La Mesa Historical Society

La Mesa Historical Society Welcome to the La Mesa Historical Society! From its agricultural origins in the late 1800s, its community beginnings and short period as a silent-movie mecca in the early 1900s, La Mesa has a rich and colorful past.
Welcome to The La Mesa Historical Society From its origins as a place where cattle and sheep used to graze in the late 1800s to its period as a silent-movie mecca in the early 1900s, La Mesa has a rich and colorful past. The La Mesa Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the community's heritage for future generations. You could say it's "where the past meets the present." Remembering the past while preserving the present. Come. Explore. Discover. Investigate.
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La Mesa Springs 4th of July Parade and Celebration, 1911.  Our young, growing suburban community is seen in this popular...
07/05/2020

La Mesa Springs 4th of July Parade and Celebration, 1911.
Our young, growing suburban community is seen in this popular image of the then annual event centered at the corner of Spring and Lookout (now La Mesa Boulevard).
Although La Mesa will not have such a public celebration this year, we thought we would remind all of our tradition of 4th of July Spirit! Here is wishing you all an extra safe and healthy Independence Day 2020.

LA MESA COMMUNITY ART DOCUMENTATION PROJECThttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/17mM22T9sJrVavV5GlNelerPcTCNHrb5CQ_jVFN8HuXk/...
06/24/2020

LA MESA COMMUNITY ART DOCUMENTATION PROJECT
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/17mM22T9sJrVavV5GlNelerPcTCNHrb5CQ_jVFN8HuXk/edit
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/17mM22T9sJrVavV5GlNelerPcTCNHrb5CQ_jVFN8HuXk/edit

We want to thank all of you for the support of the beautiful and poignant artwork created in La Mesa after the events of May 30th. As of this weekend, approximately half of these wonderful pieces of art had already been removed/dismantled as La Mesa reopens.

Therefore, we want to pass on this great archiving project partnership with SDSU and the Society to document the temporary and ephemeral artwork and its stories.

Jim Newland, LMHS President

LA MESA COMMUNITY ART DOCUMENTATION PROJECT
This project is a crowd-sourced documentation project aimed at collecting and curating digital media files (images, videos, audio) of spontaneous public art that has appeared all around the City of La Mesa in recent weeks. These pieces of art have been created on transitory media, such as plywood, cardboard, river rocks, or sidewalk chalk, or are themselves singular events, such as musical performances, spoken poems, vigils, and more.

The main goal of this project is to collect and preserve digital recordings of these pieces of art for future generations. The long-term plan is to curate them in a robust, publicly-accessible digital repository for future study and/or interpretive display in a museum or online educational context. The project is working with both SDSU and the La Mesa Historical Society to accomplish these goals and is grounded in an inclusive and community-engaged public history approach to local history.

All information and media uploaded to this form will be released under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, allowing for unrestricted public-domain reuse and republication of these media (see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). By entering any information and uploading any media to this form, you agree to the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.

This project is headed by Dr. Isaac Ullah. Dr. Ullah is a La Mesa resident, a professional Archaeologist, and an Associate Professor of Anthropology at San Diego State University. Issac is also a City Historic Preservation Commissioner. You can read more about Dr. Ullah at his website: http://isaacullah.github.io

06/14/2020
Dear LMHS Members, Friends and Followers,

Dear LMHS Members, Friends and Followers,

The past few weeks’ events and experiences, including those in our local community, can only remind us of our nation’s challenging history of discrimination, violence and racism. This is a very personal history for many that sadly continues into the present.

We, the La Mesa Historical Society Board of Directors, wish to acknowledge the loss of life, injury, pain, anger, and emotional impacts of events nationally, as well as those that have come to pass here in our community.

As an institution charged with collecting, preserving and educating on the values and worth of history and historic preservation, we are dedicated to ensuring that all stories of the Greater La Mesa communities are captured, preserved and made available to inspire a better tomorrow.

