. 1850's. These china dolls were popular in the Victorian era.
Frozen Charlotte dolls, ca. 1850’s. These china dolls were popular in the Victorian era.
A look into the children's bedroom.
A look into the children’s bedroom.
Sign describes the Estudillo kitchen and pantry. The family's ranchos provided meat, game, vegetables and fruit.
Sign describes the Estudillo kitchen and pantry. The family’s ranchos provided meat, game, vegetables and fruit.
Jars, pots, sacks of flour and fruit are among the many items seen in the rather primitive kitchen.
Jars, pots, sacks of flour and fruit are among the many items seen in the rather primitive kitchen.
The kitchen inside La Casa de Estudillo provides an idea of what life might have been like in early San Diego.
The kitchen inside La Casa de Estudillo provides an idea of what life might have been like in early San Diego.

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Top Gun House in Oceanside to be restored.

Photo from across North Pacific Street in Oceanside of the famous Top Gun house, an historical landmark that will be restored.
Photo from across North Pacific Street in Oceanside of the famous Top Gun House, an historical landmark that will be restored.

Today I headed up the coast to enjoy a walk around Oceanside.

During my small adventure I paused to look at Oceanside’s famous Top Gun House, which is located at the corner of North Pacific Street and Seagaze Drive. It’s the small beach house in the popular 1986 movie where Maverick ate dinner with his love interest Charlie.

A nearby sign provided some information about the house’s historical significance and planned restoration:

“Built in 1887 by Dr. Henry Graves as a vacation home, the Graves House is an ocean front Queen Anne Cottage and is now the “last best” existing such house in San Diego County, as recognized by SOHO (the Save Our Heritage Organization).

The house is best known by most people as the “Top Gun House” because of its prominent role in the movie of the same name. Scenes between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis were filmed here in 1985 and the popular movie was released in 1986.

Complete house restoration pending hotel development on this site.

Oceanside Historical Society.”

I spoke with a friendly Downtown Ambassador of MainStreet Oceanside at an information table by the foot of the Oceanside Pier, and she said there are plans to not only restore “Charlie’s House”, but to move it one block north, nearer the pier. That valuable oceanfront lot is also awaiting development.

The Top Gun beach house sits in a corner of a large empty lot that is awaiting development. A hotel will be built here, a block from the Oceanside Pier.
The Top Gun House sits in a corner of a large empty lot that is awaiting development. A hotel will be built here, a block from the Oceanside Pier.
A sign near the Top Gun house provides information for curious people walking past.
A sign near the Top Gun House provides information for curious people walking past.
On the front of the house is a classic Top Gun poster and a vintage photo of the house as it once looked, over a century ago.
On the front of the house is a classic Top Gun poster and a vintage photo of the house as it once looked, long ago.
Photo of the south side of the small Queen Anne style cottage.
Photo of the south side of the small Queen Anne style cottage.
The famous Top Gun beach house will be restored and enjoyed by the local community and the movie's many fans for years to come.
The famous Top Gun House will be restored and enjoyed by the local community and the movie’s many fans for years to come.

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!

Rare cars, antiques at a surprising museum!

Rare early automobiles and thousands of collectible antiques can be viewed during a visit to the unique J. A. Cooley Museum in San Diego.
About two dozen antique automobiles and thousands of collectibles can be viewed during a visit to the J. A. Cooley Museum in San Diego.

Last Sunday I visited one of San Diego’s most surprising museums. It’s located in University Heights, at 4233 Park Boulevard. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of it. It’s called the J. A. Cooley Museum.

The J. A. Cooley Museum shares its 10,000 square foot space with the old Frank the Train Man hobby shop, which first opened its doors in 1943. Both the museum and store are operated by Jim Cooley and his wife, Carmen, who’ve been avidly collecting antiques for well over half a century.

Jim, who can usually be found hanging around the museum entrance, is a friendly gentleman with endless stories about his passion for collecting and preserving bits of history. Step inside the museum and it’s immediately apparent that he really loves antique automobiles.

