The Lopez Adobe: A Hidden Gem
April 16, 2019
Located at 1100 Pico Street, Lopez Abode is one of the oldest private residences in the San Fernando Valley. It shares this prestige with one other building in the area, both being the last of the remaining homes built by early settlers to the valley. A short trip away from the Reseda apartments for rent, you can visit this age-old site and learn about its rich history.
Before the Lopez Adobe was built, settlers moved through the area with the help of the San Fernando Mission. This mission stood before, during, and after the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848. During the war, a man by the name of Geronimo Lopez served as a messenger who famously delivered the Articles of Capitulation that ended the violence. That’s where Lopez Adobe’s story begins.
In 1861, Geronimo and his wife Catalina decided to purchase land near the San Fernando Mission. They bought 40 acres along a nearby stagecoach route and built a home made from adobe. They used the building to open up shop as the area’s first general store, servicing those delivering shipments along the stagecoach route.
Their business took off in no time, quickly becoming one of the most prominent buildings in the valley. It was dubbed Lopez Station and, with its success, the Lopez family helped to establish the local post office and the area’s first English-speaking school.
During this successful time, the Lopez family grew larger. Brothers, cousins, and new members joined together on the 40 acres initially purchased by Geronimo and Catalina, which meant they needed more housing. So, Catalina began drawing designs for a two-story adobe home that could accommodate everyone.
By 1883, the project was finished. Catalina would later pass away in 1918, with Geronimo following her shortly in 1921 at the age of 90. The original home, Lopez Station, was taken down during the 1910s in order to build the San Fernando Reservoir. However, the two-story home they had built would live on to become San Fernando’s oldest standing residence; The Lopez Adobe.
The 20th Century
By 1928, Louisa Lopez McAlonan began a series of modifications to the home. The existing balcony staircase was redesigned, and existing rooms were divided to create rentable apartments. Electrical fixtures and plumbing were added. The roof was also replaced with clay tiles instead of shake shingles.
As time went on, generations of Lopez lived within the walls of this home. It stayed in the family until 1971, ten years after the death of Kate Lopez Millen. Kate was the last family member to live in the home.
The City of San Fernando chose to purchase the home from the family in 1971, which cost $70,000. At the same time, Lopez Adobe was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration work began on the home in 1974 to open it as a museum for the public.
While the museum stopped operating due to funding difficulties, the home continued to stand. In 1982, it celebrated its 100th anniversary. Over 100 descendants of Geronimo and Catalina gathered for the event.
Historical Significance and Reopening
San Fernando itself is the oldest town in the valley, and the Lopez Adobe is the last standing artifact of the early years when it was just a mission and some cattle ranches. It’s tough to picture that image with the way things look today, which makes visiting the Lopez home such a unique opportunity.
Despite its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, continuing to secure funding for the Lopez Adobe remains difficult. Restorations must stay up to date in order for the public to visit, which why the city relies heavily on generous donations and volunteers to keep it in shape.
Even with its financial difficulties, the home received a grand reopening in 2015. Decent-led tours are provided to the public on the fourth Sunday of each month from 12 to 4 p.m. If you have the time to spare, visiting this historic site is well worth your time. Nearing 140 years later, its architectural work is still a marvel to behold.
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