In January 1959, the San Diego History Center in its magazine, then known as the “San Diego History Center Quarterly,” published an article entitled, “Historical Landmarks of San Diego County.” The author was James R. Mills, at that time curator of Junipero Serra Museum, and now a California State Senator
The magazine has been out of print for some time and the staff of the museum has experienced an increasing demand for such an article to be made available again.
As a service both to the members of the San Diego History Center and to the public, we are reprinting the original article and are including the landmarks of San Diego County which have been registered since the original article was issued.
In essence this is a registry of the historical heritage of San Diego County as it thus far has been officially recorded.
What do we mean, though, when we speak of a registered historic landmark? Who administers such a program? What is its purpose? When did it start?
Both the State of California and the federal government have programs which seek to record historic sites. In many respects the programs are similar.
The State of California, in registering an historic site, in effect officially confirms the fact that the state regards the site as having had an overall effect on the history of the state.
Moreover, the state uses its facilities for protection and preservation of the site.
The state program is administered through the State Park Commission, which not only is responsible for providing and preserving recreational facilities for the people of the state and for its visitors, but also is charged with protecting the state’s resources, whether physical, cultural, or aesthetic.
To safeguard our historical heritage, the State of California, in 1931, delegated to the State Park Commission the task of finding and marking all state historical sites. Over twenty historic parks and monuments and over eight hundred historic sites have been established.
Historic parks and monuments are areas administered by the Division of Beaches and Parks, and often are staffed by rangers, historians, and historical guides, who both maintain the areas and give information to the public.
An historic landmark is a building, a spot, or a feature that is of historic importance but is not suitable for operation as a state historic park or a monument. Often local public or private groups maintain the site and provide the staff members to serve the public.
San Diego County contains 59 registered state historic sites at present. Sites are registered by the Director of Natural Resources. There is no correlation between the registry number he gives a site and the historic importance of that site.
In addition to its registered state landmarks San Diego County also contains six registered national historic landmarks, sites which the federal government feels are important to the overall history of the United States. The federal program was begun in 1849, with the creation of the Department of the Interior and is handled through the National Park System, which is given the responsibility of conserving all the resources of the United States, including those of scenic, scientific, and historic value.
Five of the six registered national historic landmarks situated in San Diego County are included in the descriptive list of state registered landmarks. The one registered national historic site which is not state registered is described in the list of federal sites added at the end of this article.