Old Town Temecula Homepage

Welcome to Historic Old Town Temecula.  Rich in history and  traditions Temecula was established in 1859.  Temecula get its name from the Luiseno Indian Band word "Temecunga" from "teme" meaning "sun" and "nga" meaning "the place of the sun" The Luiseno indians lived in the area  during the 1700's. Later the Spanish interpreted and spelled the word as "Temecula" . Its latest interpretation is "The City That Shines Through The Mist". 

100 years ago Shoshone Indians made this valley their home. Over the centuries many famous people "passed this way" including mountain men like Jedediah Smith, Indian scout Kit Carson and authors Helen Hunt Jackson and Erle Stanley Gardner that have had two Temecula schools name after them.  

In 1904, Walter Vail bought 87,500 acres (four Spanish land grants) and drove 1,000 head of cattle from Arizona. It was the last large cattle drive in the United States. It remained a working cattle ranch for the next 60 years. in 1882, when the Santa Fe Railway came through our valley, Old Town Temecula was born.

The first known European to discover the valley was Father Juan Norberto de Santiago, in October 1797, while seeking a site for a new mission. Temecula was one of the stops on the route of the Butterfield Stage and in 1859 became the location of the seventh post office in California. The first post office was in San Francisco.

During the later 1900's, a developer tried to change the name of the area to Rancho California, but when Temecula became a city, voters stuck with the old town name which came from Luiseno. The name's meaning varies, but includes "that place where the sun shines through mist."

The I-15 corridor between Los Angeles County and San Diego was completed in the early 1980's and the subdivision land boom began. When Rancho California/Temecula incorporated in December, 1989, the citizens voted to officially name the city "Temecula".

Old Town Temecula Gunfighters 
"I won't be wronged; I won't be insulted; I won't be layed hands on.
I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them."  John Wayne - "The Shootist"

Temecula had its share of excitement in the late 20ís and 30ís. There were murders, a bank robbery, a flood, and visits by Hollywood celebrities. Prize fighters Jack Dempsey and Jack Sharkey worked out in a makeshift ring on the second floor of the old Welty building at Front and Main Streets over the Blind Pig Saloon and some moonshining was conducted in the surrounding hills.
The Old Town Temecula Gunfighters perform shootouts in Old Town. To find out about performances safety shows or other info. Contact lobooldwst@dconn.com.

Historic Buildings

Welty Building
Mr. & Mrs. R.J. Welty built this store/saloon about the same time as the hotel. In 1902 Joe Winkles bought it and named it "Ramona Inn". In the 1920's a "Blind Pig Saloon" with gymnasium hosted prize fighters Jefferies, Sharkey and Dempsey for workouts. Today an antique store and deli occupy the building.
Wine Cellar - Temecula Jail 
Originally built as a wine cellar with rubble granite from the Temecula Quarry, later known as the "jail" when used by the sheriff to hold lawbreakers. Fine quality Temecula granite was used for headstone, hitching posts and curbstones on San Francisco's Market Street.
Welty Hotel/Temecula Hotel
Built in 1882 by R.J. and Mary Welty, the year the railroad came to Temecula, It burned down in 1981 and was rebuilt in the same year. Bought by Dr. and Mrs. Horace Parker in 1960, renamed "Temecula Hotel" and restored to its turn-of-the-century decor. It is now a private residence
Temecula Mercantile
Built in 1891 from local bricks, Mr. Burnham ran this complete "shop center" for ranchers for 60 years. A terminal for jerkline freighters who delivered supplies to isolated ranches. See granite hitching posts and steps. Now
the home of the Old Town Community Theater.
First National Bank of Temecula 
Built in 1914, it was the first poured cement building constructed in Inland California. Mr. Vail called it his "pawn shop". Robbed only once in 1930. Upstairs featured a community center and dance hall. Closed in 1914, now a Mexican restaurant.
St. Catherine's Catholic Church (Old Town Chapel)
Built in the early 1920's with construction fund raised by a big fiesta thrown by Mahlon Vail, the building was moved from its original location to
Sam Hicks Park where it will serve as part of our new Museu
m Facility.
Machado's Store
Built in 1892 by Macedonia Machado, this general merchandise store later became the Temecula station post office with Mr. Machado serving as post master. For a long time it was the "Long Branch Saloon" and is now and antique mall.

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