Ygnacio Palomares Adobe
Ygnacio Palomares Adobe
Ygnacio Palomares Adobe, August 2008
|Location||491 East Arrow Highway, Pomona, California|
|NRHP reference #||71000156|
|Added to NRHP||March 3, 1971|
The Ygnacio Palomares Adobe, also known as Adobe de Palomares, is a one-story adobe brick structure in Pomona, California, built between 1850 and 1855 as a residence for Don Ygnacio Palomares. It was abandoned in the 1880s and was left to the elements until it was acquired by the City of Pomona in the 1930s. In 1939, the adobe was restored in a joint project of the City of Pomona, the Historical Society of Pomona Valley and the Works Project Administration. Since 1940, it has been open to the public as a museum on life in the Spanish and Mexican ranchos. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Of the more than 400 sites in Los Angeles County that have been listed on the National Register, fewer than ten received the distinction prior to the Ygnacio Palomares Adobe.
History and architecture
Rancho San Jose
The Ygancio Palomares Adobe, built between 1850 and 1855, was once the center of the sprawling 22,000-acre (89 km2) Rancho San Jose. The Rancho San Jose consisted of land taken from the Mission San Gabriel in 1834 as part of the Mexican government's secularization decree. In 1837, Mexican Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado granted the land to Ygnacio Palomares and Ricardo Vejar, both Californio sons of New Spain natives. The Rancho San Jose operated by Dons Palomares and Vejar covered land that now forms the communities of Pomona, LaVerne, San Dimas, Diamond Bar, Azusa, Covina, Walnut, Glendora, and Claremont. Palomares initially lived in "La Casa Primera", an earlier adobe which is also operated by the Historical Society of Pomona Valley.
Construction and architecture
Between 1850 and 1855, Palomares built a new home, which is the present historic site. The 13-room adobe was built in a T-shape with a courtyard. The living room and master bedroom were located at the stem of the T, and the adobe also had four more bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen, storeroom, tienda (or store), and storage chambers. The kitchen was located at the north end of the T, close to the outdoor oven (or "horno"). The house has been said to represent the blending of Mexican adobe construction and American styles, with the use of wood-shake roofing and milled-wood flooring on the adobe structure.
Use by the Palomares family
The Palomares Adobe was used for a time as an overnight stagecoach stop at the midway point between Los Angeles and San Bernardino. The Palomares home was reportedly "the heart of the rancho," with its doors open to travelers and a store that provided goods to settlers. The large living room served for many years as a meeting place and a chapel where padres from the San Gabriel Mission would travel once a month to say mass. Ygnacio Palomares and his wife operated the land as a sheep and cattle ranch, grew their own crops, and raised five children at the adobe. The ranch prospered for many years, but a severe drought devastated the ranch in the early 1860s. Smallpox also claimed the lives of three of the Palomares' children, and Don Ygnacio died in 1864.
Don Ygnacio's widow, Dona Concepcion Lopez de Palomares (also known as "Dona China"), began selling off the ranch land in 1865. In 1874, another of the Palomares' children died, and Dona China sold the remaining 2,000 acres (8.1 km2), including the adobe, at $8 an acre, to John R. Loop and Alvin R. Meserve. The new owners, the Meserve family, continued to maintain the adobe as a community gathering place after acquiring it in 1874. Prominent Los Angeles attorney Edwin A. Meserve, later recalled coming to the adobe as "a sickly youngster of 13" in 1877, regaining his health while living in the old adobe. However, by the mid-1880s, the old adobe had been deserted.
