By: Catalina Andrade

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Since a child the most beautiful thing I found in Chula Vista was the Victorian style houses around Chula Vista’s neighborhood. Now that I live in Chula Vista I continue to be interested in the attractiveness of these houses. After all it is not only that the house was design with the Europe influence, but the time they were built in. In 1887, five-acre lots were sold for $1,500. The only requirement was within six months of purchasing the parcel; the owner had to build a house that could cost no less than $2,000. At the same time these houses became a great complement to the lemon trees with which growers had started experimenting.I can still spot a few of the Eureka Lemon trees, which became Chula Vista's standart crop and Bonnie Brae lemon trees, known for the strength, purity of acid and a lack of seeds and thinness of rind. The “orchard homes” as they were known, became the center of a field full of lemon trees. The house was the main attraction. When I think of how once these houses were part of great lemon and orange valleys, I imagine the immense rows of lemon trees decorating the city with the color of the sun and permeating the air with citrus scent. When I go into my backyard and find the exhilarating aroma of two blooming orange trees, I think that’s how it used to be in Chula Vista. These houses were part of an important time in Chula Vista’s history. When ever I go for a walk around the neighborhood is always inevitable to see a Victorian house. Some of the houses now blend in with the colors of the other houses surrounding it, but others seem to have stop in time. The brown old color of the wood comes throw the other more modern color of other houses. It is these houses that trigger my imagination. It makes me think of how much history is trapped in these houses. I imagine the emotions that have eco the wooden floors and walls of these houses. Every time I pass a Victorian house I will pay attention to the upper windows as if a reflection of an old spirit will appear as in an old scary movie. Big changes came to Chula Vista by World War II with the relocation of the Rohr Aircraft Corporation. The housing and business projects began to replace lemon groves in Chula Vista by the 1950’s. Lemon trees were eventually replaced by manufacturers for the military and aircraft. Orchards gave way to residential developments that provided homes to the manufacturers in the community. The city grew into a new industry. Change is never inevitable. Chula Vista will always be part of change, but the structure of the Victorian houses will always remind those people with gray hair about the long trains of yellow and orange reef cars heading east. After all, these are only houses with a story to tell. I bet yours has one too.

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