UPCOMING EVENTS - see our home page

Tours of the museum are most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1:00, 2:15, and 3:30 (if any special events interrupt this schedule, you’ll see our notice on our home page.) See details and admission fees on our home page. Your admission helps the FOVM’s work to do additional restoration for the Villa Montezuma Museum!

Questions to 619-233-8833 or


Walking Tours of the Sherman Heights Historic District can be arranged for your group of 8 or more.

We love doing a 2-hour walking tour of

Jesse Shepard’s neighborhood, the Sherman Heights Historic District, for your group. Cost is $20 per person. Contact us to schedule at


Permanent Victorians Mount Hope Cemetery Walking Tour - Next one will be October 2024.

The 2-hour walking tour of Mount Hope Cemetery is always a big hit. The cemetery is owned by the City of San Diego, the walk is no cost but reservations will be required. Author Charles Spratley will be your tour guide (“Piercing the Veil: Examining San Diego’s Haunted History”).

More information will be posted closer to events.

Contact the FOVM via phone (619-233-8833)

or via e-mail


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PoeFest, with the talented performers of Write Out Loud, brings literature to life. You must see them, in this most beautiful setting, and celebrate October with us! Details and ticket information for Poefest are posted each September.

The Friends of the Villa Montezuma love speaking about our favorite museum! Below are some of the events where you could find us in person. (See the home page for current events.)

If you’d like the FOVM to speak at your event, please contact us at or 619-233-8833.

Cinballera Salon presented Opera at the Villa on Monday, February 19, 2024: We were pleased to partner with the talented artists of Cinballera who love cinema, ballet and opera, for an evening romantic songs in the Music Room! Open seating limited to 40 guests. Doors open at 6:45 p.m., performances from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Suggested donation $25, to be shared between the performers and the museum. Guests received a voucher to return to see the entire museum and the Marty O exhibit! Free street parking in this residential neighborhood. Reservations were taken by email to We look forward to more memorable evenings of opera in this gorgeous historic setting!

”Permanent Victorians” Walk of Mount Hope Cemetery and Dia de los Muertos. Thanks to all who took the walk back in time with us on Saturday, October 28, 2023, 10:00 a.m. to noon, to see the final resting places of San Diego’s most prominent citizens. This respectful walk was led by FOVM Vice President Charles Spratley, author of the book “Piercing the Veil: Examining San Diego’s Haunted History.”
Our beautiful altar to Jesse Shepard was at the Sherman Heights Community Center through November 2. At the museum you can see our altar to the civilian victims of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine through Sunday, November 12.
Poe & Company: The nonprofit theatrical group Write Out Loud brings literature to life. PoeFest will return in October 2024. On October 28, 2023 for three performances of “Poe & Company” we had dramatic readings of your favorite macabre stories, with the actors of PoeFest. Thank you to our talented actors and all who attended for this exceptional evening!

Artists Salon at the Villa on August 28, September 3 and 10, 2023, 8:00 p.m.: This special live event showcased the art of the theatre in four acts. Guests saw the 1916 one-act play “Overtones” by Alice Gerstenberg, learned about the art of costume design, experienced the inspiration of the poet, and trilled to the stagecraft of a sword fight! Thank you to all who attended this unique event and to all the talented people who participated! We hope to do more in the future. Thanks to Kaivan Mohsenzadah for creating this event!

Art Exhibit - The HeART & Soul of Ukraine: This special art event of contemporary Ukrainian and Ukrainian-American artists was a great success! Thanks to all who joined us from January 27-May 28, 2022. Over one year ago Russia invaded Ukraine. These works showed a range of emotions from “peaceful Ukraine” to “Ukraine on fire.” We were thrilled to host these extraordinary paintings on tapestries depicting various ethnic groups from Ukraine as well as additional paintings on canvas and paper. The art ranged from beautiful, to moving, to heartbreaking. Thanks to the show sponsors (Northgate Market, Phillips 66, and David Malcolm).Thanks to artists IraVish, Igor Poronik, Orysys Barua, Zoriana Lylo-Otkovych, and Vira Ustianska.

”Permanent Victorians” Walk of Mount Hope Cemetetery - April 22, 2023
The FOVM’s annual history walk of Mount Hope Cemetery is a 2-hour respectful walk through San Diego’s past. See the final resting places of San Diego’s most prominent citizens. 

During the month of October visit our altar to Jesse Shepard/Francis Grierson at the Sherman Heights Community Center during the Dia de los Muertos festival (with over 25 beautiful altars and ofrenda to see).  

Meet at the museum at the corner of 20th & K Streets. 
Below are FOVM Board members Alessandra Moctezuma, Todd McKerrow, and Barbara Busch in front of the FOVM altar designed by Alessandra.


