Historical Landmark #538
Built in 1865, this was the first public school house in San Diego. Mary Chase Walker was its first teacher. She received a salary of $65/month. After eleven months she quit teaching and married Ephraim Morse who was president of the school board at the time.
|Mason Street Schoolhouse in 1870|
The San Diego History Center has an excerpt from a paper Mary Chase Walker wrote in 1898 entitled Recollections of Early Times in San Diego.
|Mary Chase Walker|
I arrived in the bay of San Diego on the morning of July 5, 1865. It was a most desolate looking landscape. The hills were brown and barren; not a tree or green thing was to be seen. Of all the dilapidated, miserable looking places I had ever seen, this was the worst. The buildings were nearly all of adobe, one story in height, with no chimneys. Some of the roofs were covered with tile and some with earth. The first night of my stay at the hotel, a donkey came under my window and saluted me with an unearthly bray. The fleas were plentiful and hungry. Mosquitoes were also in attendance. An Indian man did the cooking and an Irish boy waited on me at the table, and also gave me the news of the town. The landlord told me I could go into the kitchen and cook whatever I wanted if I didn't like the Indian's style and I availed myself of this privilege. I rented two rooms in the Robinson House for $2.00 a month. My school was composed mostly of Spanish and half-breed children, with a few English and several Americans. I aimed to teach which was most meaningful to them; namely reading, spelling, arithmetic, and how to write letters. At recess the Spanish girls smoked cigaritas and the boys amused themselves by lassoing pigs, hens, etc. The Spanish children were very irregular in their attendance at school on account of so many fiestas and amusements of various kinds. For a week before a bull fight the boys were more or less absent, watching preparations, such as fencing up the streets leading to the plaza.Miss Walker taught for 11 months in the Mason Street School She became the center of controversy when she invited a black woman to lunch at the Franklin House and some diners stormed out, while others stared with contempt. Her story became so controversial that led to her quitting her position despite being supported by the superintendent (her husband)
Mason Street School served the community from 1865 to 1872. In 1872 the school was moved to a 4 room structure half a mile away. The Mason Street School was converted into a home until about 1918. From 1918 until the late 1940’s the building housed a restaurant.
The building was restored into a museum in 1955 and considered a California Historical Landmark.
Here's a list of punishments at Mason Street Schoolhouse
1. Boys and Girls Playing Together
2. Fighting at School
3. Quareling at School
4. Gambleing or Betting at School
5. Playing at Cards at School
6. Climbing for Every Foot Over Three Feet Up a Tree
7. Telling Lies
8. Telling Tales Out of School
9. Giving Each Other Ill Names
10. Swaring at School
11. For Misbehaving to Girls
12. For Drinking Spiritous Liquors at School
13. Making Swings and Swinging on Them
14. For Waring Long Finger Nails
15. Misbehaving to Persons on the Road
16. For Going to Girls Play Places
17. Girls Going to Boys Play Places
18. Coming to School With Dirty Faces and Hands
19. For Calling Each Other Liars
20. For Wrestling at School
21. For Weting Each Other Washing at Playtime
22. Scuffling at School
23. For Going and Playing about the Mill or Creek
24. For Going about the Barn or doing any Mischief about the Place