Davis-Horton House Part 1

Davis-Horton House

Have you ever read a story so enthralling you wanted to step into the world of the characters? Perhaps you’ve imagined visiting Anne Shirley’s attic bedroom at Green Gables, munching your way through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, or wandering the forests of Narnia. For history buffs, visiting a genuine historical site is a bit like that.

In the course of doing research for my manuscript, WWM, I came across the names William Heath Davis and Alonzo E. Horton numerous times. After a while, it almost seemed as though I knew them. So when I had the opportunity to stop by the Davis-Horton House in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego’s Downtown, how could I pass it up?

Davis-Horton House Antique Crock Pot
The slow cooker in the kitchen is about the size of a small coffee table. Suddenly my 7 quart crock pot seems puny.

Davis was the first visionary to take steps toward creating what would eventually become Downtown San Diego.  After purchasing property southwest of what we now know as “Old Town” San Diego, Davis ordered pre-fabricated houses from Maine and set them up in his “New Town.” For reasons beyond Davis’ control, New Town was not a success and became known as “Davis’ Folly.”

Davis-Horton House Bathroom sink
Hygiene awareness increased in the 1860s after the typhoid death of Prince Albert in England, changing the look of bathrooms around the world. Among other changes, plumbing was purposely exposed for easy cleaning. Despite its fairly modern appearance, this sink dates to 1892.

Already the father of a town in Wisconsin, Horton came to San Diego to succeed where Davis had failed, and succeed he did. He began his town just south of where Davis had begun (where we now have the Gaslamp Quarter) and purchased 960 acres of land. He also purchased half-interest in, and lived in, the Davis-Horton House with his wife, Sarah.

Davis-Horton House Victrolla
The sign behind this beautiful Victrola reads “Davis House Oldest House In New San Diego Built By William Heath Davis in 1850.” See the blue curtain to the left? It’s hiding a secret room discovered after George Deyo passed away. Inside they found a working whiskey still and $5000 in gold!

In 1873 the house was purchased by Anna Scheper and moved a few blocks to its present location where it became the County Hospital. Anna Scheper earned $1.00 per patient per day.

Davis-Horton House Hospital Room
This room represents the County Hospital era of the house, depicting a pre-1900 hospital room. Rather homier than the hospital rooms we have today, isn’t it?

In the 1890s it became a boarding house. The owners of the boarding house adopted a 6 year old boy named George Deyo who, as an adult, began the efforts to preserve the house. This is one of my favorite parts of this house’s story.

You never know how a single choice may shape the future. Tweet this!

As an added bonus there is a traditional museum in the basement of the house, complete with a costume area where they encourage you to dress up and take selfies.

Davis-Horton House Playing Dress Up 1
What do you think? Would I pass? 😉
Davis-Horton House Playing Dress Up 2
Fresh face? Check. Long hair? Umm…. 😛

If you happen to be in the San Diego area, I highly recommend stopping in to visit the Davis-Horton House. As you can see, it’s loads of fun! 🙂 And don’t forget to tag me @KathleenDenly if you take any selfies so we can laugh together!

Pssst! Insider’s tip:  If you have a QR code reader on your phone, be sure to stop by the dog statues in the courtyard outside the house. They’ll talk to you!

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