Old Sacred Heart Parish in San Diego somewhat of a mystery

Location of abandoned church that may have been Sacred Heart in San Diego. The intersection is of Collins and Center. To the north would have been the Oil Belt Chevrolet, caddy corner the Modern Pharmacy, and to the west what was the old Piggly Wiggly.

Saturday, March 15, I had the pleasure of throwing the first pitch of the 2014 San Diego Little League season. I was representing the Diocese of Corpus Christi. Perhaps some background information is in order.

In 1994, when I was serving my first term as mayor of San Diego I suggested to the Little League that they use an abandoned field on the north side of town as their field. The Little League had been bouncing around from one location to another for years, ever since the political machine had ordered the original field at Plaza Alcala be leveled in retribution for the opposition of some Little League leaders.

The field on the north side of town had been developed by the county on what they believed was abandoned property. As it turned out, the Catholic Church owned the property and the county in turn abandoned the field. The field was solidly built and would offer the Little League a fine home.

As mayor I worked out a 20-year lease with Father Benito at St. Francis de Paula and the diocese. That lease was scheduled to expire this year. Danny Cubriel, a longtime supporter of the Little League, contacted me at my new job with the diocese. Father Benito also called and asked that I do what I could to continue the lease. Long story short, the diocese renewed the lease with the city for another 20 years and the Little League asked that someone from the diocese come throw the first pitch at Saturday’s opening ceremonies.

As a sidebar to this story, I began to wonder whether this was the location of Sacred Heart Parish that existed in the San Diego for about six years at the turn of the 20th century. According to newspaper accounts, the old Catholic church, which stood at the east side of the main plaza was torn down and moved to the north plaza where it would continue services while the new church was built. (Corpus Christi Weekly Caller, February 14, 1908) A month later, on March 16, the newspaper reported “services [were] held for first time in old church on north plaza.”

After the new church was to be completed the old church was to be used as a second parish named Sacred Heart. The location of the “north plaza” is not clear, nor is it clear whether that would be the location for Sacred Heart. There were two plazas at the time in San Diego, the one in front of the church and the one on what would become Highway 44, where the original Little League was located and where the Pan de Campo was held for years.

My research thus far has not cleared up this question. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of San Diego in 1922 show an abandoned and partly dilapidated church at the intersection of Collins and Center Streets. This is caddy corner from the Modern Pharmacy where the Salinas gas station was in the 1960s when I was growing up.

The map does not indicate whether this was a Catholic church but the diagram suggests to me that it may have been–it somewhat resembles the layout of the old church. To my knowledge, this was never a plaza–the 1885 map only shows one plaza.

There are more questions than answers, but these are an interesting combination of facts. If anybody has any information on the location of Sacred Heart, please let me know. In the meantime I will continue researching this matter and will update you if I am able to nail down any more information.