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Preservation Begins at Home

By Alana Coons

There are few places as wonderful as San Diego in which to live or work. SOHO's offices are in the middle of one of the most visited historical communities in the state. We are fortunate in that we get to meet and greet visitors from all over the world. These visitors fall in love with the many wonders of San Diego and all display interest and seek information on historical sites. Tourism is the world's leading industry, and what is called cultural heritage and tourism is its fastest-growing segment.

What is cultural heritage tourism? The National Trust defines cultural heritage tourism as traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes cultural, historic and natural resources.

The National Historic Preservation Act begins by stating, "The spirit and direction of the Nation are founded upon and reflected in its historic heritage." Historic places are the tangible links that teach us about our history.

Heritage tourism promotes the preservation of a community's historic resources, educates tourists and local residents about its historic and cultural heritage, and brings substantial benefits to local economies. With that in mind, SOHO is very pleased to announce that along with our daily museum activities, we are now making our famous SOHO historic architectural tours available all year round! That's right, beginning this March every weekend you can go on a historic tour developed by the people who know San Diego's historic architecture, sites and its history best.

We live in a time when we are all so busy and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed by our fast-paced, compressed, distracted daily lives. Take a break, do yourself a favor and take a look at the great diversity of sites to visit, the amazing parks and preserves, cultural landscapes, the buildings and small towns throughout San Diego County. Go hiking, or just take a leisurely walk through the many historic sites that surround San Diego. We consistently have the perfect weather to explore our historic places and on any given day we have an opportunity to actually stand where history-making events occurred.

Richard Moe, President of the National Trust has said, that "preservation begins locally." So with that charge we offer you this list of some of San Diego's historic sites. Many are out of the way and not as heavily visited as the Whaley house or Old Town and would benefit greatly from your visit. Visiting a historic site whether it be a restaurant, hotel, gift shop, museum or going to a show at a historic theater are all ways that you can help SOHO in its endeavors to keep our heritage.

This is in no way designed to be a complete list, San Diego is extremely rich in her history and you can find pieces of it in every community; be an explorer! While every effort has been made to ensure that the contact information is current, we have not included hours or pricing. We leave it to you to check before embarking on your adventure to discover San Diego's heritage, or as Huell Howser would say "California's Gold!"

Adobe Chapel
Operated by SOHO for the City of San Diego
3950 Conde Street in Old Town San Diego; (619) 297-7511

Alvarado House
The Del Mar Historical Society operates the Alvarado House, Del Mar's oldest house, which is stored at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and open to the public each year during the San Diego County Fair; (858) 755-1670

Balboa Park
America's largest urban cultural park, one of the most lushly planted urban parks in America.
Balboa Park Visitors Center, 1549 El Prado, San Diego; (619) 239-0512

Bancroft Ranch House
Adobe ranch house built in 1863.
9065 Memory Lane, Spring Valley; (619) 469-1480

Box Canyon
On County Road S2, 8.6 miles South of State Highway 78, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, 200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs; (760) 767-5311

Brick Row
Designed by San Diego architect R.C. Ball (who designed Folsom Prison), these ten row houses were constructed by Frank Kimball in 1887 to be used by the executives of the Santa Fe Railroad.
909 A Avenue, National City

Campo Store
Built in 1885, this building was used as a bank, post office, and stage station and served as the social center for the community.
Highway 94 at Campo Circle, Campo; (619) 478-5768

Carlsbad Depot
Built in 1887 by the Arizona Eastern Railway. Restored, it now serves as the Carlsbad Convention & Visitors Bureau.
400 Carlsbad Village Drive; (760) 434-6093

Church of the Immaculate Conception
Dedicated in 1919.
2540 San Diego Avenue in Old Town San Diego

El Campo Santo
The Catholic cemetery for San Diego between 1850 and 1880 where most of San Diego's most well known citizens are buried.
On San Diego Avenue, between Arista and Conde Streets, Old Town San Diego.

Escondido History Center (formerly Heritage Walk Museum)
Operated by the Escondido Historical Society. The park includes an 1890 Victorian home, 1888 Santa Fe Depot, 1920s railroad car with model train and a 1900s barn.
321 N. Broadway Escondido; (760) 743-8207

Frank Kimball House
First house built in National City, 1868, moved in the late 1960s to the 900 block of A Avenue as part of National City's "Heritage Square."