We commit that our non-profit organization will endeavor to be an institution that collects, preserves, studies and presents the cultural history of all of us without ignoring the stories of any race, gender or creed.

Yet, any great societal movements require ordinary people to come together to effect real and meaningful change. The uplifting response of hundreds of volunteers, including some of our own Board and Society members and partners on Sunday morning May 31st in our downtown is one such effort. Their bringing brooms, brushes, paint and materials to clean up and secure the damaged businesses is a sign of our community’s underlying character. These were not just City of La Mesa residents but those from the entire Greater La Mesa area and beyond. Over the following days numerous artists and community members created beautiful and poignant murals and art that reflected and demonstrated not only our community’s pride and spirit to persevere and overcome—but sending a clear message of empathy and compassion for the greater cause of justice and equality for all Americans.

It is with such actions that our community can continue to live up to its now nearly century old motto of “Jewel of the Hills.” Significant and lasting improvements are still needed but it is a renewed start for fulfilling our potential to provide those opportunities for everyone, especially our communities of color. A goal that La Mesa Historical Society fully supports.

Jim Newland, President
On behalf of the La Mesa Historical Society Board of Directors

06/14/2020

Dear LMHS Members, Friends and Followers,

The past few weeks’ events and experiences, including those in our local community, can only remind us of our nation’s challenging history of discrimination, violence and racism. This is a very personal history for many that sadly continues into the present.

We, the La Mesa Historical Society Board of Directors, wish to acknowledge the loss of life, injury, pain, anger, and emotional impacts of events nationally, as well as those that have come to pass here in our community.

As an institution charged with collecting, preserving and educating on the values and worth of history and historic preservation, we are dedicated to ensuring that all stories of the Greater La Mesa communities are captured, preserved and made available to inspire a better tomorrow.

We commit that our non-profit organization will endeavor to be an institution that collects, preserves, studies and presents the cultural history of all of us without ignoring the stories of any race, gender or creed.

Yet, any great societal movements require ordinary people to come together to effect real and meaningful change. The uplifting response of hundreds of volunteers, including some of our own Board and Society members and partners on Sunday morning May 31st in our downtown is one such effort. Their bringing brooms, brushes, paint and materials to clean up and secure the damaged businesses is a sign of our community’s underlying character. These were not just City of La Mesa residents but those from the entire Greater La Mesa area and beyond. Over the following days numerous artists and community members created beautiful and poignant murals and art that reflected and demonstrated not only our community’s pride and spirit to persevere and overcome—but sending a clear message of empathy and compassion for the greater cause of justice and equality for all Americans.

It is with such actions that our community can continue to live up to its now nearly century old motto of “Jewel of the Hills.” Significant and lasting improvements are still needed but it is a renewed start for fulfilling our potential to provide those opportunities for everyone, especially our communities of color. A goal that La Mesa Historical Society fully supports.

Jim Newland, President
On behalf of the La Mesa Historical Society Board of Directors

MEMORIAL DAY LA MESALa Mesa's earliest record of special "Memorial Day" services date back to the 1890s.  Often referred...
05/26/2020

MEMORIAL DAY LA MESA

La Mesa's earliest record of special "Memorial Day" services date back to the 1890s. Often referred to as "Decoration Day" from its 1868 origins to honor all Civil War dead, by 1916 La Mesa's recognition included a march of veterans out to the then local Evergreen Cemetery (NE of today's Bancroft Drive & Lemon Ave). The ceremony included music, song, scripture and poem readings, decoration of soldier's graves, closing hymns and prayers.

This year's Memorial Day features more personal and private remembrances. La Mesans' spirit of previous efforts to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice are not forgotten.

Happy National Nurses Day!Today we celebrate all health care workers, but especially nurses. Especially during such chal...
05/07/2020

Happy National Nurses Day!

Today we celebrate all health care workers, but especially nurses. Especially during such challenging historic times as today, nurses dedicate their time, effort, and hearts to serve the public. La Mesa’s Grossmont Hospital (now Sharp Grossmont Hospital) has served the community for some 65 years. This image showcases hospital and nursing administrators from 1964. Let's all celebrate these heroes of the world.

