HISTORY OF OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO

CALIFORNIA’S ORIGINAL PEOPLE

The earliest indications of people living in San Diego date back 9,000 years. They called themselves Kumeyaay.  In 1542 explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo reported that the native indians, “were good natured and an attractive people.When the Spaniards arrived, they used the word Diegueño to identify the Indians associated with the Mission.” With the arrival of the Spanish settlements in 1769, many Kumeyaay retreated to the hills.

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Historic Sites located in Old Town San Diego

MORMON BATTALION

Arrived in San Diego in January of 1847 to support the American military garrison during the Mexican War. Five companies totaling over 500 men had been mustered in at Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 16, 1846. Along with 32 women, they made the longest march in military history consisting of 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego. Located at 2510 Juan Street, open 9 am – 9 pm every day of the year.

THE WHALEY HOUSE

According to the Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted, the Whaley House is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The alleged hauntings of the Whaley House have been reported on numerous other television programs and been written up in countless publications and books since the house first opened as a museum in 1960. Although we cannot state positively that the Whaley House is really haunted, the voluminous documentation of paranormal occurrences at the site makes a compelling case. But, if there are ghosts at the Whaley House, who are they and why are they here?

SERRA MUSEUM

This museum is located on the site of the original San Diego Presidio, one of only two in California. The museum chronicles Old Town’s original inhabitants, the Kumeyaay, to the present with classic photos and exhibits. Building was built to honor the site and house the Historical Center.

CASA DE ESTUDILLO

Constructed in 1825 as the home of Don Jose Antonio de Estudillo, a Spanish aristocrat. It became a sanctuary for women and children during the American occupation in 1846. For a number of years it was incorrectly identified as “Ramona’s Marriage Place” from Helen Hunt Jackson’s “Ramona”. The adobe structure is considered to be one of Old Town’s outstanding show places.

Old Adobe Chapel
The Old Adobe Chapel was reconstructed in the 1930’s, after the original structure was razed. The Adobe Chapel was the first parochial church in the first parish of California after the secularization of the missions in 1832.

Casa de Bandini / Cosmopolitan
Originally a one-story adobe, the home of Don A. Bandini. Built in the early 19th century, this adobe was the headquarters of Commodore Robert F. Stockton in 1846. 

 

Church of the Immaculate Conception
Begun in 1868 by Father Antonio D. Ubach. Due to the boom that set in for the New San Diego, the church was not completed and dedicated until 1919.

Colorado House
Originally a hotel, now houses the Wells Fargo Museum. The building is a reconstruction of the 1860 original. The Wells Fargo Museum is a historically furnished Wells Fargo agent’s office, including one of the famous 30 Coaches shipped to Wells Fargo in 1867

San Diego Union Newspaper
This wood-frame structure was prefabricated in Maine and shipped around the Horn in 1851. This first office of the San Diego Union newspaper is restored as it was when the Union printed its first edition on October 10, 1868.

San Diego House
Built in 1830, this was originally a small adobe saloon and provision store, owned by two black men, Richard Freeman and Allen Light, the first two African/Americans to settle in Old Town. 

First Schoolhouse
Built in 1865, the Schoolhouse was the first publically owned school in San Diego County. The building was a one-room, wood-frame, shingle-roofed structure with a ten foot high ceiling. A pot-bellied iron stove heated the room, and a water bucket and dipper provided the only indoor plumbing. All eight grades were taught in the single room.

Johnson House
George Alonzo Johnson, a steamboat operator on the Colorado River and later a California State Assemblyman from San Diego, built this small frame home for his family in 1869.

McCoy House
The McCoy House was originally built in 1869, and was home to California’s first sheriff. It has been reconstructed. Prior to 1851 the land belonged to Maria Eugenia Silvas.

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First Brick Courthouse
Originally designed as a town hall, the 16’x27′ brick building stood on the corner of the plaza facing San Diego Avenue. It had a moderately sloped roof, and the brick walls were whitewashed. Mexican and U.S. members of the Boundary Commission used the building as their headquarters in 1849.

San Diego Sheriff’s Museum
A project of the Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association, located one hundred feet from where the first cobblestone jail once stood. Interactive exhibits from the 150-year history of the Sheriff’s Department; displays include guns, badges, handcuffs.

Robinson-Rose House
James Robinson built this two-story structure in 1853 as his family residence and as the home of the San Diego Herald, the San Diego and Gila Railroad office and other private offices. 

Casa Machado Y Stewart
Casa Machado Y Stewart was originally built in 1836 by Corporal José Manuel Machado. After his death the house was occupied by his daughter Rosa, 

Seeley Stable Museum
Albert Seeley ran the San Diego-Los Angeles Stage Line, which was put out of business in 1887 after the coming of the railroad. Seeley Stables was the Yuma/San Diego stage stop in the 1850’s. 

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