This utterly amazing museum, which doesn’t advertise or have a website of its own, contains a world-class collection of early automobiles, some of which are extremely rare or even one-of-a-kind. The museum also contains a treasure trove of other antiques, including antique phonographs . . . cameras . . . amazing Standard Gauge trains . . . cast iron toys . . . clocks . . . coffee grinders . . . railroad lanterns . . . irons . . . hardware tools . . . even old-fashioned spittoons!

Over the years, Jim has collected all sorts of objects that have interested him, often saving them from being thrown away. For example, he told me around World War II, when spittoons were being discarded in large numbers, he’d see some in a trash truck and retrieve them. Now he has hundreds of them!

The most impressive part of his museum, however, is the jaw-dropping collection of antique automobiles–many well over a century old–which he has patiently acquired over time without an enormous expenditure of money.

Even if many San Diegans are unfamiliar with the J. A. Cooley Museum, serious car aficionados seem to know all about it. People sometimes fly in from around the world to see the collection. The museum’s reputation is such that from time to time a movie studio will borrow a rare old car for filming–for example the 1914 Renaut that was used in Titanic.

I was told by Jim that when General Motors borrowed one his cars for an exposition, GM executives came out to San Diego to look at the museum and were so impressed, they donated their incredible Buick XP 2000, a fully automated 1994 self-driving concept car!

The funny thing is, when I swung by on Sunday and spent a good hour walking about the museum in a state of complete and utter amazement, I saw no other visitors.

I learned Jim wouldn’t mind having more people swing on by. So if you live in San Diego or are planning a trip, look up the Frank the Train Man hobby shop. Step through the front door and the absolutely amazing J. A. Cooley Museum, and possibly Jim himself, await you!

