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The McGinty Mansion has stood in skeletal ruins since 2007 when one of the many wildfires we experienced in San Diego wiped it out.  Since then, it has slowly rotted away with man accelerating the process through vandalism and other forms of destruction.  Up until recently, this home was a complete mystery to us.  Who owned it?  What were their stories?  Was it a family compound or used for something more sinister? Perhaps it is the state that it is in today that would bring anyone's thoughts to dark places.

As it turns out, these homes were once a very special place for one family and I am happy to finally shed the truth. The family that grew up here called their property the Martin House. The main house was here when they purchased it in 1967 and after that Bernard Martin continued building. The Martin's lived here for 30 years and left in 1997.  They were under the assumption that the house was bought, sold and still being loved, but sadly, that was the furthest from the truth.

When the Martin's lived here, they had horses that were well-loved and taken care of and a horse corral which still stands on the property today. There was once a beautiful stained glass window in the main house that said "The Martin's", which is now shattered to pieces. Once thriving with plant life, the main house even had a tree growing inside the house that went through the roof.  At the base of the tree was a small fish pond. They once had a grand organ inside the main house as well.

No one can explain the property better than the son himself.  If you are intrigued by this home, take the time to watch this heartfelt video of him returning to his beloved family compound and telling stories of happier times:

 

 

The hike offers great views almost from the getgo.  Make sure to hike in cooler weather as it gets HOT out here and yes, the rattlers do come out full-force!

You will most likely notice this chimney during your climb up the mountain.  It turns out it's been in ruins since at least the 60's.  The old homeowners of the Martin House believe the owner was once a watermelon farmer who lost his house in a fire before they had moved in.  There used to be a reservoir over here as well which is not in our photos as I did not learn about it until much later:

And we made it!

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27 Reviews

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27 Reviews

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  • Sofia
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    I do have a question, do you have any information on who owns the land or if it’s for sale, or is it protected?

    September 21, 2014

  • Vista 4 Life
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    Wish you have some pics of the houses when they were in there prime.

    November 12, 2014

  • Alborz
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    Could you talk to the neighbours maybe they know the history.

    January 5, 2015

  • Ansel Adams
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    I really want to know more about the homes like who lived there what family built it, why they left ? I don’t know just something really interesting about it.

    January 5, 2015

  • Jared
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    I’ve lived near this property for years but I only know a little bit about it. There are multiple legends about this place; some people say that they used to film illegal pornography up there and that’s why it’s abandoned now, while others say that the man financing the construction of the homes died or ran out of money, and therefore they were never lived in and left to rot. Either way, they were most likely built in the early 90’s and it’s clear that they were intended to be luxurious and beautiful homes. Features like the power sun shades and stained glass inserts really accentuate this fact. Just recently, a no trespassing sign and a small barbed wire fence were put up near the start of the trail, so it’s clear that somebody no longer wants people visiting the property. If you do decide to head up there, just be smart, safe, and don’t cause any trouble. It’s a great place to check out for sure!

    July 8, 2015

  • Kirsten
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    I’m a Jamul resident and this area has not burned in 30+ years. This was not in the 2003 or 2007 burn zone. This house was abandoned for another reason — not fire. Great photos — thanks for posting!

    August 25, 2015

  • Victoria
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    I grew up in Jamul (more specifically, the Steele Canyon Estates) and my brother and our friends stumbled across this place on a hike in 2005. We asked around, and eventually the manager of the golf course told my brother it had been a mental institution. He could have been pulling my 12-year-old brother’s leg at the time, but that was as close to a story as we got, so we went with it. We continued to hike to the asylum and explore its many houses and rooms (the house clearly wasn’t as dilapidated then as it is now). If anyone finds out any more information, please let me know, as I am writing a research paper on the origins of it.

    November 10, 2015

  • JOSH!
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    is this place still standing? from the looks of those photos a light breeze could blow em over

    February 23, 2016

  • sdjt
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    Both the road into this place and the homesite itself are private property.

    Please do not trespass.

    April 27, 2016

  • LB
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    Stumbled on this place. Parts are collapsing, yet the roof and and much of structure looks to be in good shape, make me wonder if some of the collapse was due to vandals and not the weather / time. Also one of the garages was in the middle of a construction project when this place was abandoned. Weird.

    July 10, 2016

  • Gracie
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    How do you get through the golf course to the trail?? I know kind of where it is, but not really.. And I don’t really want to get lost haha.

