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Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

11th Annual Vet + Pet West Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

presented by FOMO Bones

December 16, 2018 12PM – 5PM | 401 K Street, San Diego, CA 92101

For more info click here.

Deck those paws with bells so jolly and jingle all the way through the Gaslamp Quarter for The Vet + Pet West Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade presented by FOMO Bones. Pet owners and their furry, feathered, and scaled companions are invited to don their favorite costumes for this jolly promenade and Holiday Pet Market on Sunday, December 16, 2018, at MLK Promenade Park, adjacent to the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter (401 K Street, San Diego, CA 92101).

Entry to participate in the Pet Parade is just $15 per pet in advance, and $20 on the day of the event. FREE for Spectators!

Day-of registration and check-in will begin at 11:30AM. Guests are encouraged to register in advance as space in the Parade is limited and will fill up fast. For more information, please visit

The Pet Parade steps off promptly at 2:00 pm from under the iconic Gaslamp Quarter Archway, and continues up Fifth Avenue takes a left at E street and down Fourth Avenue ending at MLK Promenade Park, where contest winners will be announced and the Holiday Pet Market will continue!  Festively-attired critters compete for bragging rights and prizes in fun costume contest categories. Dogs, cats, birds, and even fish are welcome to take part in this holly-jolly good time!

Registrants can be sure to grab a goodie bag full of fun samples, toys, coupons, and other gifts for your festive fur friends at the FREE Holiday Pet Market, open to the public from 12PM to 5PM with live music, presentations, and festive fun for all. Official viewing stations will be around the Gaslamp Quarter providing patios to view the pets on parade and specials to partake in.

The best vantage points for the Pet Parade are along 4th & 5th Avenues between E and K Street from 2PM – 3PM (arrive early to peruse the Holiday Pet Market and guarantee a great spot to watch the parade).

*Jolly pets welcome. No livestock allowed in parade.

Check-In: 11:30AM

Holiday Pet Market: 12PM – 5PM

Costume Contest Judging Panel: 12PM – 1:30PM

Parade kicks-off: 2PM

History for the Holidays

History for the Holidays

Join us on Sunday, December 9th from 2 PM – 4 PM for our annual Holiday Open House! Our halls will be decked with Victorian-style Christmas cheer and there will be free house tours, docents dressed up in period attire, and light refreshments!  Come experience the holidays at the oldest edifice in the historic Gaslamp Quarter!

The Ghost of Christmas Past – A Victorian Christmas

The Ghost of Christmas Past – A Victorian Christmas

No era has influenced the way we celebrate Christmas as much as the Victorian era. Before the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, Christmas was largely unheard of. One of the most significant cultural shifts within the Victorian period was the introduction of the holiday season, which occurred as a result of the Industrial Revolution. The increase in wealth and the infrastructure allowed factory workers to take Christmas Day and Boxing Day off , and celebrate the holiday with their families. The term Boxing Day originated when the less fortunate opened their boxes of gifts from the wealthier classes. It is still commonly used today in Britain and Canada to celebrate the day after Christmas.


The custom of giving and receiving gifts was originally done on New Year’s Day, but as the significance of Christmas began growing, it was moved to Christmas Day. It also became a time to reward children with gifts, although the gifts differed greatly according to the family’s financial status. At the beginning of the Victorian period, the children of the rich received handmade toys, which were quite labor intensive to make and expensive. The children of the poor received stockings filled with fruit and nuts, a tradition we still have today. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution and mass production, factories were able to produce toys more rapidly and much less expensively, so they became more accessible to all. The size of the gifts also increased. Initially, small gifts were hung from the tree, but as the gifts began to increase in size and complexity, the placement of gifts became “under the tree.” The popularity of the indoor tree grew quickly giving rise to the new market for ornaments in bright colors and reflective materials that would shimmer and glitter by candlelight. The first advertisements for tree ornaments appeared in 1850. One of the most popular ornaments was the glass Christmas pickle. It was hidden way inside the branches of the tree for good luck. On Christmas day, the finder of the pickle was either given a special extra gift or allowed to open his/her gifts first. The tradition of the pickle dates back to a medieval story of two Spanish boys traveling home to celebrate Christmas. They became weary and stopped at an inn, where the innkeeper, an evil man, stole their possessions and hid them in a pickle barrel. Luckily for them, St. Nicholas came along, saved them and sent them on their way. Victorians also placed candles on their trees, which have now been replaced by electric lights.


