At the corner of Main Street and 7th Street, separated by black wrought iron gates, lies a beautiful red brick mansion surrounded by coiffed and unlittered grounds. Jeff and I have walked by many times on our daily walks through the neighborhoods of San Jacinto. One day we take Main Street to Dillon and discover the place is the Estudillo Mansion and that it is open every Saturday from 11 to 4.
So, one Saturday we walk over and check the place out.
In 1842 Jose A. Estudillo acquired all of the land (35,000 acres) in the San Jacinto Valley when he was deeded a Mexican Land Grant. In the 1860s his sons, Francisco and Antonio came to the valley to begin cattle ranching.
Francisco constructed the two-story mansion on 6 acres of land between 1884 and 1885. He became San Jacinto’s first postmaster and was also appointed Mission Indian Agent by the Federal Government. As Mission Indian Agent, Francisco was responsible for 32 Reservations in southern and central California. He was an elected school board member and the second mayor of San Jacinto, serving from 1890 to 1892. (ci.san-jacinto.ca.us)
After passing through many owners, the mansion was purchased by Riverside County in 1992. Six years later the County turned ownership over to the city of San Jacinto. (ci.san-jacinto.ca.us)
Meanwhile, in 1939 the San Jacinto Women’s Club and the Chamber of Commerce decided to display early California and Indian artifacts during the Ramona Outdoor Play. Response was so positive that citizens petitioned for a permanent museum in 1940.
In 1978 a group of residents formed the San Jacinto Valley Museum Association and this non-profit organization continues its support today. In 2005 the Museum Association was able to use its funds to purchase its present building on the grounds of San Jacinto’s Francisco Estudillo Heritage Park. (Historic San Jacinto City Museum brochure)
The house has been restored inside to reflect the style of the late 1880s. No pictures of the interior are allowed to be taken so I capture the grounds and garden.
We learn that a tree trimmer has to shimmy up the trunk of this Washington Palm to prune the fronds.
The highlights of this visit, however, are the docents. These women fought “city hall” to prevent the demolition of the Estudillo Mansion and preserve it to the Historical Registry.