    November 9, 2016

  • Ali
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    Brennan – you’re my kind of researcher! I have copies of some of the records from the Recorder’s Office, but never really wrote any of the researched history for the site. Since you’ve already seen the deed transfer orders, you know this place was built by someone notable. 😉

    December 13, 2016

  • Brennan
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    Last comment – Reason why barbed wire is up now is because the previous deed owner for the past 12 years transferred the deed to a relative on 1/7/2015, and the new owner has apparently taken slightly more interest in the property than past owners… for now.

    December 13, 2016

  • Brennan
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    Adding on to my last comment – Records only go back so far (when it comes to online), but I found that in 1993 the property was faced with foreclosure after double mortgaging the property within 9 months in 1900 (obviously never paid this back), going into ownership of a foreclosure service, to then be sold to middleman that would in turn sell it back into private ownership in 1994. The building has had over 10 deed transfers since 1993, and likely was the victim of being too expensive to consider rehabilitating the structure/land.

    December 13, 2016

  • Brennan
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    So I have been very fascinated about this house and what its origins were, since no one really knows. I dug thru tax and census data, investigated the parcel it is on and looked thru historical aerials. The first guarantee of when a structure was built is 1942, when a topographical map has the entire driveway drawn, as opposed to the 1941 topographical map that had the road going up part way (as it has shown since 1893, the earliest map I can get), but not to where the structures reside. Aerials show it had a pool since at least 1953, and the tennis court, guest houses, and house additions came between 1971 and 1981. The pool appears maintained and filled until 1981 (1989’s aerials are of tremendously poor quality and impossible to tell). In fact the whole property looks well-maintained in 1981. By 1994 though the pool is drained, which I assume indicates it is abandoned (for a house of this size pool maintenance wouldn’t have been difficult, and I doubt the type of person to own this more-out-of-the-way home would neglect property upkeep.) I can assure this was only ever a residential property, not an asylum or institute. All SANDAG records of existing land-use label this as Spaced Rural Residential (Code 1000), if it were any kind of medical or business building it would be listed as such. The property is privately owned still, not by the city or a bank. The land and improvements have a taxable value of $68k as of 2016, the story to this building is still unknown. I am trying to get the original house deed from the Recorder’s office to get more names and perhaps find any kind of document indicating forfeiture, foreclosure, or something that would explain the sudden abandonment.

    December 13, 2016

  • Katrina
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    Spit it out then Ali. (Why be tongue in cheek; WHO “notable” built it?)

    January 9, 2017

  • Jesus
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    This is by El cajon up the big mountain from the golf course. It’s like up the mountain from the shooting range is at.

    September 18, 2017

  • anon
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    I did a title search for you (I am a realtor) it belongs to a vietnamese sounding name. the owner bought it recently. it says its 800k The previous owner in the early 90s was a relative, before that it was an american owner

    January 29, 2018

  • anon
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    FROM YOUTUBE—-Jacob Pockros

    3 years ago

    I finally went here today. Your map was pretty straight forward. We had to park down below near the golf course and walk all the way up the dirt road. The house had an incredible view. On our way back down we ran into a local on a mountain bike who told us that the original owners sold the property in 1985 to an investor who started digging holes in the floor to raise the foundation (the house also needed to be lifted up to do this). He ended up scrapping the project half way through which explains why the house has been sitting ever since. The guy also told us that due to the wildfires of 2003, insurance will no longer cover the house for fire protection. Another explanation for why it may have been abandoned. Such a cool property though and it definitely made my day! Thanks for sharing it on here! -Jake

    January 29, 2018

  • Anonymous
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    Ashley leon I want the location of McGinty mansio

    October 10, 2018

  • Anonymous
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    i’m not a member but can I please

    get the location? This looks so cool!

    December 23, 2018

  • Anonymous
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    It’s funny how my friends and I used to come up here to take photos before we even knew there was any actual history behind this mansion.

    January 6, 2019

  • Anonymous
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    Has this place since been torn down? I am almost positive I have seen it, but the only left of the place I am thinking of is the tennis court.

    March 21, 2019

  • jdjdjlmj (mod)
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    NIce job anonymous! Those are so cool!

    April 1, 2019

  • Anonymous
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    Beautiful scenery, amazing mansion. I took many shots, all worth a little research finding this magnificent place!

    April 24, 2019

  • Anonymous
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    Be careful going here right now, I just went and was bitten by a rattlesnake and spend two days in the ICU. The rain has brought out a lot more of them than usual so be extra alert going on hikes this summer

    June 21, 2019

  • Anonymous
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    I watched the YouTube Video, but never heard him say why they left and who owns the Property now?

    January 13, 2020

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