The Christmas tree, itself, was a tradition brought to England in 1840 by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, from his native Germany. This tradition is one of the most significant aspects of our modern Christmas celebrations.


Mistletoe and holly became popular decorations, and for weeks before Christmas, these greens were sold by vendors on the streets. Holly was the most popular as it was a fairly common hedge on wealthier estates. However, selling holly became a somewhat precarious business if a vendor was caught helping himself to the branches of one such house! Such a poor soul would be lucky if all he lost was his cache of holly and didn’t end up in jail.


What would Christmas be without cards? Believe it or not, they did not begin with Hallmark. The first Christmas card was made in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, who asked an artist, John Callicort Horsely, to create a card Cole could sell in his art shop. The card featured a group of people around a festive dinner table and a Christmas message. Sir Henry had 1000 printed and sold them for one shilling each, which was considered rather pricey for ordinary Victorians. The idea was successful though, and the wealthier families began sending out cards every Christmas. Queen Victoria was a huge fan, and had her children create and send their own cards. In 1870, a halfpenny postage rate was introduced, and printing technology became more advanced, which made this a more accessible custom for the less affluent. By 1880, over 11.5 million cards were printed, and a national tradition was born. Some of the early commercial cards were rather creepy though, as they featured ogres chasing bad children, scary clowns and other unpleasant themes. But – commercialization of Christmas was well on its way!


Another commercial Christmas industry was born when a confectioner, Tom Smith, came up with a new and unique way to sell sweets. His invention was a simple tube-like package, which was filled with candy and small gifts, and when pulled, would snap apart. Voila! the Christmas cracker!


By 1881, simplicity in holiday decorating had given way to elaborate and elegant customs. In Cassell’s Family Magazine, the lady of the house was instructed that it was worth the while to bestow some trouble on the decorations of the rooms and especially on the menu for the Christmas feast. Early Victorian recipes indicate that the traditional mince pies were originally made with meat, a Tudor tradition, but in the 19th century the composition of this dish changed. Recipes without meat, but heavy on dried fruit, became the norm. The turkey also has its roots in Victorian times, as it was the perfect size for a middle-class family, and quickly replaced the traditional goose. Poor people often subscribed to a “Goose Club,” where they put aside small sums on a regular basis to save for the Christmas feast. Thus, this would ensure that even the poorest would have a feast to celebrate. Oysters, often called the “protein of the poor,” were also popular.


After the feast, the entertainment would begin. Victorians loved entertainment and parlor games were a favorite. These games helped pass the time and cheered everyone up. At times, however, they could prove a bit dangerous. Along with such staples as charades and musical chairs, there was snapdragon. Snapdragon was not a game for the faint of heart, as a bowl was filled with raisins, covered with rum and set ablaze. The task was to snatch the raisins out of the bowl and eat them while they were still afire. For the less daring, there was rabbit kissing, in which a lady and a gentleman put a piece of cotton between their lips and rubbed noses until their lips met.


Another form of entertainment was caroling, which began in Elizabethan times, but was popularized by the Victorians, and served as a means to gather around the wassail bowl. Going from house to house and singing might prove tiring, and carolers were usually invited in to share a cup of hot punch called wassail. The basis for the punch was either apple cider or beer, which was then enhanced by adding cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, lemon slices, and sometimes roasted crab apples. The punch often became thick and foamy, and the foam floating on the top was called “lamb’s wool.”


As in modern times, football also became a tradition and form of entertainment on Christmas Day. The games consisted of league matches, which became so popular that they often caused the fans to postpone their Christmas feast in order to attend the game. The first league match on Christmas Day occurred in 1889, and drew a crowd of 9,000.


A Victorian Christmas and our modern Christmas are alike in many ways. The celebration helps to bring family and friends together with feelings of goodwill and sharing. As Charles Dickens says in his Victorian classic, A Christmas Carol, “God bless us everyone.”


