Colorful murals at new Old Town Urban Market!

Some very colorful murals have recently appeared in Old Town at the corner of Twiggs Street and Congress Street!

The two newly decorated walls used to enclose Miranda’s Courtyard, which I blogged about many years ago here. The property is being redeveloped into Old Town Urban Market, which is scheduled to open this summer.

The artwork was painted by “memuco” Guillermo Munro, whose other murals can be enjoyed here.

The murals depict Frida Kahlo, a tree full of positive messages, Día de los Muertos imagery, and some of the historical buildings in Old Town San Diego.

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Old Town’s plaza cannon in for repairs!

If you’ve wondered what happened to the cannon that usually stands near the center of Old Town San Diego’s central grass plaza, I learned on Saturday that it’s in for repairs!

The old cannon’s wooden carriage is being restored at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s blacksmith shop.

Seven years ago I blogged about this particular cannon here. I had read at the time it was called El Capitan, and that it was one of two cannons still remaining from the Spanish Fort Guijarros that was built in 1797 at Ballast Point near the entrance to San Diego Bay.

The other cannon, cast in Manila in the 18th century, is called El Jupiter. That one is on display in the Serra Museum atop Presidio Hill. Find a photo of that cannon here.

As you can see, the two cannons do not appear identical. I was told by a friendly gentleman working in the blacksmith shop that this Old Town plaza cannon has a less certain history than its companion El Jupiter. He said there are indications it might have been made in England. We surmised it might have been taken by the Spanish during a conflict at sea. Its exact origin seems to be a mystery.

If you’d like to see this mysterious cannon and its carriage and ask your own questions, head over to the blacksmith shop on a weekend when they are likely to be open. And linger to watch the smiths hammering away at red hot iron!

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Spring roses in Old Town San Diego.

Today I went for a slow, easy walk through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

After turning down a path behind several historic buildings, I noticed bright spring colors in a garden that few visitors see. A straggly, uniquely beautiful rose garden can be enjoyed behind the reconstructed La Casa de Machado y Wrightington, which today is home to the Tafoya and Son pottery shop.

For lovers of roses, this a wonderful little place to seek out. The roses even have signs that identify the varieties.

I took a few photos of the newly opened roses.

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!

A walk around the Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista.

The Rancho Guajome Adobe is an architecturally and historically important 19th century ranch house located in Vista, California. I visited it a little over a week ago and walked around the grounds, learning about the fascinating history of the place while taking a few photographs.

I approached the Guajome Ranch House from the Santa Fe Trail to its south, then circled counterclockwise around the complex, viewing the beautiful arcaded veranda, several cisterns fed by wells, the chapel, and other outbuildings. I spotted various signs and plaques relating the history of the ranch, which was once the home of prominent early San Diego resident Cave Johnson Couts and his wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini.

As you can see, I also stepped into a small museum. That’s where you can purchase tickets to guided and self-guided house tours.

According to Wikipedia: “The adobe was built in 1852 and served as the headquarters of Rancho Guajome, a Mexican land grant. Abel Stearns had given the rancho to Ysidora Bandini (sister of his wife Arcadia Bandini), as a wedding gift when she married Lieutenant Cave Johnson Couts in 1851. It was built with the profits from the cattle boom of the 1850s, when many California ranchos supplied the Gold Rush miners and associated new American immigrants with meat and leather. Couts was appointed sub-agent for the native Luiseño people (San Luis Rey Mission Indians) in 1853. He used their labor to improve his properties in the area, including this one and nearby Rancho Buena Vista and Rancho Vallecitos de San Marcos…”

I didn’t venture inside the 22-room hacienda, but I most likely will at some future time. The old ranch house is located in Rancho Guajome Adobe County Park. Check out the parks website here to learn more.

The following photos provide a taste of what you’ll see should you visit this historic place.

Peering from the veranda through an open door…

The sign reads:

The Carriage Courtyard.

Imagine the activity here where Couts quartered his many servants. The ranch foreman lived next to the gate. Horse and equipment stalls, blacksmith shop, tack room, winery, olive vats and a jail made up the ranch service yard. 300 Indian laborers made the thousands of adobe brick to build the walls, and other materials came from the abandoned San Luis Rey Mission with permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

Guajome Ranch House has been designated a National Historic Landmark

This site possesses national significance commemorating the history of the United States of America

1970

National Park Service

United States Department of the Interior

Rancho Guajome

Formerly attached to Mission San Luis Rey, the 2,219 acre ranch passed through brief ownership by two mission Indians, then Don Abel Stearns, and into possession of Ysidora Bandini upon marriage to Col. Cave Johnson Couts. The adobe ranch house built in 1852-53, is one of the finest extant examples of the traditional Spanish-Mexican one-story hacienda with an inner-outer courtyard plan. It was acquired by San Diego County in 1973 for the Guajome Regional Park.