Upon entering the J. A. Cooley Museum, visitors walk past a row of very old cars. On the left is a 1914 Ford Model T.
Upon entering the J. A. Cooley Museum, visitors walk past a row of very old cars. On the left is a 1914 Ford Model T.
1910 Hunt Special, the only car ever manufactured in San Diego. This one car was produced by Mr. William Hunt of National City, ordered by Mr. Arnie Babcock, whose father built the Hotel del Coronado.
1910 Hunt Special, the only car ever manufactured in San Diego. Just one car was produced by Mr. William Hunt of National City, ordered by Mr. Arnie Babcock, whose father built the Hotel del Coronado.
1933 Franklin Olympic, produced one year before Franklin Motor Company ceased operations during the Great Depression.
1933 Franklin Olympic, produced the year before Franklin Motor Company ceased operations during the Great Depression.
1929 Franklin Model 135, produced the first year that Franklin offered a steel frame and hydraulic brakes.
1929 Franklin Model 135, produced the first year that Franklin offered a steel frame and hydraulic brakes.
1913 Cadillac Model 48. This car on display is the most original 1913 Cadillac left in existence today.
1913 Cadillac Model 48. This car on display is the most original 1913 Cadillac left in existence today.
1912 Carter Car. The body of the Carter Car is made of compressed papier-mâché composite panels over wood framing. This car on display is the only Carter Car Sedan left in existence.
1912 Carter Car. The body of the Carter Car is made of compressed papier-mâché composite panels over wood framing. This car on display is the only Carter Car Sedan left in existence.
Buick XP 2000, a fully automated 1994 self-driving concept car that was donated to the J. A. Cooley Museum because the designer was very impressed by the collection when GM executives visited the museum.
Buick XP 2000, a fully automated 1994 self-driving concept car that was donated to the J. A. Cooley Museum because the designer was very impressed by the collection of rare cars when GM executives visited the museum.
A couple of early cameras among a vast collection of antiques and memorabilia filling the J. A. Cooley Museum.
A couple of early cameras among a vast collection of antiques and memorabilia inside the J. A. Cooley Museum.
Behind some cars you'll find a rare WurliTzer Model 153 Band Organ.
Behind some cars you’ll find a rare WurliTzer Model 153 Band Organ.
An antique two-horn Duplex Phonograph.
An antique two-horn Duplex Phonograph.
An antique Edison Concert Phonograph.
An antique Edison Concert Phonograph.
An old photo of the Frank The Train Man storefront over an Edison Home Phonograph.
An old photo of the Frank The Train Man storefront over an Edison Home Phonograph.
One wall and a couple of glass display cases filled with fantastic old collectibles and Americana.
One wall and a couple of glass display cases filled with fantastic old collectibles and Americana.
Shelves and shelves of old cameras.
Shelves and shelves of old cameras.
Shelves filled with old irons.
Shelves filled with old irons.
Antique cast iron horse drawn toy fire engines.
Cast iron horse drawn toy fire engines.
Shelves and shelves of Standard Gauge toy train locomotives and cars from 1900 to the 1940's.
Shelves and shelves of Standard Gauge toy train locomotives and cars from 1900 to the 1940’s.
Lionel toy train accessories including buildings and railroad crossing signals.
Lionel toy train accessories including buildings and railroad crossing signals.
All sorts of old manual typewriters and calculating machines. (I must be an antique, too, because I used a manual typewriter when I was young!)
All sorts of old manual typewriters and calculating machines. (I must be an antique, too, because I used a manual typewriter when I was a young man!)
One corner of the J. A. Cooley Museum contains shelves of spittoons, coffee grinders, old lanterns and more!
One corner of the J. A. Cooley Museum contains shelves of spittoons, coffee grinders, old lanterns and more!
1895 E. A. Gardner Buggy, the only light weight horse drawn carriage that was built in San Diego known to exist today.
1895 E. A. Gardner Buggy, the only lightweight horse-drawn carriage that was built in San Diego known to exist today.
1885 Benz Model 1. The first vehicle in world history that used an internal combustion engine. They were produced from 1885 to 1926, when the company merged with Mercedes.
1885 Benz Model 1. The first vehicle in world history that used an internal combustion engine. They were produced from 1885 to 1926, when the company merged with Mercedes.
1895 Benz Velo. The world's first mass-produced vehicle. 67 were built the first year, 135 the second.
1895 Benz Velo. The world’s first mass-produced vehicle. 67 were built the first year, 135 the second.
1899 Mobile Steamer. Built under Stanley Patents from 1899 to 1903.
1899 Mobile Steamer. Built under Stanley Patents from 1899 to 1903.
A bunch of old-fashioned oil cans and various other objects.
A bunch of old-fashioned oil cans and various other cool objects.
Cuckoo clocks and a historical display of different California license plates!
Cuckoo and mantel clocks, and a historical display of different California license plates!
So many fantastic old objects and collectibles, my eyes almost popped out of my head.
So many fantastic old objects and collectibles, my eyes almost popped out of my head.
I believe these are cast iron coin banks.
I believe these are cast iron coin banks.
All sorts of cool cast iron figures and toys, including an awesome motorcycle!
All sorts of cast iron figures and toys, including an awesome motorcycle!
Two shelves containing railroad lanterns.
Two shelves containing railroad lanterns.
Some classic Coca Cola trays and even more antique collectibles.
Some classic Coca Cola trays and even more antique collectibles.
A bunch of jugs!
A bunch of jugs!
1900 Doctor's Buggy. The narrow, light body allowed for quick travel during medical emergencies. The tires are metal.
1900 Doctor’s Buggy. The narrow, light body allowed for quick travel during medical emergencies. The tires are metal.
1900 Crest. This extremely original car is also very rare, with few left in existence today.
1900 Crest. This extremely original car is also very rare, with few left in existence today.
1905 Cadillac Model F. This particular unrestored car was bought new by famed newspaper founder Ira Copley.
1905 Cadillac Model F. This particular unrestored car was bought new over a century ago by famed newspaper founder Ira Copley.
There's so much cool stuff inside the J. A. Cooley Museum your head might explode!
There’s so much cool stuff inside the J. A. Cooley Museum your head might explode!
1910 Brush Model D, just one of many amazing old automobiles exhibited inside the J. A. Cooley Museum in San Diego.
Front and center is a 1910 Brush Model D, just one of many amazing old automobiles exhibited inside the J. A. Cooley Museum in San Diego!

