Interior Tours in 2018 will be on March 17, June 2, August 18, and October 20, 2018.

The interior tours of this most beautiful museum are always a big hit! Join us on one of these guaranteed no-cost tour dates. See details on the home page. Questions to


Next Walking Tour - Schedule Your Group

The next walking tour will be September 29, 2018.

We love doing a 2-hour walking tour of

Jesse Shepard’s neighborhood, the Sherman Heights Historic District, for your group of 10 or more. Contact us to schedule at


Permanent Victorians Mount Hope Cemetery Walking Tour - October 2018

This will be a 2-hour walking tour of Mount Hope Cemetery in honor of Dia de los Muertos. Because the cemetery is owned by the City of San Diego, the walk is no cost but reservations are required. The tour will be conducted by author Charles Spratley. Don’t miss this!

After the tour, join us back at the Sherman Heights Community Center to see all the altars (including ours for Jesse Shepard/Francis Grierson).

More information will be posted closer to events.

Contact the FOVM via phone (619-255-9367)

or via e-mail


HOME        RESTORATION        EVENTS         HISTORY        VISIT        HONORS        ABOUT US         MEMBERSHIP

The Friends of the Villa Montezuma love speaking about our favorite museum! Below are some of the past events where you could find us in person. (See the home page for current events.)

If you’d like the FOVM to speak at your event, please contact us at or 619-255-9367.

Because a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was used to restore the foundation, roof, and chimneys, the City of San Diego will have the museum open free of charge four times per year through 2020. The guided tours will be on the half hour from 9:00 a.m. through noon. About four weeks before each tour the City will post the tours on its event registration website. To guarantee your tour time please reserve your tour online through the City’s reservation system at Create an account, add the names of family members or friends who would like to go on tour with you, and sign up your group in one booking. Search for “Villa” on the registration website, not “Villa Montezuma.” Book yourself into the tour, then before you “check out”  (the tours are free) add other family and friends that you have on your account. The quarterly free tours of the museum are very popular. Walk-ups will be taken the day of the event if there is room. Walk-up guests will have to fill out the City’s liability form on site (guests registered online will have already taken care of this electronically). Let us know if you have questions.

Fallback Festival in the Gaslamp Shared Our Victorian History NOVEMBER 5, 2017
The FOVM was delighted to once again share the Villa’s history at the Fallback Festival for our young history fans! We look forward to taking all through the museum in March 2018.

”Permanent Victorians” Walk of Mount Hope Cemetery OctobER 2017
The FOVM’s annual history walk of Mount Hope Cemetery was a 2-hour respectful walk through San Diego’s past. Thank you to all who walked with us and who visited our altar to Jesse Shepard/Francis Grierson at the Sherman Heights Community Center during Dia de los Muertos.  This year we also honored FOVM members who passed away, including our friends Gabe Selak, Sherri Grelle, and Doris Brygier. Our relationships with those we love continue to provide support, even if they are no longer with us on this earth. Thanks to all new members.

 As always, we had a great time at the South Park Old House Fair in Golden Hill. Welcome new members!

22 years strong! Thank you to all who viewed our altar to Jesse Shepard/ Francis Grierson at the Sherman Heights Community Center. In Mexico we decorate the graveyard. In Sherman Heights we decorate the neighborhood! Sharing culture is preserving culture. Thanks for letting us share the life of Jesse Shepard/ Francis Grierson, an extraordinary man, with you.

Meet at the museum at the corner of 20th & K Streets. 
What a great turnout! Thanks to all who walked with us and thank you to all the new members.

On behalf of the City of San Diego, the Friends of the Villa Montezuma thank you for your overwhelming response. We also thank City Park and Recreation staff, the wonderful FOVM volunteers and docents, members of the San Diego Costume Guild (Judy, Val, and Shannon looked beautiful!), and the neighbors who helped us welcome new guests to the Sherman Heights Historic District. We are honored to have so many new FOVM members. As soon as the 2017 Free tours are locked in we will post that information so you can save the date. 

What a great event! Thank you to Owen Sutton of Home Restoration and Remodeling of San Diego and to all new members who joined. We look forward to showing you the museum for the next interior tours on June 25.

We were delighted to work with our longtime friends at the San Diego History Center to share the wonderful Fashion Redux! exhibit with Villa guests. The San Diego Mesa College fashion design students displayed their 1890s-inspired contemporary clothes (these were not costumes) inside the magnificent 1887 Villa Montezuma Museum. Thank you to the students who shared their design philosophies with our Villa guests. So exciting!

We had great fun at our booth at Memorial Park (South 29th Street in San Diego, behind the new Logan Heights Library) as we celebrated spring with the San Diego Police Department! Thank you to Captain Kaye and all our friends at the SDPD and the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) for caring so much about the museum and for your support.

After a stormy El Nino week where we thought this tour wouldn’t happen, hundreds of you came to see the museum. Now you know just how unique and beautiful this historic site is. We appreciate your support of the FOVM’s work. As soon as the date for the next quarterly tour is locked in we’ll share that with you.

It was wonderful to meet so many families at the the 15th Annual Fall Back Festival, where guest got to step back in time. Over 400 children visited our booth and learned about the Villa. Thank you to all who became members of the FOVM!

