Archive | April 2013

California Historical Landmark No. 888: Hayes Mansion

The Hayes Mansion is a massive century-old mansion located in San Jose, California (Santa Clara County), which was home to a prominent local family. I visited the Hayes Mansion on my road trip up to the Bay Area at the end of February, after being lured in by the landmark signs from the highway. This landmark dates back to 1905, and is currently a luxury hotel and conference center.

California Historical Landmark No. 888

The Hayes family was originally from Wisconsin, and moved to San Jose in the late 1880s. Commissioned in 1903 and completed in 1905 to replace an earlier house that had been destroyed by fire in 1899, the mansion was to house Mary Folsom Hayes (now married to San Jose attorney Thomas Chynoweth) and her two sons from her previous marriage, Jay Orley Hayes and Everis Anson Hayes, and their families. The building was designed by George W. Page in the Mission Revival style, and was over 41,000 square feet, and had many fire-safety features, including the placement of the kitchen in a separate building. While Mary died before the house was completed, the house was occupied by the two brothers and their families, and became self-sufficient with their own fruit and vegetable cultivation. The Hayes’ became proprietors of the San Jose Mercury newspaper in 1901 and Everis Hayes served as a member of the US House of Representatives from 1905 to 1919, while Jay was the founder and president of the California Prune and Apricot Grower Association, which later became Sunsweet Growers.

During its heyday when the Hayes family lived at the site, the mansion was a hub of Santa Clara valley society, despite being separate from the main center of San Jose. In addition to the mansion, the Hayes estate once had its own power plant, post office, chapel, railroad station, carriage stop, and dormitory for ranch hands.

The Hayes families sold the mansion in the 1950s, after which it was left vacant and became dilapidated. The City of San Jose purchased the mansion in 1984 and renovated it in the early 1990s and added the conference facilities, and turned the north section of the property into a public park.

Plaque Text:

    Jay Orley and Everis A. Hayes built this Mission Revival style mansion, designed by George W. Page in 1904. The Hayes brothers were early San Jose Mercury publishers, prominent valley politicians, and were actively involved in establishing the Santa Clara Valley fruit industry. The mansion consists of 62 rooms, 11 fireplaces, and was paneled in over a dozen different woods.

    California Historical Landmark No. 888

    Originally registered December 29, 1975. Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Stella B. Gross Charitable Trust and Mountain Charlie Chapter No. 1850, E Clampus Vitus, April 19, 1986.

The Hayes Mansion is located at:
200 Edenvale Avenue
San Jose, CA 95136

There are a ton of tan landmark signs leading from the area highways to the Hayes Mansion from both US 101 and SR82, and the hotel has a useful map and directions page.

While there is a private plaque detailing the history at the entrance of the mansion building, which describes the history of the Hayes Mansion, the California Historical Landmark plaque is set into the decorative entrance wall, located back on Edenvale Avenue, just north of the driveway entrance. Adjacent to the California Historical Landmark plaque are plaques showing that the mansion is also a San Jose Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Check out my flickr album for the Hayes Mansion, where I have 15 photos of the historic building and its assorted landmark plaques.


More California Historical Landmarks around San Diego Bay

This afternoon, I decided to celebrate National Park Week with a visit to Cabrillo National Monument at the end of Point Loma. Since I was downtown to start with, I decided to wrap in a visit to Spanish Landing, along the harbor of San Diego Bay…. and after visiting the Cabrillo Lighthouse, I just kept searching for landmarks in Point Loma and Liberty Station.

In all, I visited these California Historical Landmarks:

  • Spanish Landing – No. 891 – at Spanish Landing Park (across Harbor Drive from the airport)
  • Old Point Loma Lighthouse – No. 51 – at Cabrillo National Monument
  • Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery – No. 55 – at the cemetery that is just north of Cabrillo
  • Old La Playa – No. 61 – at the entrance to the Naval Base Point Loma (along with some La Playa Trail markers)
  • El Desembarcadero – No. 64 – Liberty Station area on Farragut Street
  • USS Recruit – No. 1041 – Liberty Station

I’ll post some photos later this week!

Update: Track my articles & photos with the “Visited So Far” link

I did a little revamp of how this blog is organized – now it is easier to keep track of which landmarks I’ve visited, and if I’ve posted articles and links to photo albums about them. Just use the Visited So Far page at the top to see which landmark locations I’ve documented on this blog!

The San Diego County page will still list all the landmarks in San Diego County, as well as when I visited them, but if you just want to get a handy table of contents of my posts about individual landmarks, then the Visited So Far page is the way to go.