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!

Endless scenes of beauty in Balboa Park.

Children gaze at the beautiful fountain and sculpture Woman of Tehuantepec by Donal Hord, in the courtyard of Balboa Park's House of Hospitality.
Children gaze at the beautiful fountain and sculpture Woman of Tehuantepec by Donal Hord, in the courtyard of Balboa Park’s House of Hospitality.

It’s difficult to find words that adequately describe Balboa Park. Endless scenes of beauty open up everywhere. Every walk is a different voyage through wonder.

Many of these photos were taken recently. A few have been residing in my computer waiting for the perfect moment.

There Are Places I'll Remember All My Life. A colorful banner near door to the Balboa Park Visitors Center.
There Are Places I’ll Remember All My Life. A colorful banner near door to the Balboa Park Visitors Center.
Gigantic bubbles form like magic in the Plaza de Balboa.
Gigantic bubbles form like magic in the Plaza de Balboa.
The House of Charm's tower rises above the Alcazar Garden.
The House of Charm’s tower rises above the Alcazar Garden.
A twisted, wonderful Australian tea tree on Balboa Park's West Mesa.
A twisted, wonderful Australian tea tree on Balboa Park’s West Mesa.
Walking through the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
Walking through the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
Wedding photos are taken at one end of the beautiful Lily Pond, or reflecting pool.
Wedding photos are taken at one end of the beautiful Lily Pond, or reflecting pool.
Sunlight reveals natural beauty at the House of Hospitality.
Sunlight reveals natural beauty at the House of Hospitality.
People head up toward the Casa del Prado's outdoor courtyard to enjoy another special event in Balboa Park.
People head up toward the Casa del Prado’s outdoor courtyard to enjoy another special event in Balboa Park.
I took this striking photo yesterday at the San Diego Fern Society Show inside the Casa del Prado.
I took this striking photo yesterday at the San Diego Fern Society Show inside the Casa del Prado.
People relax and picnic on the lawn near the Botanical Building.
People relax and picnic on the lawn near the Botanical Building.
A scene of great beauty in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
A scene of great natural beauty in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Visitors to Balboa Park walk toward the Plaza de Panama.
Visitors to Balboa Park head toward the Plaza de Panama.
Walking along. More things to see.
Walking along. More things to see.
Gazing toward Balboa Park's Pepper Grove from the pathway inside the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Gazing toward Balboa Park’s Pepper Grove from a pathway inside the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Abundant beauty at the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden.
Abundant beauty at the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden.
Resting at tables in the Plaza de Panama near the front of the San Diego Museum of Art.
Resting at tables in the Plaza de Panama near the front of the San Diego Museum of Art.
San Diego sunshine highlights arches at the Casa del Prado.
San Diego sunshine highlights arches inside the Casa del Prado.
Sitting along the colonnade at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Sitting along the colonnade at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during an outdoor concert.
Walking past the magnificent facade of the Casa del Prado Theater.
Walking past the magnificent facade of the Casa del Prado Theater.
Bright flowers near a window at the International Cottages.
Flowers brighten a window at the International Cottages.
A leisurely walk through Spanish Village.
A leisurely stroll through Spanish Village.
The amazing tile dome of the California Building, home of the Museum of Man.
The amazing tile dome of the California Building, home of the Museum of Man.
The Bea Evenson Fountain lit at night.
The Bea Evenson Fountain lit at night.
Balboa Park contains endless scenes of amazing beauty.
Balboa Park contains endless scenes of amazing beauty.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park, too? Check out my other website Beautiful Balboa Park!

