Coming soon: Old House Fair on June 20

See the FOVM at the Annual Old House Fair in the South Park neighborhood in Golden Hill on Saturday, June 20, from 10:00 to 4:00. Details to be provided of a special event coming in June!

April 29-May 1, 2015: Welcome new members from California Preservation Foundation Conference!

The FOVM enjoyed meeting preservation professionals and enthusiasts from around the state at the CPF conference. Thanks to all the new members who joined at the event. The FOVM chair, Louise Torio, was delighted to be asked to help with the local Realtors training day (she shared her knowledge of the Mills Act property tax reduction for owning a historic building). The bus tour of San Diego historic districts included Jesse Shepard’s neighborhood, the Sherman Heights Historic District. Local real estate agents were treated to a special tour of the Villa Montezuma Museum (thanks to the City for this special treat).

April 11, 2015: FOVM Annual Meeting for FOVM Members

All FOVM members are invited to attend the Annual Meeting on Saturday, April 11, at 10:00 a.m. to be held at the Sherman Heights Community Center, 2258 Island Avenue, San Diego (between 22nd and 24th Streets - there is no 23rd Street in Sherman Heights). We’ll be upstairs in the ballroom of the modern Quigley-designed building. Light refreshments will be served. Hear about all that has been accomplished this year, and learn about the plans for the future and how you can help. Please RSVP to

March 6 & 7, 2015: Did you see us at the Congress of History Conference “Balboa Park: 1915 & Beyond”?

The FOVM was at the 50th annual history conference produced by the Congress of History of San Diego and Imperial Counties. Thanks to everyone who became an FOVM member at the event. What a great conference to learn about how the Panama-California Exposition changed our city! (And to add perspective, the Villa Montezuma was already 28 years old when the Exposition was the big event in town!) Congratulations to the Congress of History for March 3, 2015, being “Congress of History Day” in the City of San Diego!

February 2015: Villa Montezuma Museum Phase 2 - ADA path installed in back yard!

The foundation is restored, the new roof is on, the west chimney has been rebuilt to make it structurally safe, and now the concrete ADA pathway that leading to the Bistro door in the back yard has been poured. Only miscellaneous punch list work for Phase 2 is still to be done. Want to be a sponsor? Help the FOVM with Phase 3 to fund the exterior repainting of the museum. Join the Friends of the Villa Montezuma, Inc. (FOVM) and contribute to the cause. We’re a 501-3-c nonprofit corporation, and your donations are tax deductible. The FOVM can reopen this museum as soon as the City allows it. Become a part of this amazing team! Learn more at the FOVM Annual Meeting on April 11, 2015.

November 1, 2014: Dia de los Muertos Festival Day - Thanks for visiting us!

For 20 years we’ve been celebrating Dia de los Muertos in the Sherman Heights Historic District. In Mexico we decorate the graveyard, but in Sherman Heights we decorate the neighborhood! For many of those years we’ve had an altar outside the Villa Montezuma Museum, dedicated to the life of Jesse Shepard/Francis Grierson. Because of the ongoing construction at the Villa, this year the altar was inside the Sherman Heights Community Center. Thanks to all new members who joined the Friends of the Villa Montezuma at this event!

October 26, 2014: the FOVM welcomes BikeSD and the Art of Riding

BikeSD is now featuring “The Art of Riding,” monthly cultural rides to see local art, music, and cultural destinations. The Friends of the Villa were delighted to be asked to share information about  the museum and the restoration with culturally minded cyclists on their first culture ride. We look forward to having them return to tour the inside as soon as the museum can reopen!

October 18, 2014: Mount Hope Cemetery Walking Tour a big hit! 

Thanks to all who went on the walk to see Mount Hope Cemetery, the final resting place of so many of San Diego’s “Permanent Victorians.” On October 18 we met at the cemetery for a history walk-and-talk. Your guide, Charles Spratley, is an FOVM Board member and author of “Piercing the Veil: Examining San Diego’s Haunted History,” which researches the origins and finds the facts behind San Diego’s “haunted” tales. What a great way to learn about San Diego’s history and honor our City’s important founding fathers and mothers!

October 2014: Villa Montezuma Museum Phase 2 - roof repair almost complete!

The new wood roof, complete with ornate shingling, is almost complete! Phase 1 restoration fixed the collapsed sewer line in May 2013. Phase 2 restoration, funded by a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), started in April 2014 and will fix the foundation, the roof, and stabilize the chimneys. City Engineering and Platt/Whitelaw Architects will oversee the work. This is wonderful news that the FOVM has worked so hard for over the past eight years. This phase of work is expected to be finished in December 2014. The FOVM is now working to find funding sources for Phase 3 -- repainting the museum exterior.

Thank you to the City of San Diego Engineering and Park & Rec Departments, and to Council member David Alvarez and his staff for caring so much about the museum. Thanks for FOVM members for all you’ve done to support our work to fund, restore, and reopen the museum! Above: the City Team at work!

Museum Location

The Villa is located in the Sherman Heights Historic District of downtown San Diego, CA, at the corner of 20th & K Streets.  The Sherman Heights Historic District is the largest historic district within San Diego; it has almost 400 contributing historic structures.

FOVM Mailing Address

Please do not mail anything to the physical location of the museum. Send any correspondence to the Friends of the Villa Montezuma, inc. (FOVM) to 657 20th Street, San Diego, CA 92102-2810. The fastest way to reach us: send an e-mail to or send a text to 619-233-8833.

Walking Tour June 6
Our next walking tour of Jesse Shepard’s neighborhood, the Sherman Heights Historic District, will be Saturday, June 6, at 
10:00 a.m. The 2-hour walk is always complimentary for FOVM members. 
A $10 donation per person is suggested for all others. RSVP required. We’ll confirm your reservation.  Contact us: 


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Click photo above to read the

Journal of SD History

Journal of San Diego History, Vol. 59, No.3

Thank you to Dr. Molly McClain and Dr. Iris Engstrand for asking us to contribute to the Journal of San Diego History with an article about the Villa Montezuma Museum at 125 years old.  We were pleased to record our long history of support and friendship with the San Diego Historical Society (now San Diego History Center) and we’re grateful to all the FOVM members who contributed to this article. More good things are to come for the Villa Montezuma Museum!  Old photos? Tell us!

Why the “Jesse Shepard/Francis Grierson” House? One man with

two names!

The Villa Montezuma was the home Jesse Shepard, who was also know by his pen name of Francis Grierson. Jesse began a writing career in

San Diego and took the pen name “Francis Grierson,” a name that he used from that point forward in his real life as well as for his metaphysical books. (Note: the English mystery writer Francis D. Grierson, writing mostly from the 1920s to the 1940s, is NOT our Francis Grierson of “Valley of Shadows” fame.)