RANCHO SANTA FE — It’s official. The Osuna adobe has been named a local historical landmark, covenant administrator Ivan Holler told the Rancho Santa Fe Association board of directors at the June 4 meeting.
Shortly after the Association purchased the 28-acre Osuna site in 2006 for $12 million, it applied for the county designation to preserve and restore the adobe, which was built in the early 1830s.
It was restored and expanded in 1924 by famed local architect Lilian Rice, who, in addition to preserving the original structure, manufactured and used new adobe blocks to replace missing or damaged wall sections, replaced the shingled roof with barrel tiles, added shutters and an interior fireplace and enclosed an open-air kitchen.
“This adobe is unusual and unique because it exists in the same context as when it was built,” Holler said. “Urbanization has encroached on other adobes of similar age, and they lose their historical context.” Located on Via de Santa Fe, the property is home to an equestrian facility.
Several benefits come with obtaining the designation. Restoration efforts are guided by the state historical building code, which, among other things, allows some latitude with seismic retrofit issues, Holler said. “We can also use historically accurate roof materials, although they still have to be fire resistive,” he said.
Holler said the association also applied for the designation “to recognize there’s a ton of history associated with that adobe.”
The building was once owned by Juan Maria Osuna, the first alcalde, or mayor, of San Diego. It is also believed the Californios — people of mixed Spanish, Mexican and native ancestry who ruled California during the Mexican period — used it for shelter after the Battle of San Pasqual, their only decisive victory against American forces.
The adobe will remain closed to the public, but association members can view it by appointment. Heller said this is primarily because of potentially liability issues associated with the equestrian facility.
Director Stephen Shillington told his colleagues they should be skeptical rather than enthusiastic about additional money that could possibly come with the designation. “With funds come limits,” he said. “We don’t want lines of school buses backing up our roads.”
Holler said the association didn’t seek state or federal designation because of potential limits and requirements.
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