OCTOBER 31, 2015: 21st Annual Dia de Los Muertos - A Beautiful Event
The Friends of the Villa Montezuma, Inc. (FOVM) have been celebrating Dia de los Muertos in the Sherman Heights Historic District for 21 years. Thanks to all who visited and became members! Below are FOVM Board members Alessandra Moctezuma, Todd McKerrow, and Barbara Busch in front of the FOVM altar designed by Alessandra.

What a great response! Thank you to all who came to see historian Charles Spratley share about the lives and deaths of important people who helped make San Diego what it is today. Thank you to all new members!

Villa Montezuma Introductory Video by the FOVM and City TV (Have you viewed this yet? It is a lovely intro to the museum!)

The City’s “soft” opening in June was a great success, and now the City of San Diego will have regularly scheduled free quarterly tours of the museum. There were eight tours on Saturday, September 26. To book a tour, guests registered for the tour of their choice through the City of San Diego’s website,  

For registration details for each quarterly tour, the FOVM will post informationon our home page for you. Guests will need to go to the City’s Park and  Recreation website, create a profile, and register for the tour of your choice. If you need to change your tour time or if you subsequently cannot attend, please change your tour time or cancel your reservation through the registration system so that others may use the time. Helpful hint: if you’d like to bring a group of friends, one person may want to register the group of friends as if they are family members, so that one person can book all the people in the group at the same time.

FOVM members, please forward your registration confirmation to us at so we know to expect you (we don’t have access to the reservations made through the City’s website). Be sure to arrive 15 minutes before your chosen tour time to check in. There is free street parking throughout the Sherman Heights Historic District, but please carpool if you can.


Thank you to all for your strong support of the Villa Montezuma Museum and the FOVM. The FOVM was delighted to be asked by the City to take hundreds of people through the mansion on June 27, 2015. Thank you to City of San Diego  Council member David Alvarez, Park and Rec, and City Engineering. Thank you to our elected officials (County Supervisor Greg Cox, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, State Senator Ben Hueso, and Juan Vargas in the House of Representatives) for their support and proclamations honoring the Friends of the Villa’s work to get the Villa restored and reopened. Thanks to our FOVM members and friends who helped guide in Victorian costume, including those who are our supporters at the Victorian Ladies Society and the San Diego Costume Guild. Read more about the City’s “soft” reopening event in the article in the San Diego Union-Tribune here. Be sure to go through the great photos in the photo gallery! See the 9 minute introductory video about the museum (see the link above).

Join the Friends of the Villa Montezuma today. We want to operate the museum full time, not just quarterly! Let’s have a full reopening, just just a “soft” reopening! The museum is too beautiful to be open only once per quarter. Questions?

June 20, 2015: Old House Fair, South Park
Welcome  all new members who joined the FOVM at the Annual Old House Fair in the South Park neighborhood in Golden Hill on Saturday, June 20. Thank you to our sponsor, Owen Sutton of San Diego Home Restoration and Remodeling, for supporting the FOVM’s work.

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, 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!

November 1, 2014: Dia de los Muertos 
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!

Victorian Garden Party Tea, July 20, 2014
Thank you for everyone who attended our garden tea party! What a wonderful event at a beautiful historic home. Thanks to all the FOVM volunteers. Thank you, Tea and Teacups Tea House and magician Loch David Crane (Bafflin’ Bill). We appreciate everyone’s support of the FOVM and welcome all the new members who joined at the party. Your membership counts!

Old House Fair, Saturday, June 21, 2014 Welcome new members, again! Thanks to all who stopped by to support the FOVM’s work for the Villa. Thank you to Home Restoration and Remodeling of San Diego’s Owen Sutton for sponsoring the FOVM booth.

Dia de los Museos, June 1, 2014
Thanks to all who visited the FOVM at our table at the Sherman Heights Community Center for the annual Museum Day, where representatives from over a dozen museums shared activities with neighborhood children. Thanks to the San Diego Museum Council for organizing this event!

19th Annual Sherman Heights Historic District Dia de los Muertos, Nov. 3, 2013 
Thanks to all who attended the Villa Montezuma Museum on Sunday, Nov. 3, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to see our outdoor oftenda (unbless altar) to Jesse Shepard/Franics Grierson. This year’s design is courtesy of Prof. Alessandra Moctezuma and her students at Mesa College. We loved sharing the latest update on the Villa Phase 2 restoration, and providing a walking tour of the Sherman Heights Historic District. A big thanks to everyone who brought their family altars outdoors, and who created beautiful, colorful, authentic altars at the Sherman Heights Community Center. 

Permanent Victorians Tour of Mount Hope Cemetery, Oct. 12, 2013
Read the San Diego Union-Tribune article and see the UT photos here.  Thanks to all who attended the FOVM’s no-cost, respectful walking tour of Mount Hope Cemetery. Charles Spratley, FOVM Vice President and author of “Piercing the Veil; Examining San Diego’s Haunted History,” was our guide to see the final resting places of some of Jesse Shepard’s contemporaries. We visited with San Diego’s “permanent Victorians” including Alonzo Horton, Kate Sessions, Matthew and Augusta Sherman, Elisha Babcock, and George Marston. We heard the sad tale of Kate Morgan, who died at the Hotel del Coronado in 1892. Thank you to the City of San Diego Park and Recreation staff who allowed us to do this tour and who attended the walk with us. 

