Welcome, fellow traveler! You’ve finally arrived in one of the most meaningful parts of this spectacular city – the Old Town of San Diego. Occupied by beautiful, significant buildings, studded with Mexican restaurants and sprinkled with souvenir stalls, this place has its own well-kept, magical scent from the past.
You’re standing on the exact ground where San Diego started to exist and amaze as a city: the Old Town is the place where Junipero Serra (a Franciscan monk) planted a palm tree on his arrival in California – and the rest is history. What do you say about checking out some of the greatest historical houses around and learning about this exciting history?
The main purpose of this article is not only to point out some amazing places, but also to make a connection between the spectacular buildings you have in front of your eyes and their fascinating background.
All set? Let’s begin!
1. Mormon Battalion Memorial Visitor’s Center
The Mormon Battalion served during the Mexican-American War as the only religious unit in the military history of America. Gathering 543 men, about 33 women (laundresses) and 51 children, the battalion was suggested by Brighman Young, arrived in San Diego back in 1847 (in the month of January) and contributed at securing new areas in many states of the Western lands. The battalion’s veterans had a key role in the westward expansion of America in Arizona, California, Utah, among other Western parts.
This historic site is one of the most imposing ones I’ve seen in the Old Town (close to the park, in a rather quiet area, guarded by a statue and starring some throwback lanterns) commemorates this long, eventful journey and contribution of the Mormon Battalion to the west growth, honoring the memory of the soldiers who sacrificed everything while fighting for the United States of America.
It’s a place that you can’t miss – a place that will reveal historical facts which will introduce you to brave acts and crucial decisions. Located in the peaceful setting of Old Town San Diego, the Mormon Battalion Memorial Visitor’s Center gives you the chance to enjoy some alluring, yet simple architecture and have a sip of history while you’re strolling around these magical sites.
2. Altamirano-Pedrorena House
You can’t simply miss this beautiful house guarded by tall, proud palm trees swaying graciously in the wind. While the shingled roof and wooden, mill-sawn front porch are a perfect reflection of the American influence, its plain white, mud-plastered, thick adobe walls reveal the typical Mexican building practices.
Housing nowadays a jewelry, gem and rock shop, the building that stuns with its cozy simplicity is one of the five 19<sup>th</sup> century historic adobes in the Old Town of San Diego.
It all began in 1842, when Spaniard Miguel de Pedrorena (a ship’s agent originating from Madrid) arrived in San Diego and married one of the daughters of the Estudillo family. The man claimed the lot neighboring Casa de Estudillo, but died before building a house on it. Years have passed by and in 1869, his son (Miguel Jr.) has finally built a family home on the sunny site.
In 1871, Miguel’s sister (Ysabel Pedrorena de Altamirano) became the house’s owner. The building continued being a family residence for many following years. Now, the Altamirano-Pedrorena home is a park concession and one of the main tourist attractions in the Old Town.