It’s one of California’s oldest surviving Spanish-Mexican one-story town houses in California from the time of Mexico’s Independence. It had great social prominence reflecting Captain José María de Estudillo’s position as a commander of the San Diego Presidio.
José Antonio and María Victoria lead a life of community involvement – both socially and, politically. It was considered at the time to be one of the finest houses in Mexican California. Estudillo’s involvement and influence continued through the American period as well.
Estudillo served as revenue collector, treasurer, mayor, justice of the peace, judge of San Diego under Mexican rule, and later as treasurer and assessor of San Diego County under American rule. While José Antonio played an active role in the development of early San Diego, his wife fully participated in the life of the Mexican pueblo and the new American city.
By 1906 the house was nearly in ruins. It was John D Spreckles who stepped up as a Preservationist in 1910, assigning Architect Hazel Waterman to spearhead the restoration of the home. The Estudillo House became popularly linked with the legend of Romona’s Marriage Place. Under that moniker it became a popular tourist destination for many years. On one day in 1940, “Ramona’s Marriage Place” drew 1,632 visitors.
Today it is under care of the the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park as National Register Historic Site and museum.