Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, 1/24/2016

Established in 1968, Old Town San Diego is an historic state park that commemorates life in the Mexican and early American period in San Diego from 1821 to 1872. It was designated as a National Historic site in 1971. The park has a diverse array of museums, retail specialty shops, and restaurants. The plaza is still used today for historic activities and festivities.

Our first stop was the Visitor Center where we picked up a map of the park (and site maps are also on display at various locations in the park).  A scale model of the original town is on display at the Center.

Five original adobe buildings are still in existence here. La Casa de Machado y Silvas (The Machado-Silvas House) was built in 1829 (and was restored in 1968). The couple lived in the house with their 6 children from 1843-1854 when it became a restaurant and then other short-lived businesses. The property remained in the family until 1933.

An adobe building built in the 1820s was leased to Racine & Laramie and became the first cigar store in San Diego. It was destroyed by fire and has been reconstructed with period furnishings and stock. 

The Courthouse was the first fired-brick structure in San Diego (1847) and was built by the Mormon Battalion. Next to it is the Colorado House (1851), a two-story, wood frame hotel. Both were destroyed by fire in 1872 and reconstructed in 1992 and 1993 respectively.

The Mason Street School was the first public schoolhouse with the first professionally-trained teacher. It was open from 1865-1872 and had an enrollment of approximately 42 students. One third were absent each day.

The building on the right is where the San Diego Union, a pioneer newspaper, was founded in 1868. The building to the left is the Assayer's Office that was built in 1869. 

The adobe hacienda, La Casa de Estudillo, was the home Jose Maria de Estudillo and his family. He was the commandant of the Presidio in 1827.  The hacienda is a U-shape structure around a central courtyard. 

Below are some of the rooms of the museum.

In addition to their own 9 children, Jose and Maria's adopted her sister's 2 children when they were orphaned, 2 Quechan Indian children, and 4 more grandchildren when their daughter died. Mexican and Native American servants helped care for the many children.

The Seeley Stable Museum (1869) was a 19th century livery stable were horses and mules were cared for and vehicles (carriages) where maintained and stored. Wells Fargo provided mail service from St. Louis to San Diego during this timeframe. It took 24 days to traverse the 2,800 mile route (one way)!

There were other displays in the two-story museum including these two of a stable boy's room and saddles.

Popular restaurants and specialty gift shops can be found at Fiesta de Reyes. There was also a Mexican band performing where we were visiting (Sunday afternoon). 

This post represents a fraction of what there is to see and do in Old Town. We always enjoy learning more about the history of the places we visit and this is a great introduction to the history of San Diego. For additional information, check out their website. 

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