Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Heritage Park ~ Victorian Village ~ Whaley House ~ San Diego, CA

Historic Old Town San Diego is about a mile square and includes some great sights to see within that area.  One such place is a Victorian Village at Heritage Park that is a new location for several homes of Victorian architecture.  This area was dedicated to preserve the beautiful designs of some of those old homes of San Diego and the renovations began in 2010.
Photo shows a group of the homes
Yard and Burton House on street in Victorian Village
These houses were slated to be demolished after WW2 so over the years, public and private funds were raised to cover the costs to purchase, relocate and restore these historic buildings with their interesting stories.  Each home, named after the original family who built the home, has some history written about them on a display board in front.  

Home has classic victorian design with shingles, the corner tower and a veranda encircling it.
Christian House 1889 in Victorian Village
These houses have been completed on the outside and the gardens are lovely, too. The windows were all covered in paper as the restoration has not been done on the inside but one day they will all be available for Inn’s and Bed and Breakfast, following through with the historical theme. 
original builder was John McConaughy
McConaughy House 1887 in Victorian Village
One house has been fully renovated and now operates as the Coral Tree Tea House, so named after the beautiful coral tree that sits in the center of the street out front.  It was busy with a private party while we were there so we didn’t go inside but I took plenty of photos of the coral tree that kept me busy.   
The blossoms are opening up in the warm April sunshine
Blossoms of the coral tree
The coral tree is a Erythrina x sykesll Australia, for those who may wish to check it out further, the color was amazing.  It was gorgeous and complements the street with the vivid color of flowers on there. 
This large tree is blooming with vivid orange blossoms
Coral tree in centre court of Victorian Village
I started to notice more coral trees as we drove around the city after this and saw several; none of them had a lot of leaves but they did vary on that.  I am thankful that our timing was great to see those blooms.
The temple was open for the public to view
Temple Beth Israel in Victorian Village, Old Town San Diego
Temple Beth Israel is the oldest synagogue in San Diego and was relocated in 1978. We did walk through the temple, which is very simple in design.  It is now being operated by the County of San Diego and they will take bookings for special occasions. 
The gas lamp lights the way on San Diego street
Whaley House on San Diego Avenue
There are other heritage homes outside of Heritage Park and perhaps the most famous would be the Whaley House Historic Museum which was built and began as a family home in 1857.  It has had several changes over the years, adding colorful stories to its history, including being a haunted house.  Ghost hunting tours are done once a month and also on Hallowe’en for those who wish to take their chances on seeing a ghost, sure not for me! 
The creative design on the roof of this building is from Victorian era
Side view of The Whaley House Museum Shop 
Next door to the Whaley House is their museum shop that is a gift store and tourist information center. Tickets to tour the Whaley House Museum are available here, they’re both closed on Wednesdays during their winter months.  The building shows a great profile of Victorian style on their roofline.   
There are so many wonderful sights to see in San Diego.  Visit the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park by clicking here and enjoy the sights and treasures there. Then come down to the San Diego Waterfront to see that, too. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Old Town San Diego ~ California ~ U.S.A.

Why we love rv’ing is not likely a secret to anyone who has read this blog.  There are so many places to see that offer incredible sights and experiences but I must say that San Diego, California is definitely one of my favorite cities in the US.  It has been so long since we visited San Diego so I had a long list of what to see but in our few short days there, although we didn’t see everything, we did see lots.

Photo taken from corner of Washington Square
Calhoun Street in Old Town San Diego, CA
Old Town San Diego is a must-see.  It pays tribute to the years of 1821 to 1872 when this was the heart of the community.  The central park called Washington Square is surrounded by buildings, some of which are original and now home to museums and shops.  Historic tours are offered that will give an insight into what life was like back then.  We were short on time so we didn’t participate this visit, but will next time. 
This is in Washington Square, the center of Old Town San Diego, CA
Cannon in Washington Square at Old Town San Diego, CA
The square was where fiestas and other entertainment like bull fights were held.  The cannon sits under the US flag that was raised by a U.S. Navy Lieutenant in 1846 and leaves a reminder of battles fought. The U.S. had declared war on Mexico and the town was won back several times until the war ended in 1848 establishing the boundary between the two countries. 
Site made popular by novel
La Casa de Estudillo 
Jose Antonio Estudillo, a Spanish aristocrat, was one of the wealthy residents and built this adobe in 1829. This building, now a museum, was restored in 1910 and became a big tourist draw to the area that had been largely abandoned when the new city was developed.  It became a California Historical Landmark in 1932. 
The view taken from the door of the room
Display rooms of Museum of La Casa de Estudillo
 The museum includes beautiful rooms that show what their home looked like as well as servant’s quarters and a chapel. It was used as a sanctuary for women and children during the armed conflicts of 1846. This showplace has been promoted as the “Ramona Marriage Place” after a fictional marriage took place here in a novel of 1884.  
The big hotel stands at the corner of Calhoun and Mason Streets
Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego, CA
The Cosmopolitan Hotel is considered one of the most important buildings in all of California due to its history and is called a cultural mosaic, as are other parts of the Old Town San Diego.  The Mexican adobe structure dates from 1827 and the upper level wood framed dates from 1869 to 1888. The multi million dollar restoration was completed a few years ago and offers full service restaurant and saloon as well as guest rooms filled with 1860’s antique furniture. 
Flowering plants, cactus and succulents at gateway
Entrance to Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town
Tucked over in the far corner from the entrance into Old Town is the Fiesta De Reyes. I don’t know the literal translation but according to some definitions, that is the Celebration of Kings held in January in Hispanic and Latin cultures.  To me, it invites me to come in and celebrate what I see before me! 
more plants to enjoy
Bandstand in Square at Fiesta de Reyes
What a wonderful splash of colors to greet us.  You will feel a festive spirit and see a square that features a stage for entertainment surrounded by gift stores, artwork, gardens and restaurants.  They offer daily entertainers from folk dancers to mariachi bands. 
Figure appears to be watching the passers by
Life size artwork on display
It is a wonderful place to eat or to look around their little shops. There are several quirky art pieces to enjoy in this great place as well as some magnificent ones, too.  Just savor the aromas and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere in there.  
pics of different locations in the square of Fiesta de Reyes
Flowers, shops and walkways at Fiesta de Reyes
The sun shines into this quaint little square filled with lots of color and an amazing garden of all kinds of beautiful plants that make it a cozy spot to just sit and enjoy the ambience of the Old Town.  This is what I remember from a long ago visit and it shall always stand out in my mind as being the real heart of the Old Town
The musicians sing for those eating in the restaurant
Serenaders in Fiesta de Reyes
We enjoyed a delicious lunch and were even serenaded by a couple of musicians, who do have a sign taped on their guitars that they accept tips.  That was the cheesy part but they were good and worth it!  What a great way to finish our visit to Old Town San Diego.

Old Town San Diego was easy to access off I-5 in San Diego, CA.  We also found that parking was free in several locations within the square mile of Old Town, always a great thing!
Our next stop was the Heritage Park of Victorian homes, visit there with us.  We then spent some time on the San Diego Waterfront, so many sights to see.


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