The Marston House – A Step Back into San Diego History

Marston House circa 1905.
Marston House circa 1905.

The Marston House in 1905. Before Balboa Park was built.

San Diego’s Marston House Museum and Gardens tells a story that goes well beyond bricks and mortar. Today, this 16-room Arts and Crafts masterpiece on the edge of Balboa Park tells the story of one of San Diego’s prominent early 20th century families, George and Anna Marston and their five children.

George Marston, a philanthropist, civic leader and owner of the city’s premier department store, commissioned renowned architects William S. Hebbard and Irving Gill to build his family an English Tudor-style home. Mid-project, Gill visited his old friend Frank Lloyd Wright and was inspired to change the design. The result is San Diego’s preeminent Craftsman treasure.

The Marston House – A Craftsman Treasure

Living Room - Marston House

A classic craftsman living room.

Visit the Marston House and savor the design. Ponder that the place had solar water heating a century ago. Marvel at the flush butterfly joints that hold together the old-growth redwood paneling in the living room. Admire the Tiffany lamps and caress the Stickley rockers. But don’t stop there.

Table by the Fire - Marston House

Meals enjoyed by the fire at the Marston House.

As natural light filters golden through windows in late afternoon, remember that this was a living home. The place still feels like home. Serene. Comforting. Embrace what it might have been like to be part of the family – and let your mind play. Join George and Anna in easy conversation around their dining room table, with Teddy Roosevelt, Booker T. Washington, Kate Sessions (the Mother of Balboa Park). Listen to the squeals of children scampering outdoors. Be transported. Become part of the Marston House story.

Kitchen with a classic stove in the Marston House.

The latest and greatest in kitchen technology…back in the early 20th century.

Marston House Tours and More

The Save Our Heritage Organisation docents bring the house alive during the daily 45 minute tours of the house. If visiting on a weekend, a calm and tranquil tour through the 5 acres Marston House Historical Gardens is a must. Historic Seventh Avenue Tours are also offered on the weekends.

Marston House Museum and Gardens Information:

Location: 3525 Seventh Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103 (map)
Hours: Friday-Monday (Winter) and Thursday-Monday (Summer): 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: $4-$10, $15 for two tours, $20 for all three tours.

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About Alison

I’m a junkie. Addicted to travel. Logged 15 years as Travel Editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune – a labor of love. But always appreciate coming home to my favorite city: San Diego. My newest labor of love is an app – San Diego Essential Guide – a tool that lets me share with other travelers what I love most about my hometown.

How would you describe your ideal San Diego Day?

I’d meet girlfriends at South Mission for a low-tide walk along the ocean front to Pacific Beach. Before heading back, we’d hit a boardwalk restaurant for an eggs Benedict breakfast.  We’d spend the afternoon at La Jolla Shores with our boogie boards – sun and fun in 72-degree-plus waves.  I’d meet my husband for a sunset picnic on a grassy oceanfront bluff at Coast Boulevard Park. We’d end up at Humphreys Backstage Live on Shelter Island, dancing the night away.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

Can’t think of anyplace I wouldn’t want to be seen in San Diego – except maybe Lindbergh Field, if it would help me speed through security and avoid the body scanner.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguini and red wine?

Dad was a commercial fisherman, so I’m spoiled. Give me barely seared ahi, fresh crab or a fish taco.

What’s your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Fishing – it’s in my blood. But I’m happy doing anything where I can smell saltwater: paragliding from Torrey Pines, kayaking the La Jolla Ecological Reserve, riding my boogie board, picnicking on the beach, chillin’ at a Summer Pops concert.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player?

I’m downloading more apps than music these days. My iPod is full of funky Old School stuff – the best of MJ, Gap Band, Gnarls Barkley, Cameo, Hammer and lots of old Motown sounds: Temptations, Four Tops, The Miracles.

1 thought on “The Marston House – A Step Back into San Diego History

  1. Even from far away, and with a B&W palette, the house seemed like it was built to last. The aesthetic and structure evokes strong features and simple frames. Did they keep the features of the exterior as well?

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