In this post, I want to preview the first in a series of articles that I will start offering for sale on Amazon kindle in the new year. This series will present primary research into the jewel of
architecture, the Villa Montezuma and
her occupants. San Diego
I envision this series to comprise roughly 6 parts of varying length, focusing on newspaper accounts, but also pieces from magazines, books and personal letters.
This excerpt from Jesse Shepard & the Villa Montezuma: Tracing the Man and His Signature Creation Though San Diego's Print Media: The Golden Era -- 1887 - 1889 presents the "Editor's Comments", the "Introductory Comments" and first few paragraphs from the magazine article "The Abbe Roux" from the June 1887 issue of The Golden Era.
Jesse Shepard & the Villa Montezuma: Tracing the Man and His Signature Creation Though San Diego's Print Media: The Golden Era -- 1887 - 1889 will be available from Amazon.com's Kindle store beginning early January 2014 for $0.99.
As always, all comments are welcome.
Now let the work speak for itself.
From 2002 through 2005 and a little beyond, I was very closely connected to the Villa Montezuma; first as Assistant Curator of Historic Sites for the San Diego Historical Society, then as a founding member of the new Friends of the Villa Montezuma, a non-profit organization, which I helped establish.
My involvement with the Villa Montezuma was one of the most frustrating, aggravating, challenging, irritating, heart-breaking, richest, rewarding and personally fulfilling times of my entire life. It fundamentally changed me and how I viewed the world around me...And I am grateful.
This article is the first in a series to present my research into the Villa Montezuma in the form of primary source materials from various nineteenth-century publications. Focusing on the years 1887 through 1889, the period in which Jesse Shepard lived in the Villa Montezuma, this series will also present pertinent and related materials from later in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Sincerely, I feel that these items should be made available to the greatest possible audience. Transcribing these articles in their entirety allows me to present primary source material in a format, that I believe is conducive to further interest and scholarship. Also, just because my researches into the Villa Montezuma may have come to an end, that does not mean that a newer, fresher Historian might not benefit from my previous documentary delvings.
This first issue showcases articles from the popular magazine, The Golden Era, from 1887 through 1889. Articles both written by and written about Jesse Shepard and the Villa Montezuma are presented for the reader to gain a better understanding of the man, the place, and the time.
Sean K.T. Shiraishi, M.A.
Jesse Shepard and the Villa Montezuma were products of the
Boom Time (1880s). With the coming of the railroad, the population of San Diego soared and rampant
land speculation led to outrageously inflated real estate prices. However, in
many ways San Diego
was still a rough and tumble port town. To address this perceived flaw and to
improve the town’s reputation overall, Jesse Shepard was invited to San Diego and the Villa
Montezuma born. San Diego
The Villa Montezuma was built to impress and entertain as an example of the exuberance and opulence of the Gilded Age, especially when coupled with Jesse Shepard’s artistic taste and eccentricity. The story of the man and the mansion he designed can be traced through the pages of
newspapers and journals. From Shepard’s first visit to San Diego , through the announcement that he
would build a large home, to details about his farewell concert; all was
documented in local newspapers and periodicals. San Diego
However, the story of Jesse Shepard and the Villa Montezuma does not end with the last newspaper article reproduced here. Indeed both of their stories go on for much longer. Jesse Shepard’s (or Francis Grierson’s, as he was later known) journey ended in May 1927; while the story of the Villa Montezuma continues to this very day.
What follows is a listing of articles by and about Jesse Shepard, the Villa Montezuma, and its subsequent owners as printed in the pages of newspapers and periodicals from the later years of the nineteenth century until the day the mansion became a museum in 1972.
This work is intended primarily as an aide to researchers by providing historical context for the Villa Montezuma and Jesse Shepard as well as a glimpse of the significance of the Villa Montezuma in the early days of
evolution from small town to major city. But this monograph also expands upon
the story of this mansion and this man and provides some satisfaction for those
who desire more of the flavor of what life was like in San Diego when Jesse Shepard lived here. This
represents a collection of resources gathered together in order to tell a story
as well as further the research of late-nineteenth century San Diego. San Diego
Original spelling has been preserved as much as possible, except where it would cloud understanding. Grammar and word order have not been altered. While intended to be as comprehensive as possible, this work is intended to grow; whether as additional volumes or expanded editions, this tale is not yet fully told.
Sean K.T. Shiraishi, M.A.
(from The Golden Era magazine, June 1887, pages 338-343)
Full well we feel, full well we know
Great sorrows spring from little deeds,
Great happiness from some great woe;
The truth humanity most needs
Affliction’s fires can best bestow.
Talent is the faculty of acquiring knowledge by the cultivation of certain gifts, such as singing, acting, story-telling, picture making, prose painting and the like, which may be moulded and modelled after almost any fashion; time patience, imitation and memory being the principal factors in its development; and if “poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes,” talent is genius en dishabille; the mimic of the model, poetic, plastic or philosophical; wit without thought; spirit without soul, head without heart.
Original thought and profound feeling constitute a union of the intellectual and emotional faculty which we may term personality. Without this blending of brain and nerve we have only the imitator, who mistakes the prevailing modes of psychological rhetoric for the highest and the deepest conceptions of united mental and moral attributes.
Clever repartee and clatter, some wordly experience, an apt mode of expression, sympathy and humor diluted to cover the susceptibilities of a large portion of humanity who judge of genius by the laws which govern their own limited capacity to know and to feel these things with much more of equivalent import are what cause the master of mere words and action to be mistaken for the profound thinker and creative artist.
From the times of Socrates to Dante and George Eliot, the individual environment has mystified the most experienced psychologists. Genius is rarely, if ever, displayed under a garb of physical attraction. Nature spreads before us an illusive show which deceives all who are not close observers of her laws. Compare the shrill cry and brilliant plumage of the parrot and peacock with the plain colors and pleasant song of the lark and the nightingale; the brightest flowers are commonly the least fragrant, and placid waters have the profoundest depths. These examples might be multiplied without limit, humanity itself presenting the most interesting and instructive; and in spite of the claims of certain professors of physiology, we and in almost every instance where the highest and most complicated natures are involved, that undecipherable hieroglyphs encompass the soul around about, and “thou shalt not know me,” written on the emblem of each lofty brow.