Osuna Adobe restoration on schedule


By Karen Billing

Progress is being made on the efforts to restore the Osuna Adobe. In the last week, white stucco has been peeled away from the structure, exposing adobe bricks placed in its original 1880s construction and, in some places along the brown, textured wall, you can even see the straw that was used.

“There’s 180 years worth of history right there,” remarked Kirk Dakan, Rancho Santa Fe Association senior planner on a recent tour of the home.

Crews started the work on July 9 and have already made quick progress, removing stucco from the home. They were coating the north wall on Monday. The entire project is expected to be complete in about three weeks. The building is also now free of clutter on the south side as all of the electrical wiring snaking up the south side of the building has been removed and placed on a kiosk across the lot.

The Association’s Osuna Committee will be taking a look at the progress on July 18.

The stucco that had been on the adobe, a concrete with chicken wire, had been applied in the 1920s. Dakan said stucco isn’t good for covering adobe because water gets in between the stucco and the adobe, trapping moisture that destroys the adobe. In parts of a wall where the stucco was removed, plant roots could be seen growing five feet off the ground, evidence of water being trapped inside the wall.

Taking off the stucco has exposed some structural problems that will need to be addressed, Dakan said. Some of the wood in the framing is in poor condition and braces were applied to reinforce the structure. Other large cracks have also been spotted in the west wall (the front of the home) and the south wall.

Crews have started placing a clay and straw mixture over the adobe to protect it, becoming a permanent coating. The clay and straw-coated portions are covered by a tarp until it dries, although the plan for the adobe details that the entire structure be whitewashed.

“The current plan is to whitewash but public comment has been in favor of just leaving it natural,” Dakan said.

The Osuna Committee will likely make the final recommendation on the finish.