Located in one of San Diego’s few untouched preserves lays a bit of the city’s early history: the Lopez House. The backstory begins with Ignacio Lopez, an early pioneer in San Diego and part of a once influential family. Ignacio was a leatherjacket soldier and stationed at the Presidio. He was later elected to public office in 1822 and participated in the rebellion at the Presidio in 1831 with his sons, Juan and Jose.
Juan built the beloved Casa de Lopez which is located in Old Town and registered as an historic site. His daughter, Eustaquia, was the mother of Pio Pico. One of Ignacio’s sons, Jose Ramon, was given a land grant by Pio Pico in 1840 which is where the Lopez House was eventually built.
In 1890, Jose built their first homestead on the land, which was a wooden, 800 sq. ft. house. The property was one of the area’s main dairy farms during the turn of the 20th century. It remained in his hands until his death, in which his son, Ramon Lopez Jr., inherited the land along with his two sisters.
Ramon Jr. lived there until his own death in 1953. I find it fascinating that we found an old carving in the stairway that reads “Ramon Lopez 1953” and “entiendeme” above it which translates to “understand me”. Did one of his family members carve that as a memorial for him or perhaps did he carve that before he died?
Shortly after his death, one of his other sisters died of polio. The last remaining sibling then left the homesite and moved downtown, abandoning the house. Being built entire of wood, the fragile house is believed to have blown down during a storm in the 1960’s. Today, it lays in rubble with nothing but concrete slabs. It’s the tiny details and the history itself that make this a worthwhile visit. Look for the initals “JPEC” and Ramon Lopez etched into the concrete.
Apparently there are still remnants of their orchard a little further southwest in the preserve. All that remained as of 2002 were two quince trees, two pear trees and one apricot. Wish I had found this when we were there! The orchard is believed to have been planted in 1890.
Personal Experience: We did this hike in early spring when everything was lush and green. I would not recommend doing this hike in hot weather as you will be walking through a lot of dead grass and shrubbery which is a rattlesnake’s preferred habitat. There is very little left of the homestead but the personalized etchings from a prominent family that helped mold San Diego’s early pioneer history makes it worth the trek.
Next to the property site are two pepper trees, once planted by Jose: