The history of this little house

This corner of Mission Hills will change in a near future, so to close this chapter of history, I wanted to share all the photos and stories we gathered about this little red house we rented and loved for the past 25 years .

Our clients called it “The little French shop” or “The French shop ” some kids “The Red shop ” but in fact it wasn’t always red actually … Here is a stunning photo of how this corner looked like back at the beginning when this house was built in 1920 .

At that time the house was divided into two duplex . One entrance on Fort Stockton and one on Goldfinch . We still had the two addresses and two electric meters. This is why there were also two fireplaces in the shop all open into one large space … just in case you had be wondering !

Mission Hills was a quiet residential neighborhood. We met one of the member of the first family who lived there and she brought us a photo taken in front of the Goldfinch entrance .

Jacqueline and Dorothy Griswold’s grand parents Olive and Perry D Griswold are here in front sitting on the chairs. On the left is Nellie Griswold.

Just about a month ago, I received an incredible email . Jillian had been doing some ancestry research and recently found the address of his family’s home in San Diego . When he put it in google maps, he found out the house still existed and was our store!

Here is Jillian family story : “My Great Great Grandparents Steve and Dollie lived on the Goldfinch side ( here pictured with their 3 youngest children) while my great grandparents Harold and Wilma lived in the other duplex on the Fort Stockton side with my grandfather Bob and his 3 siblings. I’m fairly sure they lived there from the late 30’s to the early 50’s ”

Steve and Dollie lived in Missouri and Iowa in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, where Steve was a farmer and Railroad worker. Family lore says that Dollie and her family traveled in a covered wagon across the west. They were in their 60’s when they moved to San Diego with their son Harold and his wife Wilma. Harold worked as an aircraft welder and served in the Army Air Corps from 1945-1946. Wilma loved to ride her bike around San Diego and Balboa Park.
Their oldest son, my grandfather Bob, met my grandmother on a blind date in San Diego, and after they were married, they moved, along with Harold and Wilma, to Los Gatos CA where they ran a successful Auto Body shop! Our family has lived in ‘Silicon Valley’ since then “

Steve and Dollie with their 3 youngest children on Goldfinch street

That is an amazing picture Harold and Wilma on Fort Stockton Drive ! I wish the palm tree was still there. Thank you Jillian for sharing your family story,making this puzzle complete .

Then the house became a business : A Pet Shop. We heard many stories about it as people remembered a cage with a monkey named Josephine outside at the corner ! We never seen any photos but those would be something .

Our landlords Albert and Carol Regis bought the Pet shop in 1961 when they moved from Milwaukee. They ran it until they finally retired in spring of 1995. Their story was somehow similar to ours . They wanted to change careers, had packed everything they owned and moved to San Diego to start this new life and a business they loved as they were so passionate by animals. They were selling birds, a lot of birds. Our storage room was an entire bird cage and the back yard was totally filled with allow bird seeds . They had fishes ( we found the tank on the fireplace ) , horse meat and were grooming too ! They were living in the back of the shop for a few years when they started before to buy a house in Alpine where they lived until they passed away a few years ago .

When we came to look for a location for our shop back in December of 1995 , we had looked in Solana Beach on Cedros and in Del Mar too but our heart was set on this house . Our concept was to have the shop in a house and this looked just what we had imagined back in France before to even put a foot here . On some mail that was inside the shop we could read the name of the owners and a newly made friend helped us contact the Regis . We met and our story of packing our life to start a new career to do something we loved doing together resonate with them . After keeping this place closed since they had retired , they offered us to rent it , telling us we should live in the back just like they did to save money at the beginning . And just like that we became the new tenants of the old Mission Hills Pet shop.

Thank you Robert for sharing these photos and newspaper articles with us
Our fist Dollar , keys with Mission Hills Pet key chain and an envelop with bird tags in it

Our dear client and local resident Molly use to work at the Pet shop. She shared many stories with us as well . Thanks for being part of our story too !

Molly how came to say good bye on our very last days at the shop .

December 1995 , we did not have a lease yet but we did shake hands and with these folks it was just as good. We had faith , trust and a good feeling that all would be OK …and all went well until we too were retiring closing the story of this little red house at the corner !

Some have stories about the people who lived here or worked at the Pet shop…we hope we have inspired you and filled your memory with stories of when we use to have our little slice of Provence right here at the entrance of Mission Hills .

Last summer 2021 , our hydrangeas really made us proud !

Next post will be more history ; this time about the house we are moving to in Provence …my great grand parent’s home ! Please follow this blog to receive an email when a new post in up !

10 thoughts on “The history of this little house

  1. I loved the photos and the history of the the house before the “French shop” . And the parallel of your story of dreaming to have a shop there just like the previous owners. Also love the old motorcycle and old VW in front of the shop. Looking forward to more history.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will always remember that little red house, filled with many beautiful little joys, possibilities that came from two lovely, beautiful people with big hearts. Thank you, for all you gave, to all those fortunate to have found you and the little red house. Blessings.


  3. Thank you for the detailed history of your shop, including the wonderful historical pictures! You’ve left wonderful memories!


  4. ohhhh myyyyy warms my heart through and through I wish you such immense joyeaux back in beautiful Provence and perhaps we shall meet again…..until then. safe happy and good health. when you are in Bonnieux stop in and check out how Mas St. Paul is doing…. we spent many a gorgeous spring with our long time friends who redid the old farmhouse and lived there ….walking the old Roman roads, picnicking with our small children, enjoying the absolutely fabulous atmosphere of it all…….they have since moved back to their family home in Corona Del Mar
    …;times we shall always cherish with them in that special place called Provence….. bon voyage. Cindy


  5. As a native San Diegan (and long-time patron of your beautiful store) I love reading about this history. I wish this house could be designated as historic to preserve this history.


  6. Thank you so much for the account of your little house. You are missed! Happy holidays in Provence.
    With my best wishes,

    Katharina Varney


    1. Thank you Katharina ! We are actually still in San Diego until early January . It is our first Holiday Season not working 7/7 which is such a big deal for us . We plan to enjoy all we missed as well as San Diego for a few more weeks ! Happy Holidays to you too !


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s