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Adobe Chapel Welcomes the Old Town Community

The feast of the Immaculate Conception was the biggest celebration during the historic period of old San Diego; it honors the patroness of the port and the city of San Diego. The original festivities began in 1858 and continued to 1919 and were centered on this Chapel, where the statue of the Immaculate Conception, originally from the Presidio Chapel, was displayed.

The chapel's history is one of community and once again on December 8th it was a place where the community gathered when the chapel was reopened to the public on this date in keeping with this tradition. Father Mark A. Campbell, Pastor of the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Old Town blessed the Chapel as a part of the celebration and it was a great show of support that the community of Old Town came out filling the chapel to capacity with many Old Town business leaders proclaiming that December 8th should once again be celebrated in Old Town in the old tradition. Look for this in 2005; go ahead mark your calendars now! Lehn Getz of Cafe Coyote and Jeannie Ferral of Coldstone Creamery provided refreshments for the celebration and we thank them.

Volunteers and staff worked days and evenings cleaning and removing inappropriate items, they cleaned and oiled original pews, woodwork and trim, pile after pile of dirt was vacuumed and swept up from the entire building. Walls were dusted and washed down; all kinds of metal posts around the property were removed as well as concrete blocks. David Swarens made possible the acquisition, delivery and planting of a beautiful 26 inch box California pepper tree that was planted in replacement of where one originally had been. Proper placement of the religious artifacts helped transform the site as well, and just last week replica tin candle sconces were put back in place of the originals lost long ago. A wood and wire cage that was used for viewing of the chapel before has been removed opening the space up and many other details have been attended to. It was an amazing effort in record time. Thanks to all who helped.

We invite members to come and see the beginnings of the restoration of this wonderful historic building and learn of the quest to acquire or replicate its original art and artifacts, including the famous mission bells.

An album of historic photos and postcards has been compiled for display with a history sheet handout for visitors. This is an exciting site and like so many historic sites, there are many layers of historical interest. You will be interested in learning that this is the 'Real' fictitious Ramona's marriage place and that the WPA rebuilt it in 1937 using much of the historic fabric of the original building. The history of the WPA in San Diego has not been acknowledged enough and this will help to display the work of that incredible workforce.

Originally built in 1850 as the home of John Brown, the house was converted to a church by Don José Aguirre in 1858. Father Antonio D. Ubach, formerly a missionary among the Indians, was parish priest here from 1866 to 1907. In 1937, when the streets were realigned, the chapel was bulldozed. The WPA rebuilt the Adobe Chapel on an adjacent site. The Chapel retains many of the interior artifacts from the original Chapel, including the tabernacle, the altar with its beautiful marbleized finish, woodwork including pews, confessional and doors, and José Aguirre's tombstone, which is laid in the floor. The Chapel was used for many things, including a school, town meetings and special events. Now it will be used for educational purposes as a museum and for the public's use as a wedding and special event facility.

We need volunteers to man this site, it is a really lovely place to spend a day and contemplate San Diego's history. Please contact the SOHO office and we will put you in touch with the Chapel's volunteer coordinator Teresa Fistere. The Chapel is located at 3950 Conde Street, between Congress Street and San Diego Avenue, Old Town, San Diego.

All photos by Sandé Lollis

To read more about the Adobe Chapel
SOHO Receives Stewardship of Adobe Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in Old Town
Adobe Chapel of the Immaculate Conception
Our Wish List for the Adobe Chapel

2005 - Volume 36, Issue 1


VIEW digital online version

Preservation Wins and Winners

Happy New Year!

The Ranch House at Warner's

Progress Report on Red Roost/Red Rest

Balboa Theatre

SOHO Files Suit in Del Mar to Stop Demolition

2004 Historical Landmarks

Mission Hills Heritage

SOHO would like to extend appreciation

In Memoriam

Adobe Chapel of the Immaculate Conception

Our Wish List for the Adobe Chapel

Thank You's

Adobe Chapel Welcomes the Old Town Community

An Exciting Opportunity for Volunteers

Bringing History Alive at the Whaley House

Who is the Chinese Gardener at the Whaley House?

Cheap San Diego Housing

Resource Directory (33-page pdf)

Four Treatment Approaches

Yeah, yeah, yeah - Modernism Rocks!

Some Like It Preserved

People In Preservation

Getting to Know Your SOHO Staff

Houses Available, Must be Moved

Notice: Date Moved for SOHO Board Directors Meetings

Notice to all Members with email

Found San Diego

Strength in Numbers

Lost San Diego

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DOWNLOAD full magazine as pdf (4.3mb)


2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-9327
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