More color and creativity in Spanish Village!

Visitors to the Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park walk through a sunlit paradise of color and creativity.
Visitors to the Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park walk through a sunlit paradise of color and creativity.

Over the past five years, I’ve blogged about Spanish Village Art Center many times, on Cool San Diego Sights and on my other website Beautiful Balboa Park. Spanish Village one of my go-to places when I need to feel optimistic, free and alive.

Whenever I stroll around the many art studios, I feel like I’ve entered a kaleidoscope of living color and creativity. It’s a wonderful place to visit if you want to feel inspired.

Lovers of art in San Diego need to swing on by. You’ll find yourself lingering. And smiling.

Sign lists 2018 events, including special shows and sales, in Spanish Village Art Studios in Balboa Park.
Sign lists 2018 events, including special shows and sales, in Spanish Village Art Studios in Balboa Park.
Patio tiles leading visitors to the front door of Studio 26 seem like a Yellow Brick Road of many colors.
Patio tiles leading visitors to the front door of Studio 26 seem like a Yellow Brick Road of many colors.
Surprising color fills four pots.
Surprising colors grow in four pots.
The rear of the Uni-two-corn by sculptor Kim Ogburn, which functions as a seat for two.
The rear of the Uni-two-corn by sculptor Kim Ogburn, which functions as a seat for two.
A dreamlike canvas in front of Studio 31 in Spanish Village.
A dreamlike canvas in front of Studio 31 in Spanish Village.
Someone admires a glass vase created by the friendly glassblowers in Studio 19.
Someone admires a glass vase created by the friendly glassblowers in Studio 19.
Beautiful cacti in a planter near the front door of Studio 18.
Beautiful cacti in a planter near the front door of Studio 18.
An amazing flower outside the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building in Spanish Village.
An amazing flower outside the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building in Spanish Village.
Colorful cats have gathered on the patio in front of Studio 16 in Spanish Village.
Colorful cats have gathered on the patio in front of Studio 16 in Spanish Village.
The local artists in Studio 14 specialize in Kaleidoscopes, Egg Art and Handmade Art.
The local artists in Studio 14 specialize in Kaleidoscopes, Egg Art and Handmade Art.
A painter creates new artwork outside the window of the Southwestern Artists' Association Gallery in Studio 23.
A painter creates new artwork outside the window of the Southwestern Artists’ Association Gallery in Studio 23.
Mary-Ella Bowles in Studio 6 created this fun Fairy House out of a gigantic gourd!
Mary-Ella Bowles in Studio 6 created this fun Fairy House out of a gigantic hollow gourd!
A colorful frog is standing on a leaf outside Studio 10.
A colorful frog is standing on a big leaf outside Studio 10.

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!

Californio history celebrated again in Old Town!

Today, after I checked out the San Diego Cup racing at Mission Bay, I headed to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to see if anything interesting was going on. Somehow I’d forgotten that Stagecoach Days are celebrated in Old Town on summer Saturdays, and so I was surprised and happy to stumble upon Days of the Vaqueros!

I blogged about this exact same event last year, and took lots of photos and provided a fair amount of description and background. I saw many of the same participants again this year, and debated whether I should take more photos.

I love Old Town so much I couldn’t resist. If you want to learn more about life in San Diego when Southern California was a part of Spain, then Mexico, and large ranches employed the original cowboys, or vaqueros, then visit my blog from last summer’s event here.

You might also enjoy reading my blog post about Old Town’s McCoy House Museum, which includes many displays that concern San Diego’s fascinating early history.

Meanwhile, here are a few uncaptioned photographs of what I experienced today…

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!

Morning photos at sunrise in Balboa Park.

Early morning in Balboa Park is a time of quiet and new light. Golden beams from the rising sun crown each beautiful tower and building. The park appears freshly created, bright, magical.

These photographs are from a walk through Balboa Park that I took today around sunrise.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!