Location: Downtown San Diego (Gaslamp Quarter)
Open Daily: 10AM – 6PM (9AM – 3PM on Sundays); Closed on Mondays.
Cost: $5 ($4 for Seniors)
Features: Built in 1850, this was the Home where the idea of a “New San Diego” began. Learn about the vision for a new city held by William Heath Davis and the subsequent development by Alonzo Horton, who is known as the Founder of Downtown San Diego.
William Heath Davis Museum Highlights: William Heath Davis was the first person who had hopes of replacing Old Town with a new community on the waterfront. His vision did not meet financial success until Alonzo Horton arrived in town. Alonzo Horton became the new owner of the home after buying all of the surrounding property and successfully developing it into what is now known as Downtown San Diego.
Alonzo Horton eventually moved to a bigger home. The subsequent owners of the home made very few changes to the original structure. Today, the rooms of the home are used to show visitors the various periods of life in San Diego history.
What to Expect
- Consider setting aside up to an hour to enjoy the Museum.
- You will start in the lower level gift shop. You will probably spend most of your time in the Gift Shop area where there are a number of displays explaining the various periods in downtown San Diego’s early history. Among the displays, you will see three large cases holding a model replica of the original “New Town”. There are small placards next to some of the model buildings that describe what buildings now sit in those locations. Keep your eyes open for additional displays since they are interspersed throughout the gift shop.
- You will receive a map that takes you on a self guided tour of the home.
Original People of Downtown San Diego – Learn more about William Heath Davis, Alonzo Horton, and other important characters that shaped Downtown San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter in its early years, including the hero of the O.K. Corrall, Wyatt Earp. For additional details, the Gaslamp Historical Society has published a book on the history of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.
Food – The are a dozens of restaurants surrounding the William Heath Davis House.
Information on Visiting the William Heath Davis House Museum
Admission Prices: (Costs are Approximate)
- Parking will range from $0 – $2 (See more parking information below.)
- Entrance Fee is $5 ($4 for Seniors)
Directions from Google Maps to 410 Island Avenue in San Diego, CA 92101. (At the corner of 4th Avenue.)
Parking – Metered Street Parking is available near the William Heath Davis House and runs about $1.25 per hour with a limit of 2 hours. (Street Parking is Free on Sundays.)
Traffic – Getting in and out of downtown using highways I-5, SR-163, and SR-94 is relatively easy. Downtown San Diego is not a major employment center and thus there is very little rush hour traffic. Watch for slower traffic on the I-5 where it does a tight S-curve through downtown San Diego near the SR-163 interchange. When heading southbound on SR-163, stay to the left side unless you want to get on the I-5. (You will encounter a slight delay getting on the I-5 from SR-163.) You will also encounter a slight delay on SR-163 going into downtown when there is an event at Petco Park. If the San Diego Padres play a daytime game, it usually start at 1:05PM. Even though traffic backs up a little on SR-163, it continues to move along. When leaving downtown, remember that:
- 1st Avenue will get you to the I-5 North,
- 11th Avenue will get you to SR-163 and the I-5 North,
- E & J Streets will get you to the I-5 South, and
- G Street will get you to SR-94.
The traffic lights on these streets are synchronized and will generally move you along without delay. (Learn how to get the latest highway traffic updates.)
Once you are downtown, you will find most of the streets are one-way, on an alternating basis. (You can see them if you zoom in on Google Maps.) Broadway and Market Streets are both two-way streets running east-west. You will find that at several intersections you are not allowed to make a left turn off of Broadway or Market. Thus, if you need to make a left turn, it is often better to use a one-way street rather than Broadway and Market Streets. In front of the William Heath Davis Museum, Fourth Avenue is a one-way street heading south while Island Avenue is a two-way street. (However, portions of Island Avenue are one-way.)
All of the streets downtown move along quite well. The only exceptions are 4th and 5th Avenues through the Gaslamp Quarter in the evenings and around Petco Park before and after events. One other exception is crossing train tracks that run along Harbor Drive in front of the Convention Center. You can cross over the train tracks at Market, Front, 1st, and 5th. Sometimes, freight trains block the latter few crossover streets. If you see them sitting still, it means they are checking their brakes, so it could take a while. Don’t wait. Move farther north towards Market Street to cross over the tracks.
Transit - Both the Blue and Orange Trolley Lines move through Downtown San Diego and get you within four blocks of most attractions. The Orange Line stops four blocks away from the William Heath Davis House at the Convention Center Station. (See San Diego Transit Information for the downtown transit map and information for the online Transit Planner.) Walking around Downtown San Diego is easy since it is flat with the exception of the northeast corner near Cortez Hill.
Related Attraction – You may also be interested in visiting the Marston House in Balboa Park, which is just 3 miles away.