October 21, 2005

Tree Planted to Honor Old Town History

Pio Pico Pepper Tree Recognizes Former Governor

Delaware North Companies, operator of Plaza del Pasado in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, has brought back a little Old Town history with the planting of a 10-foot pepper tree on the site where Old Town pioneer Pio Pico planted a row of them more than 180 years ago.

Pico, who was the last governor of California when it was under Mexican rule, was an early land owner in Old Town. He built a house on Juan Street for his mother, Dona Maria Eustaquia Lopez Pico, in 1824. At the time, it was only the sixth house in Old Town.

The last remaining pepper tree from Pico’s grove died sometime in the last 30 years, said Kara Murtey, Plaza del Pasado’s Interpretive and Environmental Services Manager. The new tree was planted in the same spot, which today is near the Casa de Reyes restaurant in Plaza del Pasado.

“This tree represents an important part of Old Town history,” Murtey said. “Delaware North wanted to make sure some of that history lived on in Plaza del Pasado.”

Murtey described Pico as an intriguing figure from California’s past.

“Not only was he a politician, he was also a businessman, gambler and notorious party-thrower,” she said.

Murtey’s job is to ensure everything in Plaza del Pasado is as historically accurate as possible, and tells the story of what life was like in San Diego from the 1820s to the 1870s.

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