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The J. G. Braye Residence and Bunk House by J. S. Lewis & E. M. Ramsey 1988

Last Updated: 16th Oct 2009

By Scott L. Ritchie

See locality: Himalaya Mine (Himalaya pegmatite; Himalaya dikes), Gem Hill, Mesa Grande District, San Diego Co., California, USA

Reprinted from Lewis, J. S., and Ramsey, E. M. 1988. Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California; A History of Black Americans in California; Noted Individuals - The Bray Residence/Bunk House. California Department of Parks and Recreation, Office of Historic Preservation; December.

A History of Black Americans in California:

The Bray Residence/Bunk House
Julian Union District, San Diego County

Bray Residence/Bunk House, San Diego County

The Bray Residence is no longer in existence, but the 40-x-40-foot board-and-batten bunk house still stands on its original location, 300 feet east of the house site. This three-room structure, built during J. Goodman Bray's tenure, was used to house mine workers.

The Himalaya Mine in the Mesa Grande area, San Diego County, 11 miles south of Palomar Mountain, is the site of a great tourmaline discovery. The State Mineral Bulletin (1905) reported it to be the richest gem tourmaline mine in North America. Both the discovery and exploitation of the mine are attributed to J. Goodman Bray, a Black man from New York. Around 1898, Bray was sent to the Mesa Grande Region on a scouting mission for a New York jeweler. He located the mine on a small ranch and quietly purchased the property from its unsuspecting owner.

The Himalaya Mining Company acquired the mine and started gemstone production sometime between 1898 and 1903. Bray held the position of mine superintendent until the mine closed in 1913. A geologist and Cornell University graduate, Bray had a national reputation as a gem expert, even before developing the Himalaya Mine. Superintendent of the county's richest tourmaline mine, he became known as the Tourmaline King of California, and was remembered by a former mine foreman as a remarkable man.

Bray had the superintendent's house built on a foundation of rocks and crystal containing actual tourmaline prisms in the rough. For more than a decade, Bray and his wife lived in what has been described as a spacious redwood-sided bungalow. Fire destroyed the house in 1954.

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