Thank you to all health care workers that are dedicated to fighting and protecting the public from Covid-19 and all threats to our community health!

#nursesday #health #covid #apprciation #healthcareworkers #togther #lamesa #lamesahistoricalsociety #togtherbutpart #sandiego #grossmonthospital #essentialworkers #community #sd #covid19

Happy Cinco De Mayo!This date is observed in the U.S. and parts of Mexico to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over...
05/05/2020

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

This date is observed in the U.S. and parts of Mexico to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the invading French Army at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of legendary General Ignacio Zaragoza. In the 1960s Chicano activists in the U.S. began to draw attention to this important day in Mexican History. By 1982, La Mesans celebrated with a festival and art show to honor Hispanic culture and Cinco De Mayo. Children participated in the art show and were given awards for their creativity.

#cincodemayo #hispanicculture #1960s #art #lamesa #lamesahistoricalsoceity #sandiego #sd #1980s #activist #culture #chidren #artshow #mexicanhistory

Happy Star Wars Day!Today we celebrate the beloved Star Wars film series which premiered in 1977 and captivated audience...
05/04/2020

Happy Star Wars Day!

Today we celebrate the beloved Star Wars film series which premiered in 1977 and captivated audiences with a new Si-Fi genre. By 1978, the Force was so strong that it drew La Mesans to join others at the Sports Arena to listen to the San Diego Symphony preform an amplified version of the Star Wars sound track during their “Music from Outer Space” concert.

May the Forth Be With You!

#starwars #lukeskywalker #darthvader #georgelucas #mayfourth #lamesa #lamesahistoricalsociety #disney #sd #sandiego #sifi #sportsarena #maythefourthbewithyou #maythe4th #maythefourth #1970s #space #starwarsfilms #clones

MAY UPDATEThanks to all who are sacrificing for the community.  The Museum and Archives will continue to be closed throu...
05/02/2020

MAY UPDATE
Thanks to all who are sacrificing for the community. The Museum and Archives will continue to be closed through May. Per requests for additional on-line La Mesa history, check out our website and the newsletter archive. https://lamesahistory.com/newsletter/
Forty plus years of articles and LMHS memories available to view.

The next Lookout Avenue will be out later this month and feature a new article on La Mesa's last virus-inspired community shutdown in Summer 1948. Many parallels.

Best wishes and take care!

04/22/2020

McKinney House Landscape Moves Forward
Although our Museum and Archives are currently closed, work continues on our McKinney House Landscape Rehabilitation.
For those driving or walking by, the removal of the old turf has begun. When the site dries out from our early April rains, we will continue with our plans. Keep an eye out for our progress over the next few weeks.
Thanks for all the support and enjoy a few shots of all the work that has been undertaken so far.

EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE TRADITION CONTINUES Since 1917 Easter pilgrims have ascended Mt Helix to celebrate a sunrise serv...
04/12/2020

EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE TRADITION CONTINUES
Since 1917 Easter pilgrims have ascended Mt Helix to celebrate a sunrise service, moving the program from its original location on La Mesa's Mt. Nebo. Ninety-five years ago today on April 12, 1925 was the first in the beautiful Richard Requa designed Nature Theater. Dr. Roy Campbell (with back to camera) led the service. His sermon included praise for the two ladies most responsible for the facility's development, Mrs. Mary Yawkey and her daughter Mary White Yawkey. Fittingly Campbell stated, "It is fitting that this wonderful memorial on this mountain top, baptized this Easter morning with worship and praise, should be dedicated in the name of a woman, a mother and friend." Each Easter Sunday morning such a service has been held, bringing comfort, joy and renown to our communities.

Thanks to the efforts of our community partner organization, the Mt. Helix Park Foundation, this local tradition continued this morning--virtually--in the face of the necessary efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic. If you missed it, it can be viewed here. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZQJG7OvIv97tOG8Ej4ZUDg

The Society wishes the best of Easter and Passover season to all those here in the Greater La Mesa Community.

