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Estudillo House
"La Casa de Estudillo"


Estudillo House




La Casa de Estudillo

The historical information and descriptions on this page are taken from a brochure available at the casa.

Welcome to La Casa de Estudillo, a social and political center of San Diego during California's Mexican period, 1821-1846, and into the early American period.

Capitán José Maria Estudillo, a retired San Diego Presidio comandante (fort commander), began construction of the casa (house) in 1827 on a parcel of land granted to him by Governor José Echeandí.

At first the house was an L-shaped adobe which later grew to be U-shaped. The original floors may or may not have been tile and, in the sala (living room), wood planking. At present, the roof is reconstructed of rough-cut log rafters covered by a mat of cane and fired clay tiles. The 3- to 5-foot thick walls are made of sun-baked adobe bricks built on large river cobble foundations.

Upon José Maria Estudillo's death in 1830, construction of the house continued under the direction of his son, José Antonio Estudillo, and his son's wife, Maria Victoria Dominquez de Estudillo.

José Antonio Estudillo held many public offices in San Diego. He and other family members acquired extensive land holdings in the county, including Ranchos Temecula and San Jacinto Viejo, near Hemet and San Jacinto; Ranchos Janal and Otay, east of Chula Vista; and Rancho El Cajon. All of these properties were excellent for raising and grazing cattle.

The family descendents moved to Los Angeles in 1887 and left the house with a caretaker. Nat R. Titus bought the casa, almost in ruins, in 1906. One year later he sold it to the San Diego Electric Railway Company, owned by John D. Spreckles.

The Estudillo house was restored under the supervision of architect Hazel Waterman. In 1908, it was converted into a commercial venture called "Ramona's Marriage Place," based on Helen Hunt Jackson's novel Ramona. The casa became part of the California State Park system in 1968 and was restored as a house museum identified with the Estudillo family.

With assistance from the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, the house is furnished with representative items from the 16th to 20th century. Little is known at this time about how the Estudillos furnished their home.




Estudillo House landmark plaque
ESTUDILLO HOUSE
 
HAS BEEN DESIGNATED A
REGISTERED NATIONAL
HISTORIC LANDMARK
 
UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE
HISTORIC SITES ACT OF AUGUST 21, 1935
THIS SITE POSSESSES EXCEPTIONAL VALUE
IN COMMEMORATING OR ILLUSTRATING
THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES
 
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
 
1970




Living Room - sala

The large sala (living room) was the center of activity during social functions. The Estudillo family held formal dinners, dances and other entertainment in this room.

The Steinway piano, circa 1853, was shipped to San Diego around Cape Horn. The portrait on the wall facing the doorway is said to be of Capitá José Maria Estudillo, painted from descriptions given by family members.

living room
living room
living room




Master Bedroom

Next to the living room is the master bedroom. The canopy on the bed helped to retain heat as well as keep pests off that may have fallen from above.

master bedroom
master bedroom




Childs Bedroom

Due to the limited number of people living in Alta (upper) California, many families intermarried. Often, newlyweds lived with one of their in-laws. For this reason, La Casa de Estudillo had many bedrooms available for children, extended family, visiting politicians, priests and friends.

childs  bedroom




Workroom

In a large house like the Estudillo, servants usually worked in one room. Many of the native Kumeyaay people who had been Christianized were trained in European trades at the San Diego Mission de Alcalá. Often they worked as vaqueros (cowboys) and in domestic labor. The construction of this house was mostly done with native labor. In this workroom you can see original floor tile taken from the old San Diego Mission dam and brought to the house during the 1908 restoration.

workroom




Dining Room

The dining room speaks of California's thriving hide and tallow trade in the 1830's. Ships loaded with fine glassware, china, carpets, furniture and other goods from far away places visited San Diego's harbor regularly. Exotic tea and chocolate were also often for trade, as well as everyday items. San Diegans used "California bank notes" (hides) for barter.

dining room
dining room




Chapel

One room of the casa was turned into a temporary chapel for religious services. Also, the visiting priest was provided with a bedroom for longer stays.

chapel
chapel bedroom




Outside views

outside view
outside view

outside view
outside view




Estudillo House



The Estudillo House is located at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, San Diego Avenue at Twiggs Street, San Diego. See map.





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