California registered Historical Landmark No. 940

Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation and Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus, April 26, 1981.

This El Camino Real Bell commemorates the trail of California missions established by the padres and honors the bell’s designer: Harrie Rebbecca Piper Smith Forbes

Dedicated by the Woman’s Club of Vista

9/21/96

At its beginning, Rancho Guajome was a working cattle ranch. Because the West was dry, cattle owners like Cave Couts would turn their cattle out on unfenced pastures. However, during this “open range” period, sometimes cattle from different ranchos intermixed, making it difficult to determine which cattleman owned which cattle. The branding iron was invented as a solution…

Cave Johnson Couts was born in 1821 in Springfield, Tennessee, and died in 1874 in San Diego at the Horton House. His wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini was born in 1828 in San Diego, was married in 1851 at the Casa de Bandini in Old Town (now the Cosmopolitan Hotel), and died in 1897 in Los Angeles.

Included in the museum display are Native work baskets, Southern California style, circa 19th century.

Rancho Guajome Adobe farm equipment included a farm wagon, breaking carts for training horses, a broadcast seeder, a sulky used for racing horses, and a four-bottom Stockton plow used to turn soil to prepare fields for planting.

In the past I blogged about the Colorado House, a two-story hotel that was built in Old Town San Diego in 1851 by the very same Cave Couts. Today it serves as the Wells Fargo History Museum. Read that here.

I’ve also blogged about the El Campo Santo cemetery grave of Juan Mendoza, who was shot in the back by Cave Couts. See that here. (During one walk I spotted another mysterious wooden tombstone with the name Juan Mendoza by a parking lot, across the San Diego River from Old Town. Read that here!)

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A walk past historical buildings in Solana Beach.

Walk along Highway 101 in Solana Beach and you might notice a series of plaques describing historical buildings.

During my most recent adventure in Solana Beach, I took photos of several buildings and plaques immediately south and north of Plaza Street/Lomas Santa Fe Drive. This stretch of highway was the coastal town’s main street a century ago.

To learn more about these and other historical buildings, and to view a variety of interesting old photographs, visit this page of the Solana Beach Civic And Historical Society. They’re the ones who created the plaques.

This first batch of photos is from the 100 south block of Highway 101. All of these small, modest buildings are now home to local businesses, including an eatery and salon.

Stanley Estes’ Radio Service Shop, 1931.
Howard and Irene Witmer’s Sandwiches, Fountain and Sundries, 1927.
Ira E. Conner’s Meats, Groceries, Hardware and Dry Goods, 1925.
Claude E. Miles’ Solana Beach Meat Market, 1926.
William and Angie Kurtz’s Solana Beach Drug Store, 1928.

The next three photographs were taken on the 200 north block of Highway 101…

Ray Hobberlin’s Barber Shop and Residence, 1948.

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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New tile murals at Automotive Museum debut!

Today was an historic day! Four long-anticipated murals have debuted above the entrance of the San Diego Automotive Museum!

Yesterday’s scaffolding has been removed, revealing beautiful tile artwork that will be enjoyed by visitors to Balboa Park for many decades–perhaps even centuries–into the future!

I first blogged about the project back in late 2017. You can read what I wrote here.

As I explained, these permanent tile murals “…are based on murals that decorated the (California State Building) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition….Much of the California State Building’s original ornamentation no longer exists, including the four original murals. They were created for the exposition by Hollywood set designer Juan Larrinaga. Painted on fiberboard to appear like tilework, they depicted California’s commerce, scenic beauty, agriculture and industry.”

The exquisite tiles were created by RTK Studios in Ojai, California.

Those who enjoy at visit to the San Diego Automotive Museum, or the newly opened Pan American Plaza in front of the museum, will now be able feast their eyes on these four truly remarkable works of public art!

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 walk around El Cajon’s Knox House Museum.

A few weeks ago, during my adventure in El Cajon, I walked around the Knox House Museum, which was closed at the time. I took a number of photographs of the historic structure, and the gazebo in small, grassy Judson Park to the north.

The Knox House Museum is operated by the El Cajon Historical Society. The building is a restoration of Amaziah Lord Knox’s original two-story, seven room El Cajon Hotel, which was built in 1876 near the present day corner of Main Street and Magnolia Avenue. The building also served as the Knox residence. In later years the hotel was altered in various ways and greatly enlarged. In 1972 the City of El Cajon purchased the original building and moved it to its present location, at the corner of Magnolia and Park Avenue.

