The Reid-Baldwin Adobe Restoration
We are now able to accomplish additional enhancements to the restoration. With great thanks to all the Arboretum members who attended the Moonlight Forest Lantern Festival in 2018 and 2019, proceeds from the event are making possible additional improvements to the Adobe. Funded additions include hardware for windows and doors, and restoration of the brick apron around the Adobe veranda as well as the veranda stairs. Completion of the Adobe is now scheduled for early 2022. A partial reconstruction of the landscape surrounding the Adobe, also made possible by Moonlight Forest funds, will occur later in the year.
We look forward to celebrating our new Adobe with you in 2022! Please enjoy the following overview of the restoration project prepared by the Arboretum’s Historical Curator Mitchell Bishop.
By Mitchell Hearns Bishop
In 2012 the Arboretum began an emergency stabilization of its oldest historic structure then known as the Hugo Reid Adobe. At that time the earthen building beside Baldwin Lake was fenced off, soil around it graded for drainage, and a scaffolding and shelter erected for additional protection. Today construction is underway to restore the landmark structure to its storied past.
When the restoration is completed, the Adobe will look as it did in 1900 rather than 1840, when Scottish immigrant Hugo Reid acquired title to Rancho Santa Anita and constructed the dwelling. Whether the Reid family actually lived in the Adobe is doubtful. Their permanent residence may have been a two-story house in the vicinity of the San Gabriel Mission, while some records suggest a location near today’s Lacy Park in San Marino.
Ownership of Rancho Santa Anita changed a few times before Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin took up residence at the Adobe in 1875 after he purchased the property. By the beginning of the 20th century, Baldwin lived in an eight-room structure with broad verandas on three sides, a clapboard wing, and distinctive plantings. To reflect Baldwin’s residency at the Adobe, the State Office of Historic Preservation approved the Arboretum’s request to officially recognize the structure as the Reid-Baldwin Adobe.
The restoration was funded in 2016 by a $1.7 million grant from the office of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. The project team included the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation, preservation architect Kelly Sutherlin McLeod, and the Arboretum Foundation and staff.
To reflect the Adobe’s Territorial style of architecture with characteristic windows, doors and peaked roofs, a new pitched roof will replace the existing flat one. Thus it is important to understand the capability of the existing walls to carry the load of the new roof. Verandas, 11 feet wide, will wrap around all but the Lake side of the Adobe. The verandas, like those at the nearby Queen Anne Cottage, provided a pleasant place to relax and shelter from the sun on a warm day or to enjoy being outdoors in mild winter weather.
A plan for the gardens around the Adobe is yet to be established but will be based on historic photographs of the landscape of that era. Similarly, plans for the interior have not been established at this time. The Adobe will be accessible for the disabled under the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
When completed, the newly restored Reid-Baldwin Adobe will provide a new window into important chapters of California history from the early rancho era to Baldwin’s years in the San Gabriel Valley.
“The restoration of the Adobe is a milestone in historical preservation and education at the Arboretum,” said Richard Schulhof, Arboretum CEO.
Mitchell Hearns Bishop is Curator of Historical Collections at the Arboretum.