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Casa de Estudillo
Place - Casa de Estudillo
Old Town, San Diego Historic Park
San Diego, California 92110
(619) 220-5422 x5426
One can visit the La Casa De Estudillo
Museum at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
The museum is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
La Casa De Estudillo started off as a grand
Captain Jose Maria de Estudillo, commander
of the San Diego presidio, began to build this find adobe mansion
for his wife and his children, near the end of his life in 1927.
Though he completed the mansion he had envisioned in 1929, after
his death in 1830, his son, Jose Antonio Estudillo, continued to
build onto the original mansion, to accommodate his growing family,
and to be sure they had room for extended family and
Jose Antonio Estudillo accomplished much in
his life, serving the community as a revenue collector, treasurer,
alcalde, and judge of San Diego under the Mexican flag. Under the
American Flag, he also served as treasurer and assessor of San
Diego County. He also was blessed with a lovely wife, Maria
Victoria Dominguez, and their seven sons and five daughters!!!
By the time Jose Antonio Estudillo had
finished his additions to the original mansion, the shape of the
mansion went from being in an L to a U, with the lovely garden
courtyard in the middle of it all. Its thirteen rooms became a
comfortable place to live for Jose Antonio Estudillo's large
family, extended family and a lovely spot for visitors to stay for
La Casa De Estudillo was the family home
for three generations of the De Estudillo clan until 1887, when
they pulled up roots and moved to Los Angeles, to live on their
large ranch there. This lovely adobe mansion was left with a
trusted caretaker, who did everything but take care of the place.
The caretaker sold La Casa De Estudillo's tiles, locks, door and
windows, and let the mansion slip into disrepair.
By 1908, it was nearly in ruins. Nat R.
Titus and John D. Spreckles owner of the San Diego Electric
Company, came to the rescue, just in the nick of time! The John D.
Spreckles hired architect Hazel W. Waterman to restore the original
adobe La Casa De Estudillo.
La Casa De Estudillo began a new existence
as "Ramona's Marriage Place," a commercial venture inspired by
Helen Hunt's romantic 1884 novel, RAMONA. Many of the existing palm
trees, flowering succulents, citrus trees and other
"desert-friendly plants" one finds today in the garden were planted
during this part of La Casa De Estudillo's history to provide a
romantic setting for many a wedding!
La Casa De Estudillo throughout the years
was used as a fort, government office, orphanage, hotel, church, a
private residence and finally a museum, when it was donated by a
private owner, Mr. Legler Benbough, in 1968 to the State of
California. La Casa De Estudillo once again became the de Estudillo
adobe mansion of the 1800s, when it became a home museum, the La
Casa De Estudillo of sorts, showing the public of what it may have
been like in the 1830-1887 era, though no one knows for sure how
the De Estudillo family furnished the place.
The National Society of Colonial Dames of
America helped to provide authentic period furnishings, both from
the Spanish and the Victorian era; 16th - 20th century.
La Casa De Estudillo is a U shaped, 13 room
mansion, with 3 to 5 ft. thick, whitewashed adobe brick walls,
built on a large river cobble foundation. The present,
reconstructed roof is made from rough-cut log rafters (heavy wood
beams), which are covered by cane mats (thatched roofing) and fired
tiles. There is a charming courtyard garden & fountain in the
middle of the U shaped La Casa De Estudillo building, which was
built around this courtyard.
Stepping inside the La Casa De Estudillo is
like traveling back in time, as the visitor sees how the people
lived in this era.
Living Room (Sala) - A large room used for social functions,
parties, gatherings, formal dinners, dances, etc. The floor is
wooden, not tile, making it more suitable for dancing. There is a
Steinway piano which was shipped around Cape Horn, and arrived for
the De Estudillo family in 1853. A painted picture of the good
Captain Estudillo Senior hangs on the wall facing the doorway,
The Master Bedroom - is located right next to the Sala. It has
tile floor covered with area rugs. It has a canopy bed, a standard
in all the bedrooms, a rocking chair, a night stand, and a
Spanish-style hallways/corridors deliver the visitor to the
various bedrooms, both adult and children.
The Chapel -There is a windowless room which was converted into
a chapel for family devotions and for visiting priests. (One sees
what an authentic home chapel looked like).
The Workroom - A place where the servants did their work for the
The Dining Room - Has many items that would have been gotten
from California's "thriving hide and tallow trade of the 1830s,"
via the San Diego harbor, allowing the people to acquire things of
civilized society. (One sees high quality glass and china, carpets,
The museum staff have witnessed a variety
of manifestations by the entities who let the living know that they
are there, while doing things they liked while alive, living in
their beloved adobe mansion.
The entities have shown themselves to the living through
mirrors. Staff have seen human faces in mirrors hanging on the
walls, when they were the only living souls in the room.
Dark forms of apparitions have been seen floating about their
business from room to room.
- An apparition wearing a brown monk's robe as been seen
in the long Spanish-style hallways, especially near the room which
was used as a chapel.
- Staff members have felt cold spots and experienced red flashes
of light in the master bedroom.
- The entities in this Adobe mansion enjoy music!
- Staff have heard music that didn't have any physical
source in this world.
- There was a report that the lid on a music box on
display in one of the rooms lifted up all by itself and its music
began to play.
- Apparitions have been seen dancing across the floor,
perhaps revisiting good times.
- In 1988, a research team gathered together by Riverside Press,
to investigate the presence of ghosts in Casa De Estudillo during
the evening hours. Usually, the living are only in Casa De
Estudillo during the daylight hours when the museum is open.
This research team, while in the process of their investigation,
came up against an angry, indignant presence, not at all happy with
either their research work, or their intrusion into the entities'
time to have the adobe home to themselves.
- Members of the research team were surprised when
brilliant red flashes of light came upon them.
- The photographer was physically attacked by an angry
unseen presence, who broke the camera lens.
- The researchers did record a voice on tape, during an
attempt to contact the entities in this house, telling them to "GET
- CSGR Chad Patterson on 2/15/2003 conducted an
investigation, along with a group of about 4 other investigators, a
Psychic, Virginia Marco, and two guests, during the time frame of
12:00 noon to 1:30 P.M.
- Psychic Virginia Marco saw a handful of entities
throughout the adobe as she walked around.
- In the doorway area, leading from the master bedroom
to the chapel, paranormal readings were picked up and Psychic
Virginia Marco confirmed a presence of a tall man, which supported
Chad's earlier investigation done in 1999 when he felt this same
presence standing behind him and saw a shadow out of the corner of
Because so many memorable moments took
place throughout the years in such a beautiful place, it seems like
a great place for entities from its varied history to gather.
- The entities don't mind sharing their adobe mansion with the
living during the daylight hours, but don't appreciate intrusions
from the living, especially researchers after dark! One of them has
a temper and will show it.
- Not sure who is haunting La Casa ---Probably members of the De
Estudillo family are among the entities, besides a priest and
whomever else became attached throughout the years, enjoying La
Casa. The older section of the adobe, mainly the master bedroom,
the doorway to the chapel and the chapel itself have been the most
active for CSGR investigator, Chad Patterson, who plans to come
back with his team to look further around the place.
sandiegohistory.org * letsgoseeit.com*inetours.com
The National Directory of Haunted Places
William Dennis Hauk
All photographs © Tom Carr