Deterioration and restoration
From the 1880s through the 1920s, the adobe was left to the elements and fell into severe disrepair, with whole wings of the house being washed away and the walls and roof crumbling. The dilapidated condition of the adobe is shown in 1938 photographs seen here and here. In 1934, the City of Pomona purchased the land for a reservoir, and the Historical Society of Pomona Valley began plans for restoration of the old adobe. In the spring and summer of 1939, 70 WPA workers began the process of restoring the adobe. The workers used dirt from the Ganesha Gills for adobe mud to build new adobe bricks. The adobe bricks were made using straw as the only binder, molding the bricks in forms by hand, and curing the bricks in the sun. Approximately 25,000 new adobe bricks were used in the restoration process. The cost of the restoration was placed at $54,000. Many of the bricks were made from the broken original adobe bricks, and the new bricks can reportedly be distinguished by the short lengths of straw used to mix with the mud, while marsh grass can be seen in the old adobe bricks.
The restoration was completed in December 1939, and the restored house was furnished with period furniture typical of the California ranchos, much of it donated by Mrs. Harry Walker of San Dimas. The original landscaping was also restored with wisteria vines, wild cherry, black walnut, pomegranates and poplar trees. Charles Gibbs Adams oversaw the landscaping restoration, planting trees, shrubs and rosebushes in the same locations where they had been in the mid-19th Century.
Operation as a museum
The adobe was dedicated and opened to the public in April 1940 as a museum focusing on life in the early California ranchos. At the dedication ceremony, the keys were presented by Pomona's mayor to the Historical Society of Pomona Valley, and Ygancio Palomares, grandson of Don Ygnacio, "danced the dances taught him by his grandmother, his granddaughter Hilda Ramirez, being his dancing partner." The restoration was well-received, with one writer in the Los Angeles Times writing: "The example of this restoration ought to inspire other communities and families to do the same. This adobe has now become an imperishable glorification of early California, and an irresistible lure for modern visitors." Two years later, the Times reported: "The structure has become famous throughout the nation as a permanent museum housing many relics and equipment of the early Spanish days in California." In 1968, it was called "one of the pleasantest and most complete of the rancho restorations."
Members of the Palomares family were invited to move into the restored adobe as caretakers. In December 1939, Porfiero R. Palomares (c. 1871-1942), who was born in the adobe and was the grandson of Don Ygnacio, moved into the restored structure as caretaker with his wife and daughter. Porfiero lived at the adobe until he died there in October 1942. Porfiero's widow, Hortensia Yorba Palomares, continued to live in the adobe until her death in July 1958.
- National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Palomares Adobe Retains Memories of Days of Dons". Los Angeles Times. 1952-11-16.
- Minor Willman (1964-10-11). "Palomares Home: Historic Adobe Links Pomona With Past". Los Angeles Times.
- "Adobe de Palomares". Historical Society of Pomona Valley.
- Ann Frank (1954-10-17). "Old Pomona Adobe Mansion Guards Century of History". Los Angeles Times.
- "Historic Palomares Adobe Rapidly Being Restored". Los Angeles Times. 1939-07-26.
- Ed Ainsworth (1940-04-05). "Along El Camino Real". Los Angeles Times.
- "Restoration". Los Angeles Times. 1954-10-17.
- "Let's Go See ... Early Adobe Links Past to Present". Los Angeles Times. 1957-03-10.
- "Colorful Ceremony Marks Old Adobe's Restoration: Pioneers Present at Celebration Near Pomona; Palomares' Descendants to Occupy House". Los Angeles Times. 1939-12-23.
- "Old Palomares Structure Again Offers Typical Early Californian Hospitality: Builder's Descendants Greet Many Prominent Southland Visitors". Los Angeles Times. 1940-04-03.
- "Historic Adobe in Pomona to Be Reopened". Los Angeles Times. 1958-06-22.
- "Pomona Relives Romantic Past in Palomares Ceremony: Famous Rebuilt Adobe Opened; Early Pomona Valley History Recalled at Palomares Dedication". Los Angeles Times. 1940-04-07.
- "Early Spanish Settler Dies: Porfiero R. Palomares Succumbs in Famous Adobe Near Pomona". Los Angeles Times. 1942-10-19.
- George Lowe (1968-08-25). "Trip of Week: See Palomares Adobe". Los Angeles Times.
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