Gaslamp Quarter
A 16-block national historic district, the Gaslamp Quarter is where San Diego's colorful past comes alive and exists hand in hand with modern development and commerce in an active urban setting. It is eight blocks long (from Broadway to Harbor Drive) and two blocks wide (from Fourth to Sixth Avenues).
The Gaslamp Quarter Association, 614 Fifth Avenue, Suite E; (619) 233-5227;

Granger Music Hall
Irving Gill designed music hall circa 1890.
1615 East 4th Street, National City; (619) 477-3451; call for appointment.

Heritage Museum
Operated by Solana Beach Civic & Historical Society. The 1894 ranch house is the oldest surviving residence in the city.
715 Valley Avenue, Solana Beach; (858) 755-2937

Heritage Park
This 7.8-acre county park shows six examples of Victorian architecture including the oldest temple in San Diego.
2450 Heritage Park Row, Old Town San Diego; (858) 565-3600

Heritage Park Village Museum
The park was created as a 1976 Bicentennial project. Its main street is lined with many of Oceanside's original buildings.
220 Peyri Drive, Oceanside; (760) 435-5215

Hotel del Coronado, 1888

Hotel del Coronado
Built in 1888, daily tours given.
1500 Orange Avenue,
Coronado; (619) 435-6611

La Jolla Caves
1325 Prospect Street;
(858) 454-6080

Leo Carrillo Ranch
Historic Park

Built in 1937-1940, the ranch was once home to cowboy actor Leo Carrillo.
6200 Flying LC Lane, Carlsbad;
(760) 476-1042

Magee House
House museum, interpretive period 1880s to the present.
258 Beech Street, Carlsbad; (760) 434-9189

Marston House Museum & Gardens
Operated by SOHO for the City of San Diego
One of San Diego's finest examples of the Arts and Crafts movement, constructed in 1905 for George W. Marston and his wife, Anna Gunn Marston.
3525 Seventh Avenue, Balboa Park; (619) 297-9327 or (619) 298-3142

Mission San Diego de Alcalá
The first of California's twenty-one Spanish missions.
On Friar's Road, off Murphy Canyon Road, at the east end of Mission Valley.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
The eighteenth of the twenty-one missions in California.
4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside; (760) 757-3651

Mission Trails Regional Park
One of the largest urban parks in the United States. Originally used by the Kumeyaay, the park is also the site of the Old Mission Dam.
Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation at (619) 582-7800

National City Transcontinental Depot
Operated by the San Diego Electric Railway Association
922 West 23rd St, National City; (619) 474-4400

Old Poway Park
The Heritage Museum and the Nelson House are operated by the Poway Historical Society. A half-mile train runs on weekends.
14134 Midland Road, Poway; (858) 679-8587, (858) 679-4342

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Please go to for a full listing of the many historic buildings in Old Town. Or sign up for our weekly tour of Old Town.

Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum
Operates both the Campo and La Mesa depots.
Campo Depot: 31123-1/2 Highway 94, Campo; (619) 478-9937, weekends
La Mesa Depot: 4695 Nebo Drive, La Mesa; (619) 465- 7776, weekdays

Pala Mission
San Antonio de Pala, the asistencia of Mission San Luis Rey. Six and one-half miles east of Highway 395 on State Route 76; plaque on State Hwy 76, Pala.

Point Loma Lighthouse
Built in 1855, it is one of the most visited national historic landmark monuments in California.
Cabrillo National Monument, 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, Point Loma; (619) 557-5450

Presidio Park
The site of the first white settlement on the West Coast of the United States. 2727 Presidio Drive, Old Town San Diego.

Ranch House at Warner's
Open and operated by SOHO, the adobe is located a mile south of Highway 79 on San Felipe Road, between Warner Hot Springs and Lake Henshaw.

Rancho Buena Vista Adobe
This circa 1850s 11-room house and museum is a superb example of early California architecture.
651 East Vista Way, Vista; (760) 639-6164

Rancho Guajome, 1853

Rancho Guajome Adobe
1853, one of the finest examples of Anglo-Hispanic architecture in California.
2210 N. Santa Fe, Vista; (760) 724-4082

Rancho Los Peñasquitos Adobe
Circa 1824. There are trails for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding as well as this wonderful adobe house museum.
12020 Black Mountain Road, San Diego; (858) 484-7504

Rancho Santa Margarita y Los Flores
Built circa 1820s, located on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
Fax tour requests to (760) 725-5147 or write CPAO, ATTN: History and Museums Office, Box 555019, Camp Pendleton, CA 92055-5019 or e-mail

Saint Francis Chapel
Established in 1830 in Warner Springs. The Chapel lies on the north end of the city limits and is clearly visible from the road.
Highway 79 to Warner Springs.

