Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gaslamp Quarter History meeting summary

The program at the Chula Vista Genealogical Society meeting on Wednesday, 29 July was about the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. The speakers were Melissa Trew on “The History and Culture of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter” and “Every Building Has a Genealogy” by Dan Haslam. The talk summary and brief biographies of Melissa and Dan are posted in San Diego Gaslamp Quarter Program on Wednesday, 29 July .

Melissa's talk summariuzed the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation (GQHF) activities, including the William Heath Davis House Museum where GDQHF has their offices; Walking tours of the Gaslamp Quarter; The "Fallback Festival" in November, the ShamRock celebration on St. Patrick's Day, Private Party Rentals, and the "History of the Gaslamp quarter" exhibit - then and now under development. The two-hour walking tours are Saturdays at 11 a.m., and visit several refurbished Victorian era homes in the Gaslamp quarter.

Dan's talk was about the history of several of the buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter, including the William Heath Davis House; Yuma Building (probably the most famous brothel in San Diego for many years; Old Spaghetti Factory; the Keating Building (which served as the offices for the Simon and Simon TV detective show in the 1980's); the Cole Block, and several more.

The history of the Davis house has been traced to around 1850 when it was built and furnished with items brought around Cape Horn from Portland, Maine by Mr. Davis. It first stood at State and Market Streets, was moved to 11th and G Streets in 1873 and then to its present location at 410 Island Street in 1984. It was refurbished at that time. While at 11th and K, it served as a County Hospital and charged patients $1 per day. Dan says that the house is haunted, and it is on the Ghost Tours conducted by local companies.

This was a fun and interesting program about walking on downtown San Diego's wild side, from a historical perspective. As Dan noted, respectable persons never went below Broadway at night. Some of us native San Diegans have always wondered what happened in the Stingaree and other areas below Broadway. The area was the haunt of many US Navy sailors over the years!

The Gaslamp Quarter is thriving now with many restaurants, hotels, stores, and shops over a 16 block area between 4th Avenue and 6th Avenue, and between Broadway and Harbor Drive. There are 94 buildings on the National Registry of historical buildings in this area. The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation is trying to preserve and redevelop some of San Diego's heritage.

The opportunity drawing prizes today were two sets of two tickets for the Walking Tour.

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