The 1887 Villa Montezuma, still sits empty and vulnerable after six years, despite the willingness of SOHO to operate the site for the City and return the beloved neighborhood historic landmark to active community use.
Designed in 1887 by the renowned architecture firm of Comstock & Trotsche, this ornate, polychrome Queen Anne mansion has been a beloved landmark ever since it was built for the world-famous concert pianist and spiritualist, Jesse Francis Shepard. The colorful artist invited friends and neighbors for classical concerts and mysterious séances in grand rooms with specially commissioned stained-glass windows at a time when cultural offerings were relatively scarce in San Diego.
In 1971 SOHO helped save this palatial house when it first left private ownership in a debilitated state. Now owned by the city of San Diego, it was operated as a house museum for many years by the San Diego Historical Society, but attendance and priorities dropped dramatically in recent years. The society closed it and, in February 2009, gave up the lease and left the house back with the city. This Victorian treasure remains in jeopardy as long as it sits vacant and without historic professionals oversight for maintenance or repairs.
Faded, cracked and peeling paint, the prevailing conditions. Photo by Sandé Lollis
LISTS FROM PAST YEARS
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