Gina Reyes (City of Ventura), Mary Thompson (Vice President Olivas Adobe Historical Interpreters-AKA docents) with Glenda the doggie, Frank Shugart (Olivas Adobe Historical Interpreter) and Kathryn Dippong Lawson (City of Ventura) sprucing up Olivas. Photo by Richard Lieberman
by Richard Lieberman
The Olivas Adobe, an adobe structure, was built in 1841 by Raymundo Olivas on the north bank of the Santa Clara River. While the home was built in 1841 it was expanded in 1849 to include a second story which made it unique at the time. The land had originally been part of a grazing area for the cattle herds of Mission San Buenaventura. Olivas and his wife and twenty-one children lived at the site until 1889. It later became Max Fleischmann’s hunting lodge and after his death, his foundation donated the land and the house to the City of Ventura.
Two city workers and two volunteers took advantage of the city ordered temporary closure of the site to make needed repairs and perform routine maintenance.
Kathryn Dippong Lawson, Public Arts and Historic Sites Manager for the city of Ventura said, “Parks and recreation oversees Olivas Adobe and normally at this time of year Olivas Adobe is full of concerts and rentals and we don’t have the time to do a lot of maintenance.” She also added, “We decided in this time we would take care of some things that we wanted to take care of. Our Ramadas (small wooden carts) that are in the courtyard get moved around during an event and we decided to replace the top of them.”
“The tops are replaced with branches found in the river bottom which are difficult to find.” Said Frank Shugart a volunteer on the project.
“We decided to do this while the site was shut down this was just a good time to do it.” Said Gina Reyes Historic Site Coordinator for the city. “We have been working on this for three weeks and hope to finish by the end of the week,” said Gina Reyes. Gina oversees all the historic sites which includes the museum and runs all cultural tours and excursion programs.
“This time of year, we have a stage up every weekend making it difficult to accomplish any of the normal maintenance needed,” said Frank Shugart a volunteer for the project.
Mary Thompson, Vice President of Olivas Adobe Docents and historical interpreter is also a member of the Board of Directors. Mary in addition to her many duties at Olivas Adobe is also on staff at the Ventura Breeze and has been for many years. Mary is also responsible for decorating the outside of the venue for the Christmas Holidays. “I also plan events and field trips,” Thompson said. “I have been volunteering here for the past eleven years,” she added. Mary goes back a long way on her journey to becoming a docent and general volunteer “I first came here on a school field trip when I was in the fourth grade,” “My sister was also married here in 1977,” she said.
Hopefully we can all look forward to a time when the Corona Virus is better controlled and Olivas Adobe will once again be open to the public.