Every city has an origin story, a tale, real, mythological, or somewhere in between to explain how the community became what it is today. For visitors to San Diego, the Davis-Horton House (formerly known as the William Heath Davis House) provides a window to the city’s unique history. As the oldest standing building in San Diego, the house not only gives a glimpse into how many buildings at the time were constructed but also into how private individuals lived. Both help to tell the story of San Diego through the ages. The structure was actually constructed here but instead shipped in. Because the San Diego area has little in the way of trees usable for construction, the saltbox style house was pre-built in Portland, Oregon and moved to its current position in 1850. William Heath Davis, whom the house is named after, built his fortune selling supplies to gold rush hopefuls. He dreamed of building a city where San Diego now stands, but fires and a lack of general interest halted these ambitions.
Today the Davis-Horton House is the home of the Gaslamp Museum, dedicated to the fascinating lives of the people who lived there. Each room represents a different part of the building's history. During the Civil War, it was used as an officers' barracks, later on, it was a hospital, and then the home of an accused spy. Self-guided tours begin at $5, and there are special rates for seniors and students. A variety of guided tours are also available. Some believe the home is haunted, and the museum even offers special paranormal tours on specific dates such as Halloween!
Cover Photo by RightCowLeftCoast via Wikimedia Commons