If you notice, I’ve got a lot more photo albums linked right now than I do have full articles written, so you can go to the Visited So Far page to check out photos for places I’ve visited but not written up yet, such as:

See any National Park for free during National Park Week (April 22-26)

Next week is National Park Week, and while most of our National Park Service units are always free, next week, even the fee-access areas are free from April 22 to April 26! I think I may head down to Cabrillo National Monument to enjoy the views, and of course, find any California historical landmarks!

Get more info:

California Historical Landmark No. 59: San Diego Presidio Site

Presidio Hill, just above Old Town, is the site of several California Historical Landmarks, and is today a lovely city park for relaxation and enjoyment, with hiking and picnicking opportunities with fantastic scenery and views. Located prominently in the park is the Junípero Serra Museum, which is run by the San Diego History Center. The museum is located just uphill of the original site of the Presidio (garrison) established by the Spanish.

California Historical Landmark No. 59

Prior to Spanish settlement, the hillside was settled by the Kumeyaay people as the village of Cosoy. When the Spanish came to settle Alta California, they established the Presidio, a military fort, in May 14, 1769. The Presidio hill had a strong defensive position, and could keep watch over San Diego Bay, and the Pacific off of False Bay (today’s Mission Bay), while having access to water from the San Diego River. The presidio was the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the US. While the presidio had to fend off an Indian uprising only a month into its establishment, a stockade was completed in 1770. The Mission San Diego de Alcala was founded only two months after the fort was established, also on Presidio Hill, by Fr. Junipero Serra, though was moved further upstream to its present site in 1774.

Around that time, the original buildings of the Presidio were being upgraded to adobe structures, and in 1822, after Mexican independence, the post was turned over from Spain to Mexico, and became the Mexican Governor’s residence until it was abandoned in 1837, when being in the town below was more practical than up on the hill. The site fell into ruin. George Marston, a wealthy San Diego businessman, bought the site in 1907 in order to preserve it, and had the Serra Museum building built in Spanish Revival style in 1929, and turned the park over to the city at that time. While no buildings of the Presidio remain, you can still see the remnants in the mounds just west of the Serra Museum at its parking lot.

Plaque text:

    Soldiers, sailors, Indians, and Franciscan missionaries from New Spain occupied the land at Presidio Hill on May 17, 1769 as a military outpost. Two months later, Fr. Junipero Serra established the first San Diego mission on Presidio Hill. Officially proclaimed a Spanish presidio on January 1, 1774, the fortress was later occupied by a succession of Mexican forces. The presidio was abandoned in 1837 after San Diego became a pueblo.

    California Registered Historical Landmark No. 59

    First registered Dec. 6, 1932. Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation and Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus, August 8, 1992.

The perimeter of the site itself is partially marked with a yellow wall just downhill of the parking lot, and can be entered from a few spots. Most of the site is grass covered, though some mounds form the outline of a building site within the fort site. At the back end of the parking lot is a small pentagonal building that forms a corner of the perimeter wall. It probably stores park maintenance supplies, but has a small staircase leading up to a roof overlook spot, and has a marker on the wall memorializing Sylvester Pattie, the first American buried here (part of a exploration expedition, who was imprisoned).

Following the main roadway downhill, there are also a few other markers and statues: one grove has a statue entitled Padre, a time capsule and the Serra Cross, made out of tiles and bricks pulled from the ruins of the Presidio, and built in 1913. Across the roadway is a larger statue entitled The Indian, by the same artist, Arthur Putnam, around a buried archaeological site that was once the village of Cosoy. Near this statue is an restroom with a rooftop overlook spot for Old Town and Mission Bay. Both statues were originally placed elsewhere but later moved to the park in 1933.

The Presidio site is located about two-thirds of the way up Presidio Hill, in the aptly named Presidio Park.

From Interstate 5, take Interstate 8 east to Taylor Street / Hotel Circle (first exit), and turn right (west) onto Taylor Street. Follow Taylor Street along past the Presidio Hill, and turn left onto Presidio Drive, entering the park*. Follow the road south and it will immediately end in a T, and turn left to stay on Presidio Drive, and it will meander up the hill. The Serra Museum will be on the left, with its parking lot on the right.

The Presidio Site landmark plaque is located at the parking lot entrance, across the road from the Serra Museum. The actual presidio site is located downhill of the parking lot, in the area surrounded by the yellow wall.

*At the park entrance, just east of the intersection of Taylor Street and Presidio Drive, are two more California Historical Landmarks, No. 67 – Serra Palm, and No. 244 – Derby Dike, as well as a marker for the La Playa Trail. At the top of Presidio Hill is another Historical Landmark, No. 54 – Fort Stockton.

