Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ramona Epic #21: La Casa De Estudillo (Part 3)

(AKA The Marriage Place of Ramona and Alessandro)

"'Majella, the chapel is lighted; but that is good!' exclaimed
Alessandro, as they rode into the silent plaza. "Father Gaspara
must be there;" and jumping off his horse, he peered in at the
uncurtained window. 'A marriage, Majella, -- a marriage!' he
cried, hastily returning. "This, too, is good fortune. We need not to
wait long."

The place of marriage can be narrowed down to Old Town San Diego because that is the only historical place for that time that would have matched the short description in the book. To identify the Estudillo home as the place is a stretch, but is the one place in the plaza that had a chapel.

Continuing from the last blog, I walked toward the other side of the U-shaped casa to view the rooms on that side.There is a workroom and a few other bedrooms on that side.The dining room. That piece of art is supposed to be of Jose Maria Estudillo, the original owner and creator of the casa.Now going back to the other side we have the chapel. From what I can tell, this room changed completely over the years. Some old pictures I have seen do not look like this room at all. In any case, for our purposes, this is where Ramona and Alessandro exchanged vows with Father Gaspara.
Now in the book, what really happens is Father Gaspara writes their names down in a marriage registry where he lives, that would be here, then they cross the plaza to the chapel. But, for the Ramona tourist back in time, this would have been the room they were married in.Behind me is where the priest's room was:
There is an odd history for this site. By the time Ramona was written and being read, it was already in a state of ruins. In more time, the remains on the site would have probably been bulldozed and completely built over with something else. So, its continued existence depended on a work of fiction that probably had nothing to do with it.

"AFTER leaving Father Gaspara's door, Alessandro and Ramona
rode slowly through the now deserted plaza, and turned northward,
on the river road, leaving the old Presidio walls on their right. The
river was low, and they forded it without difficulty."

There's really nothing left of the Presido, but the description above matches up with how they would have had to leave the Old Town San Diego plaza.

A few side notes as I wrap this one up:

Over ten years ago, I remember actually walking around at this casa when I visited the Whaley House in Old Town San Diego. I specifically remember not caring about its Ramona history because I was more concerned about the actual history of the place. If I remember correctly, it had a little more publicity about being the "Marriage place of Ramona" at the time. In the past 40 years or so, it has gradually lost some of it identification as part of the Ramona history. In the pamphlet you get there I think there is a sentence or two mentioning that it was connected with the novel. The funny thing is my attitude toward the casa and the Whaley House has totally flip-flopped in that time; my interest in one is more than the other these days.

I actually had to visit this place twice last year. When I originally went there the first time I was excited only to find out that the chapel room was closed and being worked on! I just about wanted to slam my head into the ground. I got there early in the morning to picture and video the outside, but the whole reason I went there was to get pictures and video of that room. I asked when it would open up again, I was told they just had a meeting about this, and within a few weeks by July 4th or later in the summer. I could not get a direct answer so I had it my mind I would have to come back by around Labor Day. On the day I went back I probably spent five minutes parking, walking to the casa, then going into the chapel room. I was so glad I did that I verified all footage to make sure I got everything before I went home. That room was important for this project, and for a while I was trying to come up with alternate plans for how to present this if that room was going to stay closed. I was told that the casa is in a continual state of being repaired and updated so other rooms of it are often closed for a time.

Ramona Epic #21: The Marriage Place of Ramona (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #21: The Marriage Place of Ramona (Vimeo Version)