Historic San Diego Properties

The photo below was taken June 1, 1937:

The photo was taken as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey. The survey started in December 1933 as one of the programs inaugurated during the New Deal to help relieve unemployment during the Great Depression. In this particular instance, Charles E. Peterson, an employee of the National Park Service, proposed to put unemployed architects  and draftsmen to work documenting historic buildings across the country.

When this photo was taken, the adobe house at 2745 San Diego Avenue in Old Town had been standing since at least the early 1830s, erected in what was then the Pueblo of San Diego in the then Mexican province of Alta California. It was built, according to the team’s research, by Jose Manuel Machado, a corporal stationed at the Mexican army’s presidio. He is said to have built the house as a wedding gift to his daughter Maria Antonia and her husband Jose Antonio Nicasio Silvas.

The survey described the house in detail, both its original adobe structure (“the natural soil served as floor in the first years of use…”) and briefly described additions that had been made over the years. The house was under Machado-Silvas family ownership for over a century but was in the hands of a real estate company when the survey was taken in 1937. But the survey’s work to preserve history succeeded in 1968 when the property became part of Old Town State Historic Park, where you can visit La Casa de Machado y Silvas.

The story of Casa de Machado is one of many historic San Diego County properties which history seekers can visit digitally by going to the Library of Congress website, https://www.loc.gov , clicking on “Digital Collections, then “Historic American Buildings Survey.”

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