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! Journals are available for sale at the San Diego History Center. Old photos? Tell us!

Victorian Valentine Tea, Feb. 23, 2013 SOLD OUT
Our favorite fundraiser sold out! Thank you to all the Friends who joined us on February 23. Thanks to “Due Madera & Piectro” for the live music, and to special guest Fran Aguilar Hodge for discussing her passion for collecting historic clothing. Thanks to all who attended and who supported the FOVM by buying a copy of “Piercing the Veil; San Diego’s Haunted History,” by FOVM Board member Charles Spratley, at our Tea. 

Dia de los Muertos: 
Oct. 27 & 28, 2012
Thanks to those who joined the Friends of the Villa Montezuma as we honored Jesse Shepard/Francis Grierson with an ofrenda (non-blessed altar) for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  The Sherman Heights celebration and the FOVM’s ofrenda received national attention.  See the link here. (The Fox video freezes at “el dia de los muertos goes to the streets,” so you’ll need to click again to continue.)

“Piercing the Veil” Book Release, 
FOVM Board Member Charles Spratley: Oct. 18, 2012
FOVM Board member Charles Spratley’s book, “Piercing the Veil: San Diego’s Haunted History,” has been released! This is a wonderful look at the REAL history behind the ghostly legends of San Diego. Charles’ purpose isn’t to debunk myths or tell you what to believe. Rather, he gives you the fascinating truths behind the stories, proving that fact is stranger -- and often more interesting -- than fiction. Thanks to our friends at the San Diego History Center for hosting Charles’ book launch on October 18. See the interview with Charles on San Diego Living here.

Latino Music Festival: June 30, 2012
The field at Sherman Elementary School was the place for great music, great Friends, and great support for the FOVM’s work. We got to share history while dancing to wonderful bands. We think Jesse would approve! The most heartwarming part was meeting area residents who grew up with all the wonderful events and programming at the Villa and who told us how important it was for them. Thank you to all the area residents who support the FOVM! 

Old House Fair 2012: June 16, 2012
Thank you to all the new members who joined at the Fair.  We loved sharing news of the dig and the finial restoration. Thanks to FOVM Advisory Board member Owen Sutton of Home Restoration and Remodeling for sponsoring the FOVM booth!

Archaeological dig at the Villa: May 2012
Before the City could replace the collapsed sewer line, we needed to know what might be underground in the area where the new pipes will go. In the Villa’s backyard we’ve always known of the circular brick structure buried. The archaeological dig confirmed that this was not a planter, but a fountain, made of the same Victorian-era brick as the original foundation of the house. At some point the shallow fountain was leveled and filled in. The remains of the fountain were reburied and protected in place so the digging for the new sewer pipe will not disturb it. 

Dia de los Museos: May 20, 2012
Thank you to the San Diego Museum Council for brining more than a dozen museums to the Sherman Heights Community Center so that our local children can experience what museums have to offer. Often the expense of bringing an entire family to a museum is more than a family can afford. This was a great way for families to “sample” each museum, play education games, learn about museum programs, and have a great time! 

Gaslight Gathering: May 11-13, 2012

The second annual Steampunk convention in San Diego was terrific fun, and we spoke at two events. FOVM Board chairperson Louise Torio spoke on “A Victorian Spiritualist in San Diego: Jesse Shepard and the Villa Montezuma Museum.” FOVM vice chair Charles Spratley spoke about the origins of Victorian Spiritualism and his book, “Piercing the Veil,” about San Diego’s “haunted” sites. Thank you to all the new Friends we made at this event! We look forward to the 2013 Steampunk convention.

Valley of Shadows: September 18, 2011
The multitalented Jesse Shepard was better known in the second half of his life as author Francis Grierson. Grierson’s masterpiece is “The Valley of Shadows: Recollections of the Lincoln Country, 1858-63.” In this work from 1909, Grierson looked back at his childhood growing up in Illinois, with all the characters and conflicts in the turbulent years before the Civil War. Thanks to San Diego actor and playwright Kirk Allen and his cast of talented actors, the dialog and the dialects of The Valley of Shadows came alive during these presentations of selected readings from this important work. The event took place at the Point Loma Actors Theatre on the 163rd birthday of Jesse/Francis.

Pictured are actors Mysti Sadler, Kirk Allen, David Brubaker, Elouise Potomac, James Brown, Lolly Boroff. Not shown: Gwen Walls.

Villa Montezuma Museum on TV: 
July 18, 2011

The FOVM was pleased to welcome Larry Himmel and CBS Channel 8 to tour the museum and the Sherman Heights Historic District. Click here to see the segment. Rest in peace, Larry.
Thank you to the City of San Diego Park and Recreation team (Sergio and Francisco pictured at left, with Louise Torio, the late Larry Himmel, Charles Spratley, and Dr. Maria Bolivar).