With such a strong focus on history, it’s only natural that the Gaslamp Quarter is home to many museums, as well as its own historical foundation. These services work to preserve the shared history of San Diego for life-long residents and curious tourists alike.
There are almost 100 Victorian-style buildings still standing in the town, many of which are still in use today. If you take a trip to the Gaslamp Quarter, or if you’re a resident who wants to learn more about the way your home looked hundreds of years ago, these historic sites are a great place to start.
The Gaslamp Museum is a near-mandatory stop on any trip to the Gaslamp Quarter. It is a Victorian house that has been converted into a museum that showcases the many phases of the Gaslamp Quarter’s history, from its early days as New Town to more recent developments. In addition to its educational focus, the Gaslamp Museum is also believed to be one of the most haunted buildings in the neighborhood, and ghost tours are frequently offered.
The museum is located in the Davis-Horton house, which also goes by the name William Heath Davis House. Constructed in 1850 after William Heath Davis purchased land in the New Town area, it is the oldest building still standing in San Diego.
Prohibition: San Diego's Original Speakeasy Bar
Prohibition is the original speakeasy bar in San Diego and it is well worth checking. This 1920's atmosphere bar is a great place to grab a craft cocktail or a beer with a friend. You might even catch some live music on your visit
The house has been renovated many times throughout the years, with each renovation keeping the building in good shape, while still preserving all of the historically significant architecture and interior design.
Each room in the house showcases a different period in San Diego’s history and the history of the house itself. It has been used as a private residence, a hospital, and even military barracks. Rooms are decorated to reflect the pre-Civil War era, the modern Gaslamp Quarter style, and everything in between.
The Gaslamp Museum is included in the list of attractions applicable for a bundled discount when you buy a Go San Diego pass for your trip. Purchasing a pass through us gets you access to our additional discount on top of the Go San Diego passes already discounted rates!
Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation
The Gaslamp Museum currently functions as the headquarters for the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation (GQHF). The foundation works to preserve the history of the Gaslamp Quarter and of San Diego, and also to make the knowledge of the area’s past accessible to everyone. They are responsible for maintaining and showcasing the Gaslamp Museum, as well as running walking tours to nearby historical landmarks.
As an organization concerned with exploring the Gaslamp Quarter’s history, GQHF also runs many community outreach programs that encourage people of all ages to develop an interest toward San Diego’s past. They run multiple lectures about different aspects of the area’s history each year, and they also host events like the Fallback Festival, a wild west-themed street fair for kids.
San Diego has a significant Chinese population in Kearny Mesa, but there is also a long history of Chinese residents in the Gaslamp Quarter. In the 1860s, Chinese abalone fishermen settled in what is now known as the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District (APTHD).
This area is now part of San Diego’s Chinatown, and it’s where the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum can be found.
The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum was founded by the San Diego Chinese Historical Society. It is housed in a renovated and repurposed church and school that was originally going to be demolished back in the 1990s. After significant efforts by the Chinese Historical Society, the building was saved, and the museum opened its doors in 1996.
The museum now includes three different buildings as well as a Chinese garden. The exhibits showcase the influence of Chinese culture on past and present San Diego, as well as the area’s long history of multiculturalism.
Museum exhibits and attractions include Chinese artifacts, models, historic photographs, works of art, and displays. The museum runs educational programs for those interested in learning more about Chinese history in the Gaslamp Quarter, and there are annual celebrations for events like the Moon Festival, Chinese New Year, and other holidays.