Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Marston House

On a lark, I took S 'n' B to The Marston House last week. My original intent was just to check out the gorgeous gardens, but when I heard a house tour was starting in 30 minutes, the looky-looer in me could not resist. I might have done a better job of resisting had I known we would be the only ones on the tour and therefore could not hide in the back. I also might have thought better of it had I comprehended fully that the house and all of its contents were antique and therefore to touch anything was to be tsked very insistently and at a very high volume. But I paid my money, and when the door opened and the docent greeted us (he hid his horror well), there was no backing down. Luckily Bubs did not object too much to being carried, and Snook was in her bossy big sister mode, as in she was so busy telling Bubs not to touch anything that she didn't think to touch anything herself. And the payoff was huge. As in the house, built in 1905, was an amazing architectural wonder, its most impressive features being the built-in shelving and cabinetry that kept it clutter-free, the sleeping porch, and the interior windows that kept the closets (of all things) well-ventilated.I was interested to learn that the owner of the house made his fortune in the mercantile industry, and specifically by operating The Marston Store, which in the 1950's was to San Diego what Macy's was to New York and what Gump's was to San Francisco. The original building still stands on 5th and C downtown.But as much as I appreciated everything I was seeing and hearing, I think the docent could tell I was an architectural lightweight when my questions veered more towards, "Did all of four of the Marston daughters get married on the grounds?" and "Where did they put the Christmas tree?" and "Did the family get a good discount at the store?" and "Did any of the five kids share a room?" Well, it's hard to think of good questions when you're more worried about being thrown out at any minute because of a touchy-feely toddler, or worse, a 3 1/2-year-old's possible potty-training relapse. But we left incident-free and chock-full of new historical and architectural k-nowledge. And even some gratitude. Did you know Marston was instrumental in creating Balboa and Presidio parks, as well as Anza-Borrego Desert State Park? All in all a good afternoon, I would say.

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