Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tanya Hanson: The Olivas Adobe

The Olivas Adobe is a great way to “visit” Southern California’s Rancho Period first-hand. Not far from my home, this prime example of adobe (dried clay brick) architecture is unique with its two-story structure. Don Raymundo Olivas added an unusual second floor during the rancho’s hey-day in the late 1840’s, and the house has been restored to its original stature.

Don Raymundo was born poor in 1809 in the tiny pueblo that grew into today’s Los Angeles and joined the Mexican Army in California at 16. As a Lancer (cavalryman), he was assigned to the Presidio (fort) at Santa Barbara, about two hours north of L.A.

It was here in Santa Barbara that Raymundo met Teodora Lopez and married her in November 1832. In gratitude for his loyalty and service, Mexican Governor Juan B. Alvarado granted Raymundo and a friend 4,670 acres of land in today’s Ventura County. Raymundo began ranching this land while Teodora began bearing children. 21 total, eight girls and 13 boys.

When gold was discovered along the American River about four hundred miles north, Raymundo found his own "gold mine" and made a fortune supplying those Forty-Niner miners with beef as well as hides.

These were the golden years for the adobe, with its remodeling and additions and glorious parties. Raymundo’s family prospered until drought in the 1860’s destroyed the cattle empires. He survived by raising sheep.

His death in 1879 was the beginning of the end for the Olivas' fortune, and the adobe house was sold in 1899. Some of the ranchland has become a municipal golf course, some strawberry fields, some subdivisions. After passing through many owners, the adobe itself was purchased by Max Fleischmann, of the yeast empire, who restored the building in 1927. Upon his death, the adobe was given to the City of Ventura, and it opened as a museum in July, 1972. Docent-led tours are frequent.

We local folks enjoy the “Cowboys, Heroes and Outlaws: Passport to the American West” held every summer, with Western reenactors in full regalia as well as pioneer crafts for the kids.

In fact, many fourth-grade schoolchildren take field trips to the adobe for a hands-on two-hour program that brings to life the Rancho Period of California History.

And at Christmas, you can enjoy a holiday candlelight tour that showcases the tradition of Las Posada, where Mary and Joseph seek room at the inn.

It’s a great place to visit. Ya’ll come on down, ya hear?



Linda Broday said...

Hi Tanya, what an interesting blog! Loved the history of the Olivas Adobe. That would be so cool to see. Maybe I'll have to schedule a trip and come visit sometime. There are so many fascinating places to see and so little time to do it.

Tanya Hanson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tanya Hanson said...

I know what you mean, Linda. I fully intend to get to Texas someday.

Thanks for stopping by. oxoxxo

I removed the last post because I misspelled a word LOL. That was all me.

Cheryl St.John said...

I'd love to come visit. The summer event sounds great.

Enjoyed the blog, Tanya.

Maggi said...

Oh - what a nice memory you reminded me of - I remember going there as a youngster! Thanks!

Niki Chanel said...

21 kids? Yikes! That's some romancin'! What a fascinating story about a truly self-made man and a woman that just couldn't say 'no'.

Kathy Bennett said...

Hi Tanya;

Thanks for introducing me to a part of Southern California I wasn't aware of. Interesting blog!

Celia Yeary said...

TANYA--this is a wonderful post! Quite fascinating.21 children? Egads!!! What a woman--no man could stand that much pain.The history behind the Olivas Adobe just whetted my appetite to learn more. And for you to live in that area--what a treat.Thank you for this, and especially the beautiful photos. Celia

Tanya Hanson said...

Thank you, friends all, for responding! It is truly a charming place, and the weather around here just can't be beat, so close to the ocean.

Birthing 21 kids was so noteworthy to me that I used the numerals, not the spelled-out word. Yes, 21! Yikes!

Hugs to you all.