Ramona’s Marriage Place

Ramona's Marriage Place and Monument Where American Flag was First Raised in Southern California, at San Diego

Ramona was an 1884 novel by Helen Hunt Jackson which described the travails endured by our young half-Scottish half-Native American heroine, mostly due to racial discrimination. It was immensely popular, not just for the storyline itself (sort of a Native American Uncle Tom’s Cabin), but for the romantic descriptions of 19th-century California, and the Spanish land aristocracy. It remained popular for decades thereafter, in part thanks to a 1910 D.W. Griffith film starring Mary Pickford, a 1928 version starring Delores del Rio, and a 1936 version starring Loretta Young and Don Ameche.

Consequently, many places in San Diego jumped on the bandwagon, claiming to be the places portrayed in the novel. Many of them had valid claims, as it was known that the author visited these places during her research. They were assisted by the fact that train travel to Southern California had recently become relatively easy and inexpensive, creating a tourist boom.

Ramona’s Marriage Place, previously (and once again) known as the Estudillo House, was unique in that there was no documented visit by the author, and that the location of Ramona’s marriage in the novel is not well described. Nevertheless, they marketed themselves as such and enjoyed a great deal of popularity.

This card is one among a group of six Ramona-based cards that I found in a shop as part of a lot of several California cards. Each of them has the “From Ramona’s Marriage Place” rubber stamp on the back, and were probably purchased at the Estudillo House, at the same time by the same tourist. None of the cards appears to be any newer than around 1915 at the very latest. This particular card was published by Edward H. Mitchell of San Francisco.

Ramona and its tourist consequences can probably be credited with keeping much of Old Town San Diego out from under the wrecking ball over the years, and can also be credited with (or blamed for, depending on your point of view) popularizing Mission Revival-style architecture.

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