Costa Mesa Timeline
Diego Sepulveda Adobe
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1900 Adams Avenue, (North on Mesa Verde Dr. West, then west on Boa Vista
Dr.) Open 1st & 3rd Saturday of the month, 12-4
Adobe encompasses nearly 200 years of Costa Mesa history in beautiful
Estancia Park, overlooking the Santa Ana River bed.
A colorful segment of Southern California history is preserved by
this small adobe and its surrounding site. The story of the Diego Sepulveda
Adobe (the Estancia) dates back to an uncertain past. Only recently, in
1962, the skeleton of a mastodon was uncovered here. And the surrounding
tableland has been recognized as a rich field for archaeological
Long before the first Spaniards came to California, native
American Indians had settled on this mesa. Artifacts found here indicate
that this site was a part of the village they knew as Lukup.
Important artifacts from this Indian period are exhibited in the Estancia.
Six Spanish leagues southeast lies Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded
in 1776. Fr. Zephyrin Englehardt, in his Missions of San Juan Capistrano,
describes the Estancia as a station of the Mission situated on the banks of
the Santa Ana River.
At first the site was an Indian settlement, visited occasionally by the
Padres. In the early 1800s, when the Capistrano cattle (made famous by
Richard Henry Dana in his Two Years Before the Mast) grazed in what
is now Costa Mesa, provision had to be made to shelter the herdsmen.
Possibly as early as 1817, but more likely between 1820 and 1823, a small
adobe was built to house the majordomo and his men. The large "mission"
bricks of this first structure were found in the east and south walls.
As the Mission Period passed, the old Spanish land grants were
partitioned and the Estancia became the property of Don Diego Sepulveda, a
former alcalde of the Pueblo de Los Angeles. The adobe assumed its present
shape during the Sepulveda tenancy. The additions he made are indicated in
the walls by the change to smaller, ranch type adobe bricks.
There were neighbors then - the Eduardo Pollereno adobe to the south
and another adobe to the north - each in a prime location on the mesa with
its own well of fresh water. As late as 1868 these were the only homes in
the area. The Estancia appears as the "House of Diego Sepulveda" on a map
of that year that now hangs in the east room.
Then came a period of transition - the passing of the era of the Dons -
and the Estancia became a part of a larger, rambling ranch house. From the
outside, the adobe walls were all but hidden except for the east wall, and
even that was plastered over. A frame structure was built to the west and
the entire combined building was housed under a high peaked roof to which we
owe the preservation of the old adobe walls.
Gabe Allen, a colorful Los Angeles character who had fought in the
Mexican war, next acquired the property. Subsequently his brother, Jesse
Allen, occupied the house for seventeen years. Some of the lumber used in
building the ranch house came from the Civil War Drum Barracks in
Wilmington, California. Unless a passerby looked closely, the fact that a
portion of the building was adobe would not have been noticed. From the
Allens, the Estancia passed to the Adams family, for whom Adams Ave is
named. On a 1939 map the Estancia appears as the "Derby Ranch".
After the first World War, Costa Mesa Post 455, American Legion, held
its first meetings at the Estancia. The original flagpole erected by the
post now stands on the grounds of Harbor Rest Cemetery (now Harbor Lawn -
In 1940 the property was purchased by the Segerstrom family and in 1963
the Estancia and the surrounding 5-acre site was given to the City of Costa
Mesa by members of the Segerstrom family as a memorial to the early settlers
of the area.
The frame structure concealing the Adobe was removed and the adobe
Estancia restored. A special committee of the Costa Mesa Chamber of
Commerce assumed the task of establishing a museum inside the building. In
1966, the special committee became the nucleus of the Costa Mesa Historical
Society. Today the Estancia represents an important element in preserving
the history of Southern California.
The Interior of the
Four distinct periods of California history are represented in the rooms
of the Estancia - Indian, Mission, Spanish and Victorian. The Costa Mesa
Historical Society has used these periods as guidelines for furnishing the
This earliest room is entered through a low doorway from the main
room. The floor of packed earth has been left as it was when the first
bricks were laid. Originally, the roof over this room was made of tiles and
tar, large sections of which were found when the ranchouse superstructure
was removed. The room is restored as a kitchen of the mission/rancho era.
East Room (Main
The largest of the Estancia's rooms has been devoted to the
Spanish-Californian heritage, when the adobe was at its functional peak
under the ownership od Don Diego Sepulveda. This room serves as a reception
area for visitors and also contains several exhibit cases. On the walls are
an 1868 map of the area donated by Title Insurance & Trust Company and the
Chain of Title to the property, donated by North American Title Insurance
Here the Victorian period is captured by furnishing the room as it might
have been during the years it was known as the Allen Adobe. This marks the
final period of the Estancia before it became a little-used portion of the
larger wood framed ranch house described above.
Activities and Events
The Estancia is open to the public on the first and third Saturdays of
each month, between 12 Noon and 4 PM. In addition, the Society hosts an
annual Open House for the community, usually in mid-September. Watch our
page for information on upcoming events at the adobe. The facility can be
scheduled to host your reception, wedding or other private function. Please
contact the Costa Mesa Recreation Department at 714-754-5300 to schedule
your private event.
If you're interested in volunteering to staff the Estancia, please fill