The staff of the the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation wishes everyone a happy holiday season, and we invite you to History for the Holidays on December 9, our annual open house featuring the Davis-Horton House lavishly decorated in true Victorian style.


Sandee Wilhoit is the historian for the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. She can be reached at [email protected]

Gaslamp Holiday Kick Off

Gaslamp Holiday Kick Off

‘Tis the start of the season and the Gaslamp Quarter is bringing you all types of jolly with an extravaganza of festivities for all ages to enjoy on Saturday, November 24th! Step into a winter wonderland with a Downtown San Diego twist as the Gaslamp Holiday Kick Off brings on the spirit of the season with a magical night of everything merry and bright: caroling, delicious food and drinks, live entertainment, gift-giving goodies and more! Get ready for a one-stop holiday shop as festivities kick off on Small Business Saturday. Grab your shopping list and head to 5th Ave, between Market & J St, that will be lined with a holiday market with 80 different vendors. Does all that shopping leave you hungry? Duck into many of the award-winning bars, restaurants, retailers, and hotels to imbibe in food or drink perfect for the festive occasion.


Of course, there’s more to the holidays than shopping and drinking, and who better than Santa Claus himself to get everyone in the spirit of the season?! Santa will arrive for a meet and greet at 4:00 PM then at 6:30 he will flip the switch and illuminate the buildings of the Historic Heart of San Diego with festive scenery. The Gaslamp will be decking the neighborhood walls with boughs of holiday décor for families to frolic through and vote for their favorite Gingerbread Structure created by participating businesses! Top off the celebration with festive live entertainment, perfect photo ops for your holiday card, and carolers who will set the merry mood as you enjoy all the beloved Gaslamp Quarter has to offer!



Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday…. and #GivingTuesday.

With the largest shopping weekend of the year close upon us, the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation wants to remind you of the event that finishes it off. November 27th, Giving Tuesday.
What is it?
#GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season: a reminder of the “reason for the season. It’s a celebration of giving and philanthropy when together, on one day, millions of people demonstrate our common capacity to give.
Why take part?
What could be a better way to start the holidays than to support a cause you believe in? The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation works tirelessly all year round to promote our mission of preserving and protecting the Gaslamp for future generations. We know it’s a mission that you, our supporters, are passionate about as well. Help us to continue to serve by donating!
Mark your calendars and become part of this wonderful event!

Explore ways to Give:

The Restoration and Repair Fund is used to restore, repair, and care for the structure of the Davis-Horton House and collections of the Gaslamp Museum. At 168 years old the House is always in need of love and care. Donate today to help keep the House and collections for future generations!
Projects completed in 2018: Original China Cabinet in the Dining Room was re-installed and restored.
Some Projects we hope to complete in 2019:
Repairs to the original wood floors on the second floor of the Davis-Horton House
Cleaning of the Axminster Carpets throughout the House.
Washing the windows to let more light into the House.

Be A Part of Gaslamp History

Did you know the cobblestones in our Pocket Park are historic? Many of the stones traveled to San Diego as ship ballast. When they reached San Diego they were re-purposed as street curbs up and down 5th Avenue.When the Street Curbs were replaced the GQHF saved these historic stones. You can be a part of Gaslamp History by buying an engraved brick!

 Explore Membership!

Membership is a gift that keeps giving all year long. All GQHF memberships include year round admission to the Davis-Horton House and monthly History Talks Lecture Series. Check out the additional perks you can receive at each level. Buy for Friends and Family OR treat yourself to a renewal or upgrade!

Find the perfect membership by clicking HERE.

Gaslamp Museum Flood 2018


SAN DIEGO, CA – November 2, 2018 One of San Diego’s historical treasures, the Davis-Horton House at the Gaslamp Museum, has been hit by a flood. Saving and restoring it has been a real challenge for the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation (GQHF).

The GQHF is dedicated to preserving the architecture, culture and history of the Gaslamp Quarter, a 16 ½-block area designated as an historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. The Foundation operates from the oldest standing residence in the Gaslamp Quarter, the Davis-Horton House, a repository of artifacts, photos and archives that are preserved for residents and visitors from around the world to enjoy.