La Mesa’s communities of faith hold long-standing Easter traditions here in the “Jewel of the Hills.” For those who will...
04/05/2020

La Mesa’s communities of faith hold long-standing Easter traditions here in the “Jewel of the Hills.” For those who will be celebrating Palm Sunday virtually this year, here are some memories of La Mesa Palm Sunday's of the past: In 1955 the Helix High School Highlander Choir preformed "The Seven Last Words of Christ" at the First Baptist Church, Loretta Deeds and Leonardo Kidd married in a Palm Sunday Ceremony in 1955, and the Chancel Choir preformed "The Requiem" by Gabriel Faure at a Sunday evening mass in 1960.

McKinney House Museum and Research Archives Temporary ClosureUPDATE
04/01/2020

McKinney House Museum and Research Archives Temporary Closure
UPDATE

National Vietnam War Veterans Day is a U.S. holiday observed annually on March 29. It recognizes veterans who served in ...
03/29/2020

National Vietnam War Veterans Day is a U.S. holiday observed annually on March 29. It recognizes veterans who served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War (1965-1975). Before this specific memorial day was recognized, La Mesans remembered veterans that gave their lives to protect this country. In 1970 a group of La Mesans worked to build one of the first memorials in the western U.S (it is located on the northwest corner of University Avenue & Spring Street on the American Legion property). Among those brave local Vietnam War soldiers who was honored was Specialist 5 Michael Shanely. Michael was a graduate of Grossmont High School. Through bravery, courage, and strength Shanely served his country until he was reported as missing in action (estimates are that well over 1,200 U.S. servicemen remain MIA in southeast Asia). To keep their son's memory alive, Mr. and Mrs. Shanely later dedicated a tree to their son and other Vietnam War service personnel. This tree is still located in Balboa Park and is named as the Freedom Tree. Let us all take this day to celebrate, honor and remember those that have gave their lives during the Vietnam War.

#veterans #lamesa #freedomtree #balboapark #nationalvietnamwarveteransday #memorial #america #sd #lamesahistoricalsocieity #vietnamwarveteransday #courage #bravery #americanheros #service #military #grossmonthighschool #freedom #hero #honor #remember #nationalholiday #veterans #activeduty #vietnamwar #1970s

Historic SDSU March Madness Normally we all would be in the midst of intently following the NCAA Division I: Men's Baske...
03/25/2020

Historic SDSU March Madness
Normally we all would be in the midst of intently following the NCAA Division I: Men's Basketball Tournament, also known and branded as NCAA "March Madness." In fact it is a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the United States, featuring 68 of the year’s best teams. Especially with the historic season our local SDSU team had this year, we would have been doubly focused. Due to the public health crisis this year's tournament has been cancelled. In order to keep the spirit alive, let us remember our own Aztecs National Championship team of 1941. In March of 1941, San Diego State College’s men’s basketball team won the national “small school” NAIA Championship Tournament in Kansas City. Legendary Coach Morris Gross with star players Milton “Milky” Phelps, Kenny Hale, Dick Mitchell, Harry Hodgetts and the rest of the team claimed the championship after being runners up the previous two seasons. We know this will not erase the disappointment for this year’s amazing Aztecs 2019-20 team but offers a chance to remember that our SDSU “March Madness” basketball heritage is a deep and revered one. Also accomplished in the midst of a world wide crisis (WWII) itself, the 1941 Aztecs clutch performance is one to provide confidence in our abilities to raise above and succeed in challenging times.

