in 2006

The Villa Montezuma closed in February of 2006. Supporters from all over the world were disappointed to learn that the Villa Montezuma House Museum had been closed, indefinitely.

Owned by the citizens of San Diego, the San Diego History Center operated the house museum for more than 30 years. Due to restrictive hours, waning attendance and financial deficits, the house museum was closed. Quoted as saying that they could not manage the safety and maintenance issues, the former operator terminated their lease.

The City of San Diego has made significant efforts to restore the building, and since 2015, is required to offer tours four times a year if visitors create a login and register through their website:

Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) has offered to operate the Villa Montezuma House Museum on an ongoing basis. They have an excellent track record of opening, operating and restoring the Whaley House Museum, the Adobe Chapel in Old Town San Diego, the Marston House Museum & Gardens in Balboa Park, the Santa Ysabel General Store and the Warner-Carrillo Adobe Ranch House. 

SOHO’s award winning success at the Marston House Museum & Gardens has been remarkable. SOHO made significant improvements and reopened the Marston House within days of signing an operating agreement. Since July 2009, the Marston House is thriving with the stewardship of SOHO.

With so much public support for the Villa Montezuma House Museum to be open on a regular basis and a qualified operator at the ready, there is no reason to hold back any longer. The Villa Montezuma is a San Diego treasure that can flourish with an organization experienced in operating historic sites.

RD Riccoboni donated this beautiful painting of the Villa Montezuma to help support the Marston House at the May Day Celebration silent auction.  Thank you RD Riccaboni for supporting San Diego’s history.

The Villa Montezuma was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 as building #71000183 under the Historic American Building Survey HABS program. Also known as the Jesse Shepard House.


The Villa Montezuma located in San Diego, California.

The Villa Montezuma is a magnificent Queen Anne Victorian mansion located in the Sherman Heights Historic District just off the 5 freeway, near downtown San Diego, California. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Villa Montezuma, aka the Jesse Shepard House, was built in 1887 by master architects Comstock and Trotsche.  Jesse Shepard came to San Diego after touring the royal courts of Europe during his career as a musician. While in San Diego he built the Villa Montezuma and began a new career as an author under the pen name Francis Grierson. The Villa Montezuma is owned by the City of San Diego and the house museum currently does not have regular operating hours.

Save Our Heritage Organisation offers a Petition to the City of San Diego to Operate and Manage the Villa Montezuma House Museum.  Click here for more information and to sign the petition.