National City Opens its Doors to the Past with a Historic Archive Room

National City is excited to share part of its extensive history with the public at the newly opened National City Historic Archive Room on Brick Row. A new historical site featuring archives that date back to the 1800s has been added to the room.

The room is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will feature old police and cemetery records, Kimball family archives and memorabilia and books about the history of National City.

“San Diego would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for the contributions of Frank Kimball and his family,” stated Museum Curator Janice Martinelli. “From opening the first free school, to bringing the citrus and olive industries to the West, the Kimball family’s list of accomplishments shows how important they were to the settling of San Diego.”

Admission to the archive room is free to the public. Donations are accepted and will be put toward historic preservation in National City. The Kimball Museum and Hannah Lee’s Victorian Teahouse, both located in Brick Row, are also open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tours of the archive room are available by appointment by calling 619-962-4128.

Jacqueline L. Reynoso, president & CEO of the National City Chamber of Commerce, is looking forward to the addition of the archive room to the city’s list of historic places to visit.

“National City has a long and rich history that many people aren’t aware of,” stated Reynoso. “Incorporated on Sept. 17, 1887, we are the second-oldest city in San Diego County and visiting these historical sites is an educational experience that is fun for the entire family and a great way to learn about our roots.”

Other notable historic sites in National City include:

Brick RowBrick Row on Heritage Square

Built in 1887 by Frank Kimball to house prominent railroad executives, Brick Row is an integral part of National City’s Heritage Square, which also houses four meticulously maintained Victorian mansions and the famed Kimball Museum. (923 A Ave.)


Granger Music HallGranger Music Hall

World-renowned architect Irving Gill built the Granger Music Hall for Ralph Granger.  With a fortune derived from the silver mines of Colorado, Granger wanted to build a hall to honor his unending passion for music. In order to be saved from demolition, the Granger Music Hall was relocated to its current site in National City.  Through restorations made by National City residents, the Granger Music Hall presently serves as headquarters of National City’s Historic Society and is available to the public for meetings and special events. (1615 E Fourth St.)

Santa Fe Rail DepotSanta Fe Rail Depot

Influenced by an Italian style of architecture that was popular in the 19th century, the Santa Fe Rail Depot was built in 1882 and the first official train departed from the National City railroad depot on Nov. 14, 1885. The Santa Fe Rail Depot is the only original transcontinental railroad terminus still standing. The restored depot serves as a railroad museum for tours and is also a popular community-meeting place. (W. 23rd St.)

Stein Family FarmStein Family Farm

Bought by the National City Community Development Commission and saved from destruction, the Stein Family Farm is presently a living history museum where late 19th century California farm life is demonstrated.  Here, children and adults can learn about the history of the area, composting, the growing of fruits and vegetables, farm animals and transportation during the 1900s.  Other educational programs for local school children are also provided by the museum. (1808 F Ave.)

Noyes HouseNoyes House

This Victorian house started off as the home of Oliver Noyes, a wealthy businessman who was named National City’s first postmaster. In 2008, a piece of property surrounding the Noyes house was donated by the affluent Walton family (of Wal-Mart fame) to the International Community Foundation. That property soon became home to the Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center, which provides science-based environmental education lessons, hands-on gardening, and hands-on cooking to students and families from underserved communities. (2525 N Ave.)