The FOVM was delighted to be asked by the City to take hundreds of people through the mansion on June 27, 2015. Thank you to City of San Diego  Council member David Alvarez, Park and Rec, and City Engineering. Thank you to our elected officials (County Supervisor Greg Cox, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, State Senator Ben Hueso, and Juan Vargas in the House of Representatives) for their support and proclamations honoring the Friends of the Villa’s work to get the Villa restored and reopened. Thanks to our FOVM members and friends who helped guide in Victorian costume, including those who are our supporters at the Victorian Ladies Society and the San Diego Costume Guild. Read more about the City’s “soft” reopening event in the article in the San Diego Union-Tribune here. 

April 29-May 1, 2015: Welcome new members from California Preservation Foundation Conference
The FOVM enjoyed meeting preservation professionals and enthusiasts from around the state at the CPF conference. Thanks to all the new members who joined at the event. The FOVM chair, Louise Torio, was delighted to be asked to help with the local Realtors training day (she shared her knowledge of the Mills Act property tax reduction for owning a historic building). The bus tour of San Diego historic districts included Jesse Shepard’s neighborhood, the Sherman Heights Historic District. Local real estate agents were treated to a special tour of the Villa Montezuma Museum (thanks to the City for this special treat).

Journal of San Diego History, Vol. 59, No.3
Thank you to Dr. Molly McClain and Dr. Iris Engstrand for asking us to contribute to the Journal of San Diego History with an article about the Villa Montezuma Museum at 125 years old.  We were pleased to record our long history of support and friendship with the San Diego Historical Society (now San Diego History Center) and we’re grateful to all the FOVM members who contributed to this article. More good things are to come for the Villa Montezuma Museum! Old photos? Tell us!

“Piercing the Veil” Book Release, 
FOVM Board Member Charles Spratley: Oct. 18, 2012
FOVM Board member Charles Spratley’s book, “Piercing the Veil: San Diego’s Haunted History,” has been released! This is a wonderful look at the REAL history behind the ghostly legends of San Diego. Charles’ purpose isn’t to debunk myths or tell you what to believe. Rather, he gives you the fascinating truths behind the stories, proving that fact is stranger -- and often more interesting -- than fiction. Thanks to our friends at the San Diego History Center for hosting Charles’ book launch on October 18. See the interview with Charles on San Diego Living here.

Latino Music Festival
Each summer the Sherman Heights Community Center puts on a festival with great music. We get to share history while dancing to wonderful bands. We think Jesse would approve! The most heartwarming part was meeting area residents who grew up with all the wonderful events and programming at the Villa and who told us how important it was for them. Thank you to all the area residents who support the FOVM! 


Archaeological dig at the Villa: May 2012
Before the City could replace the collapsed sewer line, we needed to know what might be underground in the area where the new pipes will go. In the Villa’s backyard we’ve always known of the circular brick structure buried. The archaeological dig confirmed that this was not a planter, but a fountain, made of the same Victorian-era brick as the original foundation of the house. At some point the shallow fountain was leveled and filled in. The remains of the fountain were reburied and protected in place so the digging for the new sewer pipe will not disturb it. 

Gaslight Gathering
This annual Steampunk convention in San Diego is terrific fun, and we love giving talks there. FOVM Board chairperson Louise Torio spoke on “A Victorian Spiritualist in San Diego: Jesse Shepard and the Villa Montezuma Museum.” FOVM vice chair Charles Spratley spoke about the origins of Victorian Spiritualism and his book, “Piercing the Veil,” about San Diego’s “haunted” sites. Thank you to all the new Friends we make at this event.

Valley of Shadows: September 18, 2011
The multitalented Jesse Shepard was better known in the second half of his life as author Francis Grierson. Grierson’s masterpiece is “The Valley of Shadows: Recollections of the Lincoln Country, 1858-63.” In this work from 1909, Grierson looked back at his childhood growing up in Illinois, with all the characters and conflicts in the turbulent years before the Civil War. Thanks to San Diego actor and playwright Kirk Allen and his cast of talented actors, the dialog and the dialects of The Valley of Shadows came alive during these presentations of selected readings from this important work. The event took place at the Point Loma Actors Theatre on the 163rd birthday of Jesse/Francis.

Pictured are actors Mysti Sadler, Kirk Allen, David Brubaker, Elouise Potomac, James Brown, Lolly Boroff. Not shown: Gwen Walls.

Villa Montezuma Museum on TV: 
July 18, 2011

The FOVM was pleased to welcome Larry Himmel and CBS Channel 8 to tour the museum and the Sherman Heights Historic District. Click here to see the segment. Rest in peace, Larry.
Thank you to the City of San Diego Park and Recreation team (Sergio and Francisco pictured at left, with Louise Torio, the late Larry Himmel, Charles Spratley, and Dr. Maria Bolivar).