Floods, of course, are the bane of old houses. The latest flood was discovered on the morning of April 11, 2018, by Sandee Wilhoit, who unlocked the lower level door and stepped into a seriously wet problem. Sandee is the Historian, lead tour guide and a member of the Gaslamp Players. She immediately saw objects floating across the normally pristine floor and her next thought was, “Oh no! The exhibit artifacts!” Grabbing the two mannequins that were displaying vintage dresses, she fled up the stairs to wait for the help she called to arrive to the scene.

This is the most extensive flood this historic house has experienced. Restoration efforts included immediate removal of all items from the area to offsite storage. Fortunately, none of the collection was damaged, but the area involved was rendered unusable, and the Museum staff was left without offices, equipment and supplies. Enter the insurance adjuster, water damage renovation experts, contractors, and City of San Diego Facilities Dept. as the Museum building is owned by the City. Due to their quick work, mold did not get a foothold. Unfortunately, the basement repairs have taken over six months and costs have exceeded insurance coverage. According to Catalina Preskill, Executive Director at the time of the flood, “this event highlighted the need to protect our collections including costumes, maps, documents, newspapers and artifacts. These items belong to all San Diegans and we recognize our responsibility as custodians.”

For an aging historic building, there will always be a need for restoration and maintenance.   This can only be accomplished with the support of our community, members and the generosity of visitors from around the world. A Restoration & Repair Fund has been set up for just this purpose. Everyone will benefit – those who tour the Museum, or take a walking tour of the Gaslamp Quarter, or attend a lecture, or shop in the gift store, or attend a program in the park. If you would like to help, please visit

The Pacifica Hotel

The Pacifica Hotel

All the World’s a Stage….. and More

The Pacifica Hotel

551 Fourth Avenue

 Circa 1910

Architectural Style: Turn-of-the Century Modern

Architect Unknown



In 1867, Alonzo Horton sold to A.S. Seely, a mail carrier from Los Angeles, a one half interest of the original Pacifica Hotel property site , which included spaces 547-557. Mr. Seely paid Mr. Horton $25.00. The owner of the other half of the property was unknown.


Throughout the 1880s, the property changed hands many times, and the structures at the site were a series of small wooden buildings. In the early 1900s, the Excelsior Soda Works, an established bottling company, formerly on India Street since 1893, constructed a new bottling works factory at 557 Fourth Avenue. In 1908, the property once more changed hands. This time Henry Krotzer purchased the property for “next to nothing” according to the local news sources. Krotzer leased the vacated bottling works to H. Lynell, who used the building as a furniture and auctioneering business.


The present building, 551 Fourth Avenue, was constructed between 1910 and 1914.  The structure, a three-story brick building, consists of 40 hotel rooms with multiple lightwells, a 5,000 square foot basement with redwood rafters and several street level stores. In the basement was a steam boiler used for heating and hot water, which remained in use until 2003. Although it has been replaced by a more modern appliance, the boiler is still in the basement.


Between 1914 and 1930, the hotel was first the New York Hotel and then the Midland. The early street level businesses were varied. Between 1917 and 1928, many Chinese companies, including the Golden Gate Company, occupied the space at 555 Fourth Avenue and used it primarily for storage of their excess goods. Additionally, a Chinese restaurant was also a tenant.


Things became more lively in 1925 when the Pacifica Dance Hall moved into the space at 547. The Pacifica remained a tenant until 1928.


The hotel, meanwhile, was rebranded as the Service Hotel in 1930, since it provided housing for the military.


By 1960, the hotel had been condemned by the City for lack of secondary fire exits in the back of the building. It remained boarded up until 1967, when it was purchased by Jim and Violet Seery , with a loan from Home Federal Savings and Loan. At that point, it had deteriorated into more than just a “fixer upper.” The hotel had broken windows, pigeons nesting in rooms, and old and molding furniture and fabric coverings throughout. The basement had approximately five to six inches of standing water in some places, and was stacked with old furniture. After extensive restoration, much of it done by the Seerys themselves, plus the addition of fire escapes in the rear of the building, the Seery Hotel opened in 1969. It remained the Seery Hotel until 1981.


