What was the Olivas Adobe like long ago?
by Richard Senate
The main house and small adobe still exists, as does the wall but little more still stands. Letters and news stories give some hints as do census reports of what it was like. It was clearly a complex of structures, as were most ranches and farms of the era. Being prosperous it may well have had the look of a small town or village. Outside of the few references made, we can only speculate on the look of the Olivas Rancho. But as a fun project I set to work attempt to reconstruct what it might have been like in say 1865.
The known sites:
There was a large, impressive barn. This was mentioned in several sources. Some say it rivaled the size of the house. One account said it was part adobe and part wood. (such a barn stands at the Reyes Adobe in Agoura Hills). One “psychic” account said it had a wooden lantern on top where a powerful lantern was placed on foggy nights. Such a folly would have been impressive and might appeal to man wishing to impress visitors—like Don Raymundo Olivas. Such barns are susceptible to termites and it didn’t survive.
There was another House. This was mentioned in the US Census report beyond the small adobe and main house but its location was not listed. It must have been close.
There was a small adobe by the Santa Clara River where Candelaria the cook lived. This was in the Bookman letters and Oral Histories. It must not have been far as the Olivas Children would go down and visit her. She made them huge flour tortillas that impressed them. But where was this house located? I believe it was not far from the well, just south of the house.
The Olivas Dance Hall and Saloon. A painting exists of this structure and the painting seems to indicate a bank behind it so it may have been closer to the Santa Clara River. It was perhaps swept away in a storm. Its location is unknown but, to an enterprising man like Don Raymundo such a place might make good business sense. It would be a place to sell his home made “Tinto” wine and apricot Brandy. This seems to indicate a new side to Raymundo. It may have been close to Main Street, then El Camino Real to attract thirsty travelers–and far from the house.
Another speculated site that may or may not have exited:
The Olivas Carriage House. Psychic Archaeology is an inexact and disputed science at best and a pseudo science at worst. But findings from such a team “found” a carriage house foundations in the Memorial Grove, near the road. They said it was a two story adobe and wood structure that held two fancy carriages and place for the driver and his family as well as a fancy team of matched gray horses. The driver was a tall, half Chumash, half Irish man, who stood six feet tall and his wife who came it at five feet. Possible? Yes. They would want a tall impressive coachman to drive them to church on Sunday.