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The 130-year-old Teten House on the grounds of the San Dieguito Heritage Museum will be dedicated Saturday after undergoing restoration. Photo by Aaron Burgin
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Historic Teten House to be dedicated Saturday

ENCINITAS — On a warm fall morning, the cream-colored rustic home on the grounds of the San Dieguito Heritage Museum grounds is a bit drafty inside. A couple of large cracks line the walls, as the interior shows its age. There’s even a hole where some birds made their home in one of the walls.

According to the woman who once called the house home in the early 20th century — who passed away two months ago — the place has never looked better.

This is the Teten House, a 130-year-old remnant of colonial Olivenhain that after years of work, spearheaded by a local retired hospital architect, has been restored to beyond its heyday luster. The home will be officially dedicated during a ceremony Saturday, but has been exhibited at the museum for months.

“It has been a long process to get to this point,” said Dave Oakley, the 87-year-old man behind the restoration efforts. “And it’s never going to be done, just like with your own home, there are always going to be things that can be improved.”

Oakley has led efforts to restore the home since 2009, two years after the home was transported to the museum grounds.

The Teten House was a former schoolhouse in the mid-1880s before it was bought by Fred Teten, the local blacksmith, who connected the schoolhouse with the family home to create the structure as it is today. The family grew vegetables and raised turkeys and chickens on the land, selling and bartering the eggs to feed the family.

Dave Oakley tours the newly restored Teten House. Oakley spearheaded the restoration efforts. Photo by Aaron Burgin
Dave Oakley tours the newly restored Teten House. Oakley spearheaded the restoration efforts. Photo by Aaron Burgin

“This was a poor-people house,” Oakley said as he led a tour of the home filled with period furniture, appliances and clothes. “They used anything and everything to survive. They made clothes out of flour sacks. They bartered because they didn’t have money.”

How did Oakley know this? The restoration was guided by members of the Teten family, namely a Fred Teten’s granddaughter, Gladys Teten Shull, who lived in the home until the 1940s.

Shull kept a number of the items on display in the house, from couches, to a large armoire in the bedroom, to Shull’s mother’s wedding dress.

When the home unofficially debuted earlier this year at the museum’s annual barbecue, Shull remarked that the home had never looked better.

“She told me, ‘Dave, the home never looked this good when I lived here,’” Oakley said about Glady Shull, who passed away Oct. 10 at age 89.

But the folks behind the restoration did leave some vestiges of the home’s long and sometimes rough past in order to maintain the authenticity. Several graffiti paintings remain on a wall in the rear of the home, the vestiges of heavy vandalism that occurred when the home was vacant in Olivenhain.

A four-foot charred wooden stud sits propped up on a wall in the living room, a reminder of a fire that occurred on the museum site that nearly destroyed the home.

And a picture of a streetcar, which Shull drew on the walls after she visited San Diego and saw a streetcar for the first time, remains on the wall of her bedroom.

“It has definitely been through a lot,” Oakley said. “But we wanted to make sure the home look and felt like it would have 100 years ago.”

To do that work — which also included pouring a new concrete foundation, repairing the roof and renovating the home’s porches — the museum and restoration crew has relied on nearly $100,000 in donations over the six-year process. Roughly have came from private donations, and $15,000 came from a county community enhancement grant through Supervisor Dave Robert’s office.

Oakley said the group is still looking for about $3,500, which will pay for new wiring so that the power can be turned on at the home, and security lights to be installed.

“We will be able to use it during the evenings, which is something we’ve wanted to do,” Oakley said.

Oakley said he’s especially grateful that Shull was able to see the home before she passed away, and is looking forward to other relatives being present Saturday afternoon, along with local officials who will christen the home and officially kick off it’s second chapter.

“Gladys was a great woman, she was the inspiration for all of this,” he said.

The dedication will take place 2 p.m. Saturday at the museum, 450 Quail Gardens Dr.