To learn much, much more about the old hotel, the present day museum, and the history of El Cajon, which began in earnest with the discovery of gold in Julian in 1870, visit the El Cajon Historical Society’s website here! Among other things, you’ll learn why the Knox House Museum is painted in such unusual colors!

I spotted this old gazebo in Judson Park, across Park Avenue…

The plaque on the gazebo includes: In 1875 the bustling commerce of ore wagons, stage coaches and other traffic of the times passed this spot on route to and from San Diego and the gold mines of Julian. This land was later granted to the City of El Cajon by the C.S. Judson family…The gazebo was constructed by the El Cajon Historical Society…Dedicated July 26, 1992…This rose garden was presented to the people of El Cajon by the East County Rose Society…Dedicated November 2002…

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Early spring in the Zoro Garden.

Spring sprang two days ago.

Late this afternoon I descended into Balboa Park’s sunken Zoro Garden.

The day’s final rays of sunshine were filtering down to flowers planted along the stone walls and walkways.

I didn’t see any butterflies. Not yet! But I did see early spring color, and the promise of many more flowers 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!

Balboa Park’s hidden Australian Garden.

The nation of Australia presented the City of San Diego with many beautiful plants in 1976 for the United States Bicentennial. These plants can be found in Balboa Park’s seldom visited, little known Australian Garden.

Should you drive into the heart of Balboa Park by turning from Park Boulevard onto Presidents Way, you’ll glimpse the top of the Australian Garden to your right. To see most of the native Australian trees and shrubs, however, you must drive or carefully walk down winding, slightly steep Paseo de Oro, which motorists pass just before they reach the large parking lot behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Look for the Gold Gulch Remote Parking Lot sign. There’s no sidewalk!

You can also reach the Australian Garden by walking south down Gold Gulch Trail, which begins near El Prado at the Zoro Garden. The trail passes under the Space Theater Way bridge near the Fleet Science Center and continues along the east side of the Japanese Friendship Garden. Once you see a fenced area where the green Balboa Park shuttles are stored, you’re there!

Plants in the Australian Garden, according to this page, include: “Grevellia, Acacia, Callistemon, Banksia, Hakea, Stenocarpus, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, and Eucalyptus.” There are no signs in Gold Gulch Canyon at the garden, but apparently there are plans to create trails in this area of Balboa Park and erect an informational kiosk.

In 1935, this small canyon was the home of Gold Gulch, a popular attraction at Balboa Park’s California Pacific International Exposition. According to Wikipedia, Gold Gulch was an “Old West mining town-ghost town re-creation for fairgoers to experience the atmosphere of a mining boomtown… Gold Gulch inspired and influenced subsequent Western theme parks…Examples include the Calico Ghost Town…and the “Ghost Town” section of Knott’s Berry Farm… and Frontierland by Walt Disney.…”

The above photo of the “hidden” Australian Garden was taken from a point above the canyon, behind the WorldBeat Cultural Center and Centro Cultural de la Raza.

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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Another walk in the Village of La Jolla.

On Saturday I enjoyed another meandering walk through the Village of La Jolla. I had only one destination in mind: the rear of a bench at the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial. You’ll see why in a coming blog post!

As I walked along I photographed whatever caught my fancy. The murals you see here I haven’t documented in the past.

The Bishop’s School tower. Designed by noted architect Carleton Monroe Winslow, the Bishop Johnson Tower was added to St. Mary’s Chapel in 1930.
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial by the La Jolla Recreation Center. (Stay tuned for photos of beautiful public art on the other side of that bench!)
Looking out at the Pacific Ocean from the edge of Ellen Browning Scripps Park.
Many people stop to look at sea lions down on the rocks.
People walk along or buy treats on a Saturday by La Jolla Cove.
Gazing down at popular La Jolla Cove.
Mermaids drink free!
The Cave Store is where you can enter Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave through an old bootlegger’s tunnel.
Raymond Chandler at the Whaling Bar, 2018, Raul Guerrero. One of the Murals of La Jolla.
Unity in Diversity. Mural by Gennaro Garcia.
La Valencia Hotel seen from across Prospect Street. The Pink Lady of La Jolla has been a destination of the Hollywood elite, built in 1926.
St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. The 1928 tower was designed by Louis Gill, based on images from Campo Florida in Mexico.
Front of La Jolla Woman’s Club. California’s first tilt-up concrete building, it was designed by pioneering architect Irving Gill in 1912.
A mural I spotted on Pearl Street.
Fresheria mural on Pearl Street, by @el_pekaso

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.