Salk Institute
Founded by discoverer of polio vaccine; buildings designed by Louis I. Kahn considered among best examples of modern architecture in the country.
10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla; (858) 453-4100

San Dieguito River Park
The park includes several historic sites including Sikes Adobe, one of the area's oldest adobe homes from the American Era c.1870. An interpretive station is located on the sites of Rancho San Bernardo (1789), the San Diego to Yuma Road (1840s) and the original Town of Bernardo (1880s). 18372 Sycamore Creek Road, Escondido; (858) 674-2270

San Felipe Valley Stage Station The station was built in the 1800's and used for the Butterfield Mail. On County Highway S2, 0.9 mi Northwest of intersection of State Hwy 78, near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

San Pasqual Battlefield
State Historic Park, 15808 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido; (760) 724-3925

Santa Catarina
A campsite for Anza's expedition.
Santa Catarina Springs, 10 mi Northwest of Borrego Springs (4-wheel drive dirt road), Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, ask at Visitor Center.

Santa Fe Depot, 1915

Santa Fe Depot
1915 Santa Fe Depot is an exemplary example of California's Spanish Revival Architecture.
1050 Kettner Boulevard; (619) 239-9021

Self-Realization Fellowship Ashram Center
Beautiful 1937 building and gardens.
Hermitage and Meditation Gardens, 215 "K" Street Encinitas; (760) 753-2888

Serra Museum
Operated by the San Diego Historical Society.
Built in 1929, designed by architect William Templeton Johnson.
2727 Presidio Drive, Presidio Park; (619) 297-3258

Stein Farm
This Victorian farmhouse is surrounded by its barns and fields circa 1890's.
1808 F Avenue National City; (619) 477-4113

Sweetwater Dam
At the time it was built in 1888, it was the highest dam in the US.
Sweetwater Authority, (619) 420-1413

Torrey Pines State Reserve
Located within San Diego's city limits, it remains one of the wildest landscapes along the Southern California coast located between La Jolla and Del Mar.
(858) 755-2063

Town of Julian
60 miles northeast of San Diego situated between the northern end of the Cuyamaca Mountains and the southern slope of Volcan Mountain, west of the Anza Borrego desert.

Vallecito Stage Station
This house became a station on the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Route and in it was made one of the stops of the famous Butterfield Overland Mail stops in the 1800s. Vallecito Stage Station County Park, on County Rd S2, 3.7 mi Northwest of Agua Caliente Springs.

Valley Center History Museum
The eclectic offerings feature a replica of an early settler's cabin and sections of an airplane, which was built within two years of the Wright Brothers first flight and later flew out of Valley Center.
29200 Cole Grade Road, Valley Center; (760) 749-2993

Warner's Hot Springs
Warner Springs Ranch, 31652 Highway 79, Warner Springs, CA 92086; (760) 782-4200

Whaley House, 1856

Whaley House
If you are a member of SOHO and haven't visited the house yet, you have been missing out! Admission is free to members.
2476 San Diego Avenue in Old Town San Diego; (619) 297-7511

William Heath Davis House
An important early home, it is the oldest wooden structure in downtown San Diego.
410 Island Avenue; (619) 233-4692

William Pittenger House
Fallbrook Historical Society museum complex is centered around the country home of William Pittenger, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient.
260 Rocky Crest Road/South Hill, Fallbrook;
(760) 723-4125 or (760) 728-7964

All photos by Sandé Lollis

2006 - Volume 37, Issue 1


VIEW digital online version

Without Our Members

How Will Our Children Know?

Preservation Begins at Home

City of Encinitas Approved its First Historic Landmark & Mills Act Contract
Announcing SOHO Historical Tours A Year Round Program

Encinitas Loses a Landmark

Frank Lloyd Wright's Legacy in San Diego

2006 Resource Directory (Opens pdf in separate window)

In Memoriam: Al Alferos

SOHO Extends Appreciation

La Pastorela at the Old Adobe Chapel


Because We Need You Now More Than Ever

If You Care About San Diego, Ask a Friend to Join SOHO!
SOHO Membership Survey (Opens pdf in separate window)

Strength in Numbers

Lost San Diego

VIEW digital online version

DOWNLOAD full magazine as pdf (8.4mb)


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