Efforts increased to raise funds, awareness of Rancho Santa Fe historic Osuna adobe

By Karen Billing

The Amigos de Osuna members are ramping up their efforts to raise funds and awareness for Rancho Santa Fe’s Osuna adobe. The adobe is located at 16332 Via de Santa Fe, Rancho Santa Fe, on the Osuna Ranch.

Jerry Yahr, an Amigo and chair of the Rancho Santa Fe Association’s Osuna committee, stopped by the RSF Association board’s Dec. 6 meeting to share an update on what has been happening at the historic site.

“We have been busy over the last several years,” Yahr said, noting that over the summer the adobe received a much-needed facelift—getting electrical wiring removed from one side, new re-plastered exteriors, and new wooden lintels where the old ones had been discovered to be rotten and failing.

The Association paid for the $55,000 adobe resurfacing work and shared the $24,720 cost of the lintel repair work with the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. It is now up to the Amigos de Osuna to come up with the funding to bring the adobe back to its historic roots.

“More funds are needed to start the restoration and furnishing of the adobe,” Yahr said. “We’re looking for more people to join our efforts.”

A big part of finding support for the Osuna is still introducing it to members, who share ownership of the adobe since the 28-acre parcel was purchased by the Association in 2006. Many residents still have not visited the site or understand its significance, Yahr said.

“The response from members is absolutely incredible once they realize what a unique piece of history it is and how they are a part of it,” RSF Association Manager Pete Smith said.

The goal of the Osuna committee is to restore and maintain the adobe and create a vibrant community resource.

“We envisioned the restoration as recognizing the various layers of history important to the Osuna,” Yahr said.

The committee has done a great deal of research to uncover those layers and find out how the adobe progressed since being built in 1831 as a one-room home with a long front porch and thatched roof.

In the late 1800s, known to the committee as the American period, a living room and another room were added.

The adobe fell into disrepair by the beginning of The Railroad period when it was purchased by AH Barlow. Barlow hired Lilian Rice to complete a renovation in 1924 to add a kitchen, bathroom, a fireplace, an enclosed porch and garden walls in the back of the home and a tile roof. The long porch in the front was demolished, adding just a small porch to the front door.

The committee’s planned restoration will take the adobe back to the American period, removing the tile roof and replacing it with wood shingles. They will remove the non-historic kitchen and bathrooms and leave the living room as interpreted by Rice.

They aim to add interpretative gardens and bring back natural vegetation surrounding the structure.

Yahr said the hope is that the adobe will be used for educational purposes (R. Roger Rowe School educators are very interested in the adobe as a complement to early California history studies), social events like the Rancho Days Osuna event and for artistic uses such as plein air painting groups.