Located along Linda Mar Boulevard in the coastal town of Pacifica, Sanchez Adobe is one of two historical landmarks in the San Mateo County Parks system; the other being Woodside Store. Sanchez Adobe is the second oldest building in San Mateo County, but the oldest that is open to the public. A county park since 1947, Sanchez Adobe and its field trip programs are run by the San Mateo County Historical Association. Visitors and history buffs get a glimpse into what life was like on a Californio rancho nearly 200 years ago. One reason why Sanchez Adobe is so unusual and so special is that the first three periods of California history are well represented on site.
The park site is five and half acres and includes archaeological evidence of those three periods of California history as well as a section of San Pedro Creek. The Ohlone village of Pruristac was located at this site. In the 18th century it became a Spanish asistencia, or outpost, to Mission Dolores. The Sanchez Adobe itself dates from the Mexican Rancho Period, when Francisco Sanchez received a land grant in 1839. He proceeded to complete his adobe house in 1846.
The hands-on history program for school children includes participating in the daily chores of a Californio rancho by grinding corn and roping a ‘cow’, making candles, and climbing into a mud pit to make adobe bricks like those used to build the Sanchez Adobe.
Sanchez Adobe is one mile off the Pacific coast and boasts beautiful views of the hills beyond. The majority of the site consists of an open field that extends to San Pedro Creek which runs through the southwestern edge of the park. San Pedro Creek is a perennial which originates on Montara Mountain and Sweeney Ridge. The creek supports a steelhead population and various other riparian species.
While the historic features of the landscape have sustained a loss of integrity, efforts are underway to plant trees and shrubs native to California.
Sanchez Adobe has a history worth knowing. It is listed as a California Historical Landmark and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
The three significant periods of California history start with the Ohlone period. The Aramai village of Pruristac was located at this site. Archaeological evidence indicates the existence of a shell midden, which is where they would dump their food waste and other garbage. The Aramai tribe was part of the Ramaytush which is one of the linguistic subdivisions of the Ohlone Native Americans of Northern California. The Ohlone have a deep relationship with the natural world.
A pivotal moment in Western history came in 1769 when Gaspar de Portolá led a Spanish expedition up the California coast to present-day Pacifica. The Ohlone met and fed the explorers, who at this point in their journey were quite sick and lost. Regaining health, Portolá and some of his men hiked to Sweeney Ridge where they first laid eyes on San Francisco Bay. This was a huge development for the Spanish. It was also the beginning of the end of traditional Ohlone culture.
Spanish missionaries soon arrived in California and set up a system of missions, outposts, and presidios along the coast. Mission Dolores (formerly Mission San Francisco de Asis) established a mission outpost, or asistencia at the village site of Pruristac around 1786. It was a support farm, growing food for the mission, such as corn, peas and asparagus. Archaeological remains of the mission outpost buildings have been identified at the northeastern corner of the site.
Sadly, the Ohlone population serving the outpost declined and the land was then used for raising cattle. The mission system was secularized by the Mexican government in 1834 and land was granted to Mexican settlers, known as Californios. Thus began the third major period of California history. Don Francisco Sanchez was granted Rancho San Pedro (what is present day Pacifica) in 1839. He began building his two-story, six-bedroom adobe in 1842. He lived there with his wife Teodora and their ten children until his death in 1862.
A notable figure in California history, Francisco Sanchez served as alcalde (mayor) of Yerba Buena, later San Francisco, and commandant of the Presidio. In January 1847, Sanchez led the Californios against American Marines at the Battle of Santa Clara.
While California was claimed by the United States in 1848, Sanchez and his wife continued to own the land until 1871. In 1878, General Edward Kirkpatrick purchased the land for $17,500 and renovated the adobe to accommodate his family.
In the early 1900s, the adobe became “Hotel San Pedro,” a leisure hotel advertised in a San Francisco paper as a beautiful place for fishing, hunting and horseback riding. In the 1920s, when prohibition began, it became a notorious speakeasy. And later, in the 1940’s, it morphed into an artichoke equipment storage building.
It was in 1947 that the site was sold to the County of San Mateo to be turned into a historic park. Today, you can visit Sanchez Adobe, and slip back in time to 1850.