CASA PRIMERA

RANCHO SAN JOSÉ

 

Formerly part of the San Gabriel Mission, its holdings were divided and distributed to the Californio's in a period called 'secularization'. In 1837, Ricardo Vejar and Ygnacio Palomares were granted approximately 15,000acres by the Mexican governor, Juan Alvarado, in what is now the Pomona Valley. They called it Rancho San José. Ricardo Vejar, who later became the fourth richest man in the county, settled in the southern section of the Ranch, and Ygnacio Palomares settled in the northern section. They were soon joined by the Palomares' brother-in-law, Luis Arenas, and granted another 5,000 acres each.

It was a busy ranch where workers - often drawn from the local community of Tongva - raised cattle, herded sheep, and grew crops. The cattle business boomed as migrants seeking gold up North increased the demand for meat and tallow. Due to a series of floods, locusts, drought, and smallpox, the rancho suffered tremendously. By the 1870s, Ricardo Vejar's ranch holdings would be held by new migrants.

 

LA CASA PRIMERA

 

Ygnacio Palomares settled in the present site, in the area locally called San Jose de Arriba. He built his house, the first dwelling of its type in the Valley, out of adobe bricks and stucco. Adobe was often used regionally because it provides natural climate control and because it is composed of locally available materials, such as clay, sand, and cow dung. The home has interior chimneys and a wide front porch. Since finished lumber was not available at the time, the thatched roof was constructed out of raw logs with a cloth draped under it to catch dirt and dust. The floor was originally made out of patched mud.

The house had two rooms when it was first constructed. Like many adobes built in this period, the first room was used for multiple purposes, such as conducting the business and entertaining guests. The southern room was likely the only bedroom used by the family of seven. The northern room was later added as a master bedroom. Inside the bedroom, you will find one of the oldest images in the house today: a textile of the Virgin Mary.