The Robinson-Rose House
James W. Robinson came to San Diego from Texas in the spring of 1850 with his wife Sarah. Over the ensuing seven years, he was involved in almost every aspect of the town's development. Thoroughly familiar with American and Mexican law, Robinson developed quite a successful law practice as well as being a respected investor, promoter, and trustee of the school board. In 1853, he built this grand house on the plaza as a residence and law office. The first floor was made of adobe, while the second floor was wood framed. Oddly, the first floor was painted and plastered to look like wood siding while the second floor was painted to look like adobe. Over time, the building served as law and medical offices, jail cell, schoolroom, newspaper office, store, residential apartments, and the County Clerk's office.
In 1868, Robinson's then-widow sold the property to long time Old Town resident Louis Rose, a German Jewish entrepreneur, for $10,000 in gold coins. Sometime around 1900, the house was demolished. California State Park reconstructed the existing replica in 1989. It serves as the park's visitor information center and includes a diorama of Old Town San Diego as it would likely have been in 1872, which was built by Joseph Toigo.