Knox House Museum

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The Knox House Museum built in 1876 

The Knox House Museum is part of a hotel built in 1876 near what is now the southwest corner of Main Street and Magnolia Avenue. Originally a two-story, seven-room structure serving as Knox's residence and hotel, it soon boasted an add-on dining room for guests on the east side.

Back in 1870, when gold was discovered in Julian, travel on the road between Julian and San Diego grew significantly and Knox recognized the need for a hotel. The hotel was halfway between the two areas, so teamsters, miners, and drovers stopped for the night at the bend in the road (Magnolia and Main) just as the road turned north toward Julian.

Knox built a hotel and some corrals at a cost of $1,000. The parlor area was the first post office and Mr. Knox was the postmaster for 90 residents. The original building became the house of Mr. and Mrs. Knox and their four children while they ran a 24 room hotel. The years 1895-1912 are what the Knox House Museum reflect. The products found on display were easily available to anyone within driving distance of a railroad.

In 1912, the area around the hotel was incorporated as the City of El Cajon.  In 1915, new owners moved the building to the rear of the lot and also added an annex. In the 1940's, new construction was scheduled for the south side of Main Street.  So, the building was purchased and moved by S.H. Mathews to the southeast corner of Lexington and Magnolia Avenues to become his family home.  

In 1972, the City of El Cajon purchased the hotel from the Mathews Estate and moved it to its present location to become the historical focus of the City. The City is responsible for the exterior of the building and the grounds, while members of the Historical Society maintain the interior and conduct tours. 

The Museum is located at 280 N. Magnolia Avenue, El Cajon CA 92020.  Admission is free, but memberships and donations are welcome.  

To learn more about joining the El Cajon historical Society, visit, email them at, or call (619) 444-3800.  Private and classroom tours can be arranged by leaving a message at (619) 444-3800.