As the Seerys were nearing retirement age, they sold the hotel to Mohan and Kanchan Bakta, and in 1981 the Seery Hotel was renamed the Pacifica Hotel.


The Baktas have continually lived on the property, where they raised five children. The hotel , now primarily a residential hotel, features vintage furniture, shared baths, laundry facilities and many thoughtful amenities such as daily newspapers and washbasins in each room.


Cafe Sevilla, a popular Spanish restaurant and tapas bar, opened its doors in space 555 in 1984, and remained in that spot until 2016, when it moved to a larger location on Fifth Avenue. With its signature flamenco show, it is one of the most popular nightclubs in the Gaslamp.


In 1981, Kit Goldman opened the Gaslamp Quarter Theater in the space once occupied by the Pacifica Dance Hall. This was not without some contentious backlash from Mr. Tom Wen Tang, who had lived on the property for 50 years and was not pleased at having to find a new venue in which  to play Mahjong! Ms. Goldman , who featured innovative drama and encouraged local talent, was managing director from 1980-1990. The theater, which had expanded from its humble beginning in the 99 seat, non-air conditioned venue to a second location at the much larger and more modern Hahn Cosmopolitan Theater saw its original founders and principals retire in 1990.


The Pacifica Hotel has undergone many changes , rebrandings and resurrections since 1910, and after many soil and earthquake tests is now listed as one of the safest buildings in the Gaslamp. The Baktas remain in residence, and the hotel continues to provide dependable, comfortable service to its residents and visitors.


Sandee is the historian for the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. She can be reached at [email protected]

Talk About Drama: The Stories Behind the Curtain at the Horton Grand Theatre

Talk About Drama: The Stories Behind the Curtain at the Horton Grand Theatre

November 14, 2018 at 7pm.  Lectures are free for Members, $5 non-members.

Located in the heart of San Diego’s Historic Gaslamp Quarter stands the iconic Horton Grand Theater- a testament to the transformative power of the Arts. Join us on November 14th at the Horton Grand Hotel as Kit Goldman, Founder of the Horton Grand Theatre, shares stories from “behind the curtain” of how this Historic icon of the Gaslamp came to fruition and how it helped transform the district into the thriving commercial area we know today.

In 1979, when Goldman began her search for a theater space in the Gaslamp, 4th Avenue below Market was a no man’s land. The sidewalks were crumbling, there were no street lights and the Rescue Mission was the major destination.

Although San Diego’s gentry had not ventured below Market in decades she, and her then husband, Dan Pearson, had a burning vision of what the historic district could become. Battling through major obstacles, in 1980 Goldman opened the 96-seat Gaslamp Quarter Theatre on the site of an old Chinese Dancehall in the Pacifica Hotel on 4th Ave and launched the first season of her fledgling theater troupe.

The lecture will take place at the Horton Grand Hotel: 311 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101.

History Talks! is a monthly lecture series presented by the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House. Each month a local historian or specialist will delve into topics related to San Diego and the Davis-Horton House to bring a unique glimpse into the history of our city. Come hear history come alive!



Adult Education Programs at the GQHF

Adult Education Programs at the GQHF

History in Your Community

The GQHF  is happy to bring the history of the Gaslamp Quarter straight into your community!  Our educators can speak about  architecture, early San Diego history, and life downtown from 1850 to 1920.  With the help of photos and props the lessons come alive in the convenience of your own facility.

A Walk Through Time

The Davis-Horton House is the oldest standing structure in downtown San Diego, dating to 1850. The House was a barracks for military officers, home to San Diego’s Founding Father, Alonzo Horton, the first county hospital, a boarding house, an illegal distillery, a look-out for a German spy, plus much more! Through a guided tour, filled with stories about the House and its past residents, visitors can better imagine life in San Diego between 1850 and 1920. There is also a gallery with rotating exhibits based on the artifacts of the Museum collection.  60 minutes.

Historical Block Tour

This program focuses on the historical and architectural heritage of the Gaslamp Quarter as represented through its stately, historic buildings. This one block walking tour is ideal for those desiring  a close-up look at the different architectural styles of  the Gaslamp Quarter., while avoiding a lengthy walk or street crossing. Duration: 45 minutes, 75 minutes with added House Tour.

