Monday, July 16, 2012

Avila Adobe

The Birth Place of L.A.

The Avila Adobe is located in the El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historicial Monument.  It is the oldest existing house in Los Angeles and has a fascinating history.  It was originally built in 1818 as the home to Don Francisco Avila and his family.  He was  a successful cattle rancher who later became mayor of Los Angeles.  He loved to entertain here and one of his more colorful guests was the fur trapper Jedediah Smith.  Smith wrote in his diary, "A few families are rich in cattle and horses and mules and among these, Senor Francisco Abela and his brother, Don Ignatio are perhaps the richest."

In 1847, Commodore Robert Stockton used this adobe as his headquarters while peace was being negotiated to end the Mexican-American War.  After that, the house saw many renters and finally became a boarding house.  In 1926, it was renovated along with the other historic buildings on the plaza.

The house is built around an inner courtyard.  One side consists of the interior rooms refurnished with period antiques.  A docent was on hand to answer questions and give a brief history.  A museum and gift shop are found on the other side.

The early adobes had kitchens outside in the courtyard with ovens like the one above.  It wasn't until the 1840's that kitchens started to be built inside the house.  Even then, most of them were used as storerooms for utensils and food.  The actual cooking was still done outside.  I stepped back in time and imagined a home lit by candles, windows covered with cowhides and the floors made only of dirt.  Innovations like glass windows and wooden floors came about slowly over the decades.

The Avila Adobe was one of the most spacious homes of this era.  The rooms are all quite lovely, especially the master bedroom and the family room.  I always find it interesting how cool and comfortable it is inside these adobes.  It was very hot the day I was here.  What a nice place to duck into! 

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