Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Tradewell Middletown Collecion MS 231
MS 231  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (60.32 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Tradewell Middletown Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 231
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
    Date (inclusive): 1869-1991
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English and German.
    Abstract: The collection contains documents related to the Middletown historic district and Mission Brewery in San Diego.
    creator: Tradewell, Thelma C.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Preferred Citation

    Tradewell Middletown Collection, MS 231, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Tradewell Middletown Collection on May 10, 2012.
    Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    Middletown is one of the original historic districts in San Diego. It is 687 acres in size and makes up a long, narrow strip of low hills and tidal flats West of Balboa Park between downtown San Diego and Old Town. This acreage was originally granted to a group of ten investors, including Juan Bandini and Cave Johnson Couts, on May 27, 1850 who paid a total of $3,187 for the land. As Italian immigration into San Diego increased in the late 1800s, an Italian fishing community emerged in the Middletown area. Middletown school was also erected in the district in 1888. The Italian neighborhood was later divided by the construction of the freeway corridor in the mid-twentieth century. Today, Middletown is best known for the historic sites of Mission Brewery Plaza and the Santa Fe Depot, as well as Little Italy and the India Street Art Colony. The district was designated a historic landmark in the late 1980s, and the San Diego mayor declared May 27, 1990 Middletown Founder’s Day. Thelma Tradewell, Chairwoman of the Middletown Property Owners Association at the time, as well as several other local organizations like the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) and Harborview Association, were pivotal in achieving this designation.
    Mission Brewery, located in Middletown, was commissioned by the City of San Diego in the early 1900s, and Wilhem Griesser and Son, a Chicago-based Architectural Firm, was hired for its design. Richard Griesser designed the mission revival-style brewery and oversaw its construction in 1912. The brewery officially opened in 1913. In its heyday, it was a social center that offered beer tastings and lunches to community leaders and was constantly promoting their brew. The brewery was unfortunately short-lived, mostly due to the strong Temperance and Prohibition movements whose influence grew substantially in San Diego between 1910 and 1915. Mission Brewery officially closed its doors in 1917. The building was briefly used as an Isolation Hospital during the Influenza Epidemic in 1919. After its purchase by the American Agar Company in 1923, the building served as a seaweed processing plant until 1986. The brewery was soon designated a National Historic Site in July 1989 for its significant link to Prohibition and due to the fact that it was the first mission revival-style brewery built in the country. The building was renovated around that time and designated as an office complex, with the adjacent land being used for a restaurant and underground parking. This site is known today as Mission Brewery Plaza.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains documents related to the historic district of Middletown as well as Mission Brewery Plaza. This includes information on the history of Middletown and Mission Brewery, as well as documents regarding the designation of Middletown as a historic district, and Mission Brewery as a historic site. The collection also contains maps of the different neighborhoods encompassed by Middletown, as well as an aerial photo of the district. There are papers pertaining to the early inhabitants of the district; Middletown Founder’s Day on May 27, 1990; and the Dedication of the Mission Brewery as a historic site, which also took place in 1990. Other items of interest include research and information on the preservation of historic buildings, the renovation and remodel of Mission Brewery, and recordings of City Council Meetings regarding Middletown’s historic designation.


    The collection is arranged into two series:
    Series I: Middletown Historic District
    Series II: Mission Brewery
    Items within each series are arranged by subject or date.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Bandini, Juan
    Couts, Cave Johnson, 1821-1874
    Foote Development Co..
    Griesser, Richard
    Griesser, Wilhelm
    Harborview Association.
    Lia, Marie Burke
    Lowery, William David
    Middletown Property Owners Association.
    Mission Brewery.
    San Diego (Calif.). City Council.
    Save Our Heritage Organisation.
    Tradewell, Thelma C.
    Historic districts -- California
    Historic landmarks
    Historic preservation
    Little Italy (San Diego, Calif.)
    Middletown (San Diego, Calif.)
    Mission Hills (San Diego, Calif.)
    Old Town (San Diego, Calif.)
    Red-light districts
    San Diego (Calif.)
    Stingaree District (San Diego, Calif.)