I’m sure you’ve heard about the Hidden Stairs in La Mesa, but do you know where they are? Or, do you know WHY they were built? Kyle Whissel talks with Jim from the La Mesa Historical Society to learn more about these secret stairs and the history behind them.
To learn more about the Mount Nebo & Windsor Hill hidden stairs, reach out to the La Mesa Historical Society:
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How’s it going, guys? Did you know about the hidden stairs of Mount Nebo in La Mesa? I’m Kyle Whissel with Everything East County and we’re going to tell you all about ’em. Jim, how are you, my friend? Doing good sir. I am excited to have you out here. We are at the hidden stairs of Mount Nebo. So, we want to show everybody all the cool things, some of the hidden gems in and around East County. This is definitely one of ’em. Tell us a little bit about the hidden stairs.
Well, the hidden stairs are actually public walkways that anybody can take and go up and down the hill here in Mount Nebo. They actually date to two separate subdivisions here in Mount Nebo, the Lookout Park subdivision of 1907 which is down a little below us and up here to the summit on the Windsor Hills subdivision. So these were put in, they were sort of cutting edge things in suburban development at the time and so this was done to try to get people to want to come up here, buy a lot, build a house. And which eventually they did.
And they can get a builtin exercise routine. They don’t even have to go anywhere, just walk out the door and run the stairs, right.
I mean the goal, of course, was to allow neighbors to be able to go up and down these steep streets without having to go all the way to the end of the streets, right? It gives them mobility to access and get down to where all the businesses were and everything going on in the village.
So they started out to connect the neighbors together and now for those workout enthusiasts, its become a nice little place to get a little sweat going on.
Yeah, and you can do that because as you’ll see when you see some of the views there are some steep elements to this.
Yeah, and if you’ve never been up here the views are insane. I mean you can see Cowles Mountain. You can see El Capitan. You can see everything out here. Really, really beautiful place. So this is in La Mesa. You’re with the La Mesa Historical Society. Tell us a little bit about the historical society and what you guys do for La Mesa.
Well, we’re a nonprofit organization. We manage the McKinney House Museum and a research archive. We’re open on Saturdays, people can come down and research their property. They can visit our museum. We also do a lot of events. In fact, our home tour last year was done up here on Mount Nebo. We’ve done a home tour here in Mount Nebo amongst other neighborhoods in the area. And so, that’s just part of what we do. That’s the major fundraiser that allows us to be as a nonprofit all-volunteer organization to promote and preserve the history of La Mesa for everybody.
That’s awesome and you said houses started being built on this mountain in the 20s correct?
Yeah, so it’s an interesting story. The original subdivision Lookout Park dates actually to 1908 and the Park-Grable Company which was the first sort of major developer, quote-unquote, major developer back in 1908 of the La Mesa area and the Downtown Village area. And they only got up to Prospect Peak which is where the little Prospect Park is today, just below us here. And then in the 1920s, another developer out of San Diego name of Love and Towey came in here and they put the rest of it up here to the top of the summit which is known as Windsor Hills. And so you’ll see those names used interchangeably sometimes talking about Mount Nebo which was named by Sherman Grable. And if you know anything about your biblical history, Mount Nebo is where Moses supposedly saw the Promised Land. So a little subtle marketing there to buy a lot where you can see the Promised Land.
So, if I follow these stairs down I pretty much end up in La Mesa village.[Jim] That’s right. [Kyle] And there’s a lot of amazing restaurants. We do another show called, East County Eats where we feature all those restaurants. What are some of your favorites?
Farmer’s Table, BO beaus, Centifoni’s.[Kyle] City Tacos. [Jim] City Tacos. Obviously, the Fourpenny if you’re a Scotsman, you’ll love the Fourpenny House.
Alright, so I’ve heard of this area referred to as a couple of things, Mount Nebo, Windsor Hill. Help me understand where the Windsor Hill name comes from.
Yeah, so in the 20s another developer from San Diego named Love and Towey came in and they had done a couple of other subdivisions and in the 20s you really start to begin seeing sort of this sort of marketing these subdivisions as sort of like the dream home where you’re going to own your castle. And of course, they’re looking at how could we promote this? Took Windsor Castle from England to give you this sort of revival style with the assumption they would build revival style homes here that were popular in the 20s. And so they sort of use that name to sort of say, you can build your castle here in Windsor Hills. And they were pretty heavy-duty as much of the advertising in the 20s, they tend to be pretty flamboyant and they happened to just take advantage of a fellow who was in town one day, doing a little tour and his name was Babe Ruth. You may have heard of him, he was a baseball player. And so he actually did a couple of ads for Windsor Hills and this led to a lot of mythology that he had built a house here and that he lived here and owned a property, but he never actually did that. But he did do the ads and so that’s something that comes up a lot is wanting to know where Babe Ruth’s house is. Well, he never really lived here, but he did do some adds for them.
Very cool. Want to thank you–[Man] Look over here.
Okay, want to thank you guys so much for watching this episode of Everything East County. If you want to get connected with the La Mesa Historical Society, they’re always doing fun events. They can tell you about the history of your home if you live here in La Mesa. Check ’em out, lamesahistory.com. Also, if you’re looking for some fun places to eat around town, we’ll have some links down below to some of our favorite restaurants in the La Mesa area. Want to thank you guys so much for tuning in to Everything East County. I’m Kyle Whissel and there is some food for thought.