San Diego

Historic Villa Montezuma House To Open Its Doors to Visitors

  The Villa Montezuma house in Sherman Heights is now open for tours every quarter.

The City of San Diego has been working to restore the home to its original beauty for the last several years.

The house, now a museum, was built in 1887 and is located at the corner of 20th and K streets.

"It was built as a showcase to explain San Diego's burgeoning cultural sophistication," says City of San Diego spokesperson Bill Harris.

When you look at the Villa Montezuma from the outside, one of the first things you notice is the color, and its many Victorian features.

Once you're inside, the home's originality is apparent everywhere you look.

The detailed woodwork on the walls, the ceilings, and the fireplaces were all carefully constructed by hand.

The city began quarterly tours of the house over the summer.

"The tours we began have allowed people to see the house almost in its original form," says Harris.

The city purchased Villa Montezuma since 1971. It's now on the National Register of Historic Places.

"It's also to let people see what a commitment to historic preservation can do for a community like this," says Harris.

In 1887, it cost about $19,000 dollars to build the home. The stained glass added another $7,000.

"It really is the stained glass that distinguishes this home. It captures its intent. It's the showplace for art. There are artists in the stained glass. There are musicians in the stained glass. The owner, Jesse Shepherd is captured in one of the stained glass," says Harris.

On the third floor is a tower where you can get pretty good view of the city.

"If you look at the top of the building, it's a cupola, a type of dome. It now stands as one corner of a triangle of domes in San Diego," says Harris.

The other two corners of the triangle are the California tower in Balboa Park, which reopened this year after 80 years, and the new central library in downtown, which opened in 2013.

"It really captures almost the entire modern history of San Diego by being able to see these three domes all at once," says Harris.

The city has spent nearly two million dollars over the last several years for the renovations. Most of the money came from grants.

The outside of the house will be repainted, once funding for that comes through. The color may change, but the palette will be in the same earthy dark tones that are on the house today.

The next tour of Villa Montezuma is scheduled for January 2016.

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