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This is one of a series titled Out & About with Jim Frimmer, your Realtor in Mission Valley. Read others in this series by clicking on Out & About.
Where California was born
Mission Valley in San Diego, California, is one of the most happening places in San Diego County. There's shopping, dining, dancing, drinking, golfing, boating, movies.... Just about the only thing you can't do in Mission Valley is snow skiing.
But did you know that Mission Valley also happens to be the place where California was born? Yep. Right here in Mission Valley. At the far western end where Presidio Park sits today:
The site is marked by a beautiful museum, the Junipero Serra Museum, built in 1929 in the Spanish Colonial style. Unfortunately, museums have been hit hard by budget cuts during the recession, so it currently is not open to the public. However, a walk around the grounds presents you with a lot of history about early California if you stop to read the plaques:
The site known as Presidio Hill was first occupied by sailors, soldiers, Indians, and Franciscan missionaries on May 17, 1769. In just 241 years, California went from a military outpost to the most populous state in the Union.
Just two months later, on July 16, Father Junipero Serra founded the first California mission at Presidio Hill although the mission would later be moved about five miles further inland.
The Presidio was abandoned in 1837 after San Diego was officially designated a Mexican pueblo. That meant that Mexican forces rather than city residents would protect the city.
There is a mausoleum on the property. The plaque says the mausoleum is for Sylvester Pattie and he is noted as "Pathfinder." He was the leader of the first party of Americans into Alta California over Southern trails, arriving at the Presidio on March 27, 1828. Sylvester Pattie was born in Kentucky on August 25, 1782, was an officer in the War of 1812, and died on April 24, 1828, not even a month after arriving in San Diego. He is recognized as the first American buried in California soil.
One of the great San Diegans from its early history was George White Marston (1850-1946). Marston set about to acquire Presidio Hill and surrounding lands to create a public space recognizing the birthplace of San Diego and California. What you see at Presidio Hill — the buildings, the parks, the trees, the trails — are the result of his work. Most of the giant eucalyptus trees you see on the Presidio grounds were planted by Marston.
There is a time capsule that was sealed on December 31, 1969, and is supposed to be opened on July 16, 2069, for the 300th anniversary of the founding of the San Diego Mission by Father Serra.
The views of Mission Valley from the top of Presidio Hill are spectacular. On a clear day after the fog and marine layer have dissipated, you can see forever: Mission Bay, Mount Soledad, University of San Diego.... So take some time off, stop by, walk the trails, have a picnic, and enjoy yourself. This is where San Diego and California began!