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Robinson Rose House –
Place - Robinson Rose House
2645 San Diego Avenue
San Diego, California
Web Link * (619) 237-6770
The Robinson Rose House is currently used
as the Visitor Center for San Diego's Old Town Historic Park.
Hours: 10-5 daily; Admission: free.
This two story abode was built in 1853 by
successful lawyer, Judge James W. Robinson, who advanced in his
legal career and became a Judge in San Diego, as well as becoming a
positive force in the development of San Diego. It served not only
as the Robinson family home but also was the headquarters of San
Diego Herald, the San Diego and Gila Railroad office, as well as
other private offices.
An excavation of the site was done in 1987.
As nothing was found of the original abode, an exact reconstruction
of the original house as it was built so long ago was accurately
built using old records, historic maps, photographs and other
sources. This abode now serves as Old Town State Historic Park's
visitor center and has on display a wonderful model of Old Town as
it looked in 1872, created by Joseph Toigo.
Judge James W. Robinson (1800-1857) came to
San Diego from Texas in the Spring of 1850, developed a
successful law practice and went on to be a very important force
behind the economic development of San Diego. When Judge James W.
Robinson died in October, 1857, the local newspaper heralded him as
"the most prominent man during the last six years, in every
enterprise which relate to our prosperity and advancement."
He suffered with an ailment during the last
few years of his life and experienced some financial difficulties
according to the letters he wrote to his brother William,
explaining the need for some money that was owed Sarah be sent
After he died in 1857, Robinson's widow,
Sarah Robinson sold the abode to Louis Rose, who probably purchased
it as a family residence. Fire destroyed the roof in 1874 and the
building fell into ruins by the turn-of-the-century, around 1900.
Other abodes were built on top of the foundations throughout the
Though one cannot forget the great
contributions to San Diego, because of the efforts of Judge
Robinson, there were skeletons in Judge James W. Robinson's closet
which came rattling out 30 years after his death in 1857. In Ohio,
it came out that he was legally married to Mary Isdell and the
father of three children, Albinal, Martha, and Robert, whom he
completely abandoned in his early adult years, leaving them in dire
financial straits, with a heavily mortgaged 221 acre farm, which
they had to sell under foreclosure. In 1830, He had gotten a new
start by running away and marrying 18 year old Sarah, even leaving
this first family out of his final will and testament.
Though despicable, his solution for
escaping his unhappy marriage was not unusual in the nineteenth
century, because it was virtually impossible to trace a runaway
spouse. "Robinson's case seems typical. No family member knew of
his whereabouts, until he wrote his brother William in 1840.
Husbands seldom pursued divorce because the courts generally
awarded them custody of the children."
If it were not for a series of unforeseen
events that took place thirty-one years after his death, Robinson's
early years might have remained a complete mystery. Though Judge
Robinson had worked hard to keep his whereabouts from his first
family, they did get just compensation from his estate in 1888.
Sarah had cashed $10,000 in government bonds at the Fourth National
Bank of Cincinnati in 1888. An employee alerted the heirs of
Robinson's first marriage, who contested the will, dragging
Robinson's second family into court.
Though we don't know for sure who is
haunting the place, several entities love the new abode. Because it
is an exact copy of Robinson's abode, perhaps Judge Robinson and
Sarah have moved back in, reliving all the good times they had
together in their beloved house, before the Judge became ill.
Or the entities could be tied to other
abodes built on the site, or perhaps entities while alive who
occupied the businesses and offices also located in the abode.
Several different apparitions have appeared before park
employees and tourists. Some are seen as cloud-like vapors while
others look like people, dressed in 18th century attire.
A clear apparition of a man dressed in an 18th century shirt and
tie can be seen in one of the upstairs rooms, going about his
business when the place is quiet and not open.
- The entities who reside here like to play with the electrical
conveniences, like lights, and enjoy an unauthorized ride up and
down the elevator on occasion.
- Footsteps made by a large man can be heard upstairs.
- Women's hair has been tugged at and played with playfully.
Eye witnesses have given testimony.
sandiegohistory.org * GoThere.com/sandiego
Haunted Places, The National Directory by Dennis William Hauck;