Rómulo Pico Adobe

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Rómulo Pico Adobe
Romulo Pico Adobe, MIssion Hills.JPG
Rómulo Pico Adobe, 2008
Rómulo Pico Adobe is located in Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Rómulo Pico Adobe
Location 10940 Sepulveda Boulevard, Mission Hills, Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°16′8″N 118°28′3″W / 34.26889°N 118.46750°W / 34.26889; -118.46750Coordinates: 34°16′8″N 118°28′3″W / 34.26889°N 118.46750°W / 34.26889; -118.46750
Built 1853
Architect Unknown
Architectural style No Style Listed
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 66000211
CHISL # 362
Significant dates
Added to NRHP 13 November 1966[2]
Designated LAHCM September 21, 1962[1]

Rómulo Pico Adobe, also known as Ranchito Rómulo and Andrés Pico Adobe, was built in 1853 and is the oldest residence in the San Fernando Valley,[3] making it the second oldest residence in Los Angeles. Located in the Mission Hills section of the city, the Rómulo Pico Adobe is a short distance from the San Fernando Mission (Mission San Fernando Rey de España). It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

Early history[edit]

Located on Sepulveda Boulevard in Mission Hills, the original part of the Romulo Pico Adobe was built in 1834 by Tongva-Fernandeño, Tataviam-Fernandeño, and Chumash-Ventuaño Native Americans (Indians) from the San Fernando Mission.[4] The original purpose of the structure is unknown, though the adobe was located in the center of the Mission's orchards and surrounding vineyards.

Before 1846, the original adobe consisted of what is now the living room. In 1845, Juan Manso and Andrés Pico had been granted a nine-year lease by his brother Governor Pío Pico for the Mission San Fernando Rey de España lands. In 1846 the Pío Pico government sold Eulogio de Celis the secularized Mission lands, nearly the entire San Fernando Valley, as the Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando which included the Pico Adobe. The dining room and library were added during the time of de Celis' ownership.[3] De Celis vacated the property in 1853 and sold Andrés Pico an undivided half interest in the Rancho, which included the southern half of the Valley, the San Fernando Mission compound, and the adobe. It is unknown if the adobe was used for any purpose for the next 20 years. In debt, Andrés Pico had sold his southern half-interest in the Rancho ex-Mission San Fernando to his brother Pío Pico in 1862. In 1873, Rómulo Pico and Andres Pico found the house, on the northern half of the divided Rancho, in a dilapidated state as a result of abandonment.[3] Rómulo is credited for restoring the adobe and adding a kitchen and two side wings. He also placed wooden flooring over the original tile floor. A second story was added in approximately 1873,[4] Pio Pico sold his southern half of the San Fernando Valley to Isaac Lankershim in 1869. In 1874, the heirs of Eulogio de Celis sold their northern half of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando lands to northern Californians, California State Senator Charles Maclay and his partners George K. Porter, a San Francisco shoe manufacturer, and his brother Benjamin F. Porter. It did not include the Mission ruins and immediate surroundings. Rómulo and Catarina Pico continued to live at "Ranchito Rómulo" ('Rómulo's Little Ranch') for many years before moving to Los Angeles.[5] They kept the adobe until the late 1890s, using it for overnight stays during return visits to the valley. In the following years it was rented or sold several times, eventually being abandoned.[3] The vacant structure deteriorated and was subjected to vandalisms during the first two decades of the 20th Century. Thieves and scavengers picked apart the adobe, including some that dug up the floors and knocked down walls in search of fabled buried gold and 'treasure.'[3]

Deterioration and restoration[edit]

Dining room at Rómulo Pico Adobe with original fireplace

The adobe was allowed to deteriorate in the early 20th Century, and treasure hunters began to dig up the walls, having been told of buried treasure. In 1930, Mark Raymond Harrington, curator of the Southwest Museum, purchased the property from the heirs of the Lopez family. Harrington restored the adobe after acquiring it. He later wrote:

When I took over the Romulo Pico house about 1930 the walls were still standing, but the roof, stairway, doors, windows, and many of the window and door frames were missing; also most of the cross beams and most of the floor. I did not 'rebuild' the walls, but I did replace three or four layers of adobe blocks around the top of the walls, the originals having been damaged by the weather. I put in new timbers, new floors, and a new staircase. I regard the main building as having been built in the Mission period - probably early 1830s, the wings possibly added by the Picos. ... The only changes I made were to build an addition to the north wing of the house; put a fireplace in the living room (only the dining room had one originally), rebuild the patio walls and build a garage.[5]

Current use as a living museum[edit]

The Pico Adobe's courtyard

In 1965, the City of Los Angeles purchased the property. The adobe was damaged in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. The city removed the chimney, and a section of the office wall which separated had to be repaired. The exterior and grounds are administered by the city Department of Recreation and Parks. The adobe itself is managed by the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, which restored the interior and operates a "living museum" at the adobe. The adobe is also used for the Historical Society's monthly meetings, weddings, receptions, breakfasts, dinners, and picnics. Two special affairs are "Rancho Days", depicting early California living, held on the third Sunday of September; and Las Posadas, the enactment of the Mexican Christmas procession on the Saturday before Christmas.[6]

Also in the park is the Lankershim Reading Room, the only remaining structure of the Lankershim Ranch, which once covered a large part of the southern San Fernando Valley. The small octagonal building was moved to the park in 2001.

Designation as historic site[edit]

California Historical Marker at the Pico Adobe

The Pico Adobe has been listed as a historic building at the city, state, and national level as follows:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Los Angeles Department of City Planning (2007-09-07). "Historic - Cultural Monuments (HCM) Listing: City Declared Monuments" (PDF). City of Los Angeles. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Kielbasa, John R. (1998). "Andres Pico Adobe". Historic Adobes of Los Angeles County. Pittsburg: Dorrance Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8059-4172-X. .
  4. ^ a b c "Rómulo Pico Adobe (Ranchito Rómulo)". Stateof California Office of Historic Preservation. 
  5. ^ a b "Andres Pico Adobe". San Fernando Valley Historical Society. 
  6. ^ "Andres Pico Adobe". City of Los Angeles Dept. of Parks and Recreation. 
  7. ^ a b "Historic-Cultural Monument Listing". City of Los Angeles. 

External links[edit]