If you would like to learn more about the SDSC 1941 National Championship Men's Basketball team here is a link to a few articles that detail our first Aztec basketball dynasty: https://lamesahistory.com/la-mesa-history-gems-historical-stories-from-the-jewel-of-the-hills/

#marchmadness #lamesahistoricalsociety #basketball #NCAA #Aztecs #SDSU #SD #champions #1900s #1941s #nationalchanpionship #basketballhistory #mensbasketball #history #sportshistory #collegeball #lamesa #sd #sdsu

Happy St. Patrick's Day! St. Patrick's Day is a religious and cultural holiday that originated in Ireland. St. Patrick i...
03/17/2020

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick's Day is a religious and cultural holiday that originated in Ireland. St. Patrick is a Roman-Britain-born Christian missionary, who is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people. On this occasion it is traditional to wear Ireland’s colors green with gold, eat traditional fair such as corned beef and cabbage, dance to some Irish jigs and reels, and perhaps imbibe in some popular Irish beverages. La Mesans celebrated St. Patrick's Day in 1955 with a float form the Fiesta de los Flores Parade. The image depicts a man dressed a leprechaun and a gold harp surrounded by green hills. La Mesans always had creative ways of celebrating diverse cultural holidays and bringing the community together.

Address

8369 University Ave
La Mesa, CA
91942-9342

General information

McKinney House Museum is open 1-4pm, on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month. The Archive is open every Saturday, 1-4pm. Note: We are closed on holiday weekends.

Opening Hours

Saturday 13:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(619) 466-0197

Website

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Connecting La Mesa’s Past and Present

The La Mesa Historical Society is a volunteer-led organization dedicated to collecting and sharing La Mesa’s stories with the community. Through events like our Annual Historic Home Tour and our Roundtable lecture series, we continue to engage with and educate others about La Mesa’s unique history.

In addition to our special events, we also open our archives at the historic McKinney House to the public, Saturdays from 1-4pm. Our collections include documents, records, photographs, artifacts, video, and oral history throughout La Mesa’s history.

By becoming a member of LMHS, you can support the preservation of La Mesa’s stories and gain access to special events and activities hosted by the Historical Society.

Nearby museums


Comments

Does anyone have old photos of Mount Helix Reservoir, now a subdivision called Lake Helix, on Lemon Avenue?
Downtown La Mesa, Opening sequence of Little Nikita (1988)
Hello La Mesa Historical Society, Come visit the Todd House fri for a sunset wine and cheese gathering. Such a special house you don't want to miss it and all the special features the current owners have done. It really is grand. Join us.....fri 5-7
I need some aerial photos of La Mesa from the 1950's. Any idea where to start?
The Todd House will be on the market this month.
My great grandma and another Lady, Mt. Helix 1926
Does anyone remember Evelyn Estabrook? This photo is from 1981 when News 8 did a story about her and her song about La Mesa "Jewel of the Hills." She was 81 years old.
Please join us on October 16! Part of our ongoing “DIY History Series” this program is aimed at those who are tasked with preserving historical photographs and documents for institutions like museums, historical societies, other cultural institutions, or companies, rather than personal family memorabilia. We will explore ways to organize, number, house, and to digitize photographs and documents according to recognized standards. The History Center’s Senior Photograph Archivist, Christine Travers, and the Document Archivist, Renato Rodriguez will allow plenty of time for questions. http://www.sandiegohistory.org/event/diy-history-photo-paper-ii/
Does anyone remember the turkey farm at the end of Panorama Dr? My mom used to get our fresh Thanksgiving turkey there.
Please help me spread the word of our fundraiser on Saturday September 23rd. We will have a team of hairdressers cutting hair from 10-4 for a donation of $25. Bring your kids, husbands and friends. Please make sure everyone hair is clean as we won't be doing shampoo and blow drys during this event. 100% of the proceeds will be going to Wings of Rescue and Convoy of hope. I recommend you reach out (text or Call) to secure a time if you don't want to wait. 619-454-4872 *if you are volunteering your time to cut hair or hand out flyers on Saturday please let Stephanie King know what time you are available. Please text her @ 619-840-7943 @ Cultivate, A Hairlovedesign Salon​ 4752 Palm Ave La Mesa Ca 91942 10am-4pm
Good to see & hear the sounds of progress; new roof in sight 👍