If you have time for your Presidio visit, I suggest taking the Old Presidio Historic Trail. It is about a mile long, and is marked with a series of 13 signs from Old Town to the Serra museum. The signs, made by the San Diego Historical Society, describe some of the history of the hill site. We tried to follow it, but went off track after hitting the main steep slopes going up the hill. We did find the last few signs of it as we returned down the hill from the Serra Museum. The first marker of the Old Presidio Historic Trail is at the intersection of Mason St. and Juan St. next to Old Town State Park and the Presidio Hills Golf Course, which is the site of another California Historical Landmark – No 74 – Casa de Carrillo.

See all the photos on my
flickr album of Presidio Hill. There’s photos of the Presidio site, the Serra Museum, and other parts of Presidio Park, the Casa de Carrillo, and related historical landmarks.


California Historical Landmark No. 52: Mission Dam and Flume

Related to the historical landmark site of Mission San Diego de Alcala is the Mission Dam and Flume, located only a few miles away, upstream on the San Diego River.

One of the key reasons that the mission was relocated from the Presidio area (at the west end of Mission Valley) was the need for more water and fertile land for crops. Another reason was to locate the mission, whose purpose was to serve and minister to the native population, away from the Spanish soldiers at the Presidio. In 1774, the mission was moved up the valley to a small rise at a bend in the San Diego River, and the valley just north of the bend was prime farmland to support the mission. However to better control water for both the mission and the crops, a reservoir and irrigation system was needed. This was realized with the Mission Dam & Flume, which was completed in 1816. Today, the flume no longer exists, and the dam, sometimes called the Old Mission Dam or Padre Dam, no longer forms a full reservoir, but still partially impedes the flow of the river.

California Historical Landmark No. 52

After our tour of the Mission, we headed a few miles north and east, following the course of the San Diego River upstream, along the aptly named Mission Gorge Road, leading us into a group of mountains which are part of Mission Trails Regional Park. At the park’s visitor center, we were given some directions to find the Mission Dam, which is easily accessed by a one-way road that cuts through the park along the river gorge.

On the upstream side of the gorge, the land flattens out again, and so the top of the gorge became a good spot to dam the river to form a reservoir to hold water for the mission, six miles downstream.

Plaque text:

    After many attempts dating back to 1774 to provide a reliable source of water for crops and livestock for Mission San Diego de Alcala, a dam and flume system was finished between 1813 and 1816 by Indian laborers and Franciscan missionaries to divert waters of the San Diego River for a distance of 6 miles. The aqueduct system continued in existence until 1831 when constant flooding caused the dam and flume to fall into disrepair. They were not repaired due to the secularization of the missions.

    California Registered Historical Landmark No. 52

    First registered Dec. 6, 1932. Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with Mission Trails Regional Park, City of San Diego, and Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus, May 2, 1992.

Mission Dam by jawajames
Mission Dam, a photo by jawajames on Flickr.

The dam formed a reservoir about 300 yards long, and fed into a flume system, made with rounded tiles, that went down to the mission’s farmland and also to the mission (near where the site of the fountain in the central courtyard).

Nowadays, the ruins of the Old Mission Dam are a highlight of the park system, with a small picnic area located at the dam, and a view point on the north side of the dam. The marker is located at the end of the parking area just off of the road, and the dam is only a short walk away. The dam is also a nationally registered historic landmark, for its role as the first major irrigation project on the West Coast.

What is interesting to note: the Mission Dam is California Historical Landmark No. 52 (from 1932) but the Mission itself is No. 242 (from 1936).

The plaque is located at the end of the parking lot on the north side of Fr. Junipero Serra Trail (road) in Mission Trails Regional Park. To reach the parking lot by car, you can either enter the park at the Visitor Center entrance off of Mission Gorge Road (near Jackson Drive), & continue on the one way road up the gorge. After 1.7 miles, the parking lot is clearly marked and on the left side, when the road becomes two-way again. I’d suggest visiting this way, or at least hiking through the area, to better understand the terrain that the flume had to be built through, and why the dam location was ideal.

Or you can enter Mission Trails Regional Park from the east side (Santee), from Mission Gorge Road, west of West Hills Parkway, onto Fr. Junipero Serra Trail, and follow it until the road turns into the parking lot on the right (and the road becomes one way in the other direction). Located near the plaque are both a Mission Bell marker and a plaque proclaiming the dam as a National Historic Landmark, and other such recognition plaques.

The dam itself is only a short walk west from the parking lot and plaque. If you follow the trail farther downstream, you will encounter a bridge that will let you cross the river and double back on the north bank to the dam and a good vantage point.


Check out my set of photos of the Mission Dam and the landmark plaque.


Link: State Parks moving California’s artifact collection to new location

Just spotted this in the LA Times:

(And yes, there’s the connection between this new government warehouse and Indiana Jones.)