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P.O. Box 15967
San Diego, CA 92175
Phone / Fax (619) 269-3924


Mary Hill House

Historical Landmark No. 614
Mary Hill House


Mission Hills Community

Historical Landmark No. 614 - Designated September 2003

Photo courtesy Celeste Williams.

Mary J. Hill (sitting) and an unidentified woman. Old Mission Hills photo of house courtesy Celeste Williams.

Oldest known image of the folk cottage showing spacious lawn. Lower image shows 1911-1915 Index to Property demonstrating Mary J. Hill's co-ownership of various lots with Kate O. Sessions with other prominent San Diego women. This property is now part of the Francis Parker School.
The Mary J. Hill House is an excellent example of an early Pyramidal Folk Cottage in Mission Hills. The architect and builder for the cottage are unknown.

The house was one of three houses owned by Hill that were associated with a common central garden courtyard that overlooked the canyon to the west. While the relationship between the three houses is less obvious today, the historical record reveals some clues. Hill was a dressmaker who lived with her sister and their widowed mother. Hill's sister worked as a milliner, making hats, gowns, shirts, and the like.

The evidence found in San Diego property records strongly suggests that Mary associated with some of the most prominent, civic-minded women of San Diego in her day. In particular, real estate transactions show she was clearly associated with Alice Lee and Katherine Teats, who in 1912 commissioned Master Architect Irving Gill to build a “Scheme of Canyon Houses” on 7th Avenue that were arranged around a common central garden, similar to the arrangement of the Mary J. Hill Cottage.

Perhaps more interesting, though, Hill’s real estate transactions from 1911-1912 also show her involvement in land sales that paved the way to establish the Francis W. Parker School on December 31, 1912. It is not a coincidence that this prestigious school is located on lots directly across the canyon from the Mary J. Hill House. Hill owned parts of these lots with Kate O. Sessions, and the record of her ownership, sale, and the associations with other prominent women is an important piece of San Diego’s history in association with the Mary. J. Hill House.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map composite showing courtyard layout of Mary J. Hill's three houses and proximity to Francis Parker School.

Lot Map showing Mary J. Hill's properties and the co-ownerships of the adjacent block by Hill, Kate Sessions, Alice Lee, and Ellen Sessions, prior to consolidation into Francis Parker School.

Photo courtesy Celeste Williams.

Photo courtesy Celeste Williams.

Photo courtesy Celeste Williams.

Photo courtesy Celeste Williams.

Permission to use this material is granted provided it is attributed as follows:

Copyright © 2010 Ronald V. May and Dale Ballou May, Legacy 106, Inc., www.legacy106.com

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Archaeology & Historic Preservation
Historic House Research • Mills Act Designation