For those interested in a longer walk, our Gaslamp

Walking Tour encompasses many of the significant buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter and features information on the district’s architecture and history. This tour is generally around one half mile of walking.

Duration: 60 minutes, 90 minutes with added House Tour.


Make it a day in the Gaslamp!  The GQHF has teamed up with the Horton Grand Hotel to create a special experience for groups looking to spend more time in the area. Join us for the tour of your choice and then have Lunch or Afternoon Tea at Ida Bailey’s restaurant in the historic Horton Grand Hotel. The Horton Grand is conveniently located across the street from the Museum.

Pocket Park

Our Pocket Park is featured on many of our tours. It is home to the beautiful bronze statues of Bum the Dog and his friend Greyfriars Bobby. Both can “talk” with the aid of a QR Code and tell their own story. The Park is a wonderful, shady place for a rest before or after your tour.

Education Programs at the GQHF

Education Programs at the GQHF

The Gaslamp Museum offers a range of school programs that can be adapted from preschool through high school. Each program has been designed to highlight an important aspect of the Gaslamp and Downtown San Diego’s history. The Davis-Horton House is a time capsule of early San Diego living history. All tour rates are based on a minimum of 20 students.


A Walk Through Time at GQHF

All Grades

The Davis-Horton House is the oldest standing structure in downtown San Diego, dating to 1850. The House was a barracks for military officers, home to San Diego’s Founding Father, Alonzo Horton, the first county hospital, a boarding house, an illegal distillery, a look-out for a German spy, plus much more! Through illuminating stories of its past residents and an exploration of the House, students can better imagine life in San Diego between 1850 and 1920. $4 per student. 60 minutes.

History with Bum the Dog

K-4th Grades

Children go back in time to the 1890s as they hear about to our beloved town dog, Bum.  They’ll learn about this furry icon of San  Diego history and the many places, historical figures and points of interest that Bum visited. This program is kept onsite with a tour of the House, a visit to the pocket park for a close-up look at Bum’s statue, and a puppet making activity or story time.  Older grades will enjoy a House tour, stories by the statue of Bum, and short walk around the Gaslamp to look at several notable buildings up close. They’ll also receive an activity book on the architecture of the Gaslamp to take back to class with them. $6 per student. 90 minutes.

Culture Connections

5th–8th grade

This 90-minute Walking Tour and House Tour explores the cultural influence of various groups of people such as Native Americans, Mexicans, Filipinos, African-Americans, Chinese, Japanese, and others, on the Gaslamp Quarter. Students will explore the era between 1850-1920, a time when the Gaslamp was a vibrant community of many races, religions, and languages.  The Walking Tour portion will explore the influence of  different cultures on the architecture of the area and the tour of the House will provide a unique glimpse into what it was like to live in that time period.  $6 per student. 90 minutes.


Building Blocks

5th-High School

This program focuses on the architectural heritage of the Gaslamp Quarter as represented through its stately, historic buildings. The stylized structures express the traits of  several architectural themes present within the nationally designated Historic Gaslamp District. This program includes a walking tour to allow students a close up look at several important architectural styles of the Gaslamp and a STEAM inspired building exercise. $6 per student. 90 minutes. Optional tour of the Davis-Horton House available (adds 30 minutes)


History in the Classroom

All Grades

The GQHF  is happy to bring the history of the Gaslamp straight into your classroom!  Our educators can teach lessons on architecture, early San Diego history, and life downtown from 1850 to 1920.  With the help of pictures and props, the lessons come alive in the convenience of your own classroom. Free Program.

Pocket Park

Our Pocket Park is featured on many of our tours. It is home to  home to the beautiful bronze statues of Bum the Dog and his friend Grey Friar’s Bobby. Both can  “talk” with the add of a QR Code and tell their own story. The Park is a wonderful, shady place for snack,  an activity or lunch breaks.


GQHF offers internships to high school students who wish to build their resumes and college application profiles through volunteerism. College and university students may earn course credit through internships offered each semester or quarter. Please contact us to inquire about available opportunities.