James W. Robinson Came to San Diego from Texas in the spring of 1850. Over the ensuing seven years, he was involved in almost every aspect of the town’s development. Thoroughly familiar with American and Mexican law, Robinson developed quite a successful law practice.
In 1853, he built this two-story building as a residence and law office. After his death in 1857, it became the town’s commercial seat, providing office space for the San Diego Herald, the San Diego and Gila Railroad, Wells Fargo, and various other businesses.
In 1868, Robinson’s widow, Sarah, sold the property to long-time Old Town resident Louis Rose, a German Jewish entrepreneur. Rose probably bought it as a residence since he married Matilda Newman, a Jewish widow, the following year. Fire destroyed part of the roof in 1874. By the early 20th century, the building had fallen into ruins.
California State Parks reconstructed it in 1989. It serves as the park’s visitor information center, and it includes a diorama of Old Town San Diego in 1872, built by Joe Toigo.