|Museum Buildings and Grounds
The Rancho Camulos Museum is a 40 acre National Historic Landmark, situated within an
1800 acre working ranch known as the Camulos Ranch Company. The 1800 acre ranch is
bounded by low hills on the north, Piru Creek to the west, the Santa Clara River and the
Oak Ridge Mountains to the south and the Newhall Ranch on the east. The museum
comprises 15 structures, the most significant of these are (in chronological order):
The Main Adobe, c. 1853-1880
The Ygnacio del Valle adobe was built in several phases, beginning in 1853 and reaching
essentially its present plan by 1880. The first four rooms along the south veranda were
built in 1853 (rooms 1-4 on floor plan). Between 1851 and 1862, three rooms were added
adjacent to the original four rooms (rooms 5-7 on floor plan). Steps on the south veranda
lead up to an elevated porch. A wine cellar was added beneath this portion of the adobe
and accessed through double cellar doors below the porch. The porch is presently
enclosed with screens that were added in the 1930s.
A freestanding cocina (kitchen building) was constructed at the northeastern corner of
what was to become the placita (patio) area. During the 1870s, a west wing was added to
the 1861-1862 additions of the building (rooms 8-10). An external corridor runs along this
section of the adobe, providing garden access to each room and forming an L-shaped plan.
By 1880 three final rooms were added (rooms 11-13). Sometime around 1915 a wooden
breezeway was constructed to connect the northeastern end of the adobe (room 13) to the
cocina, thus creating the present U-shaped plan.
Alterations made by the Rübel family include: removal of the interior wall between rooms 7
and 8 to create an expanded living room; the addition a large picture window; remodeling
the original cocina into a garage and living quarters; screening in the corredor and
elevated porch; and adding the brick pathways that surround the house today.
The Fountain, c. 1853
The fountain is constructed of bricks and at one time was clad with lime-plaster stucco.
The precise date of the fountain is unknown, but it is depicted in plan upon a signed
drawing dated 1853 in the del Valle family papers. The central element was originally made
up of two tiered, shallow basins on a narrow central stem. The Rübel family modified this
element circa 1934 by broadening the appearance of both basins and the central stem.
The Chapel, c. 1867
The chapel, consecrated as a Roman Catholic place of worship, was constructed circa
1867. It is a wood frame structure measuring fourteen feet in width by twenty feet in length,
with a thirty-foot long porch extending from the entrance. The porch forms an "open
chapel" when the large double entrance doors are opened, which enabled a larger
congregation to participate in the sacrament of mass.
The Bell Structure
Directly adjacent to the northwest of the chapel is the Bell Structure. Three bells hanging
from a wooden freestanding frame have been a feature of Camulos since at least the
1870s. The largest of the three bells was cast by Russians in Kodiak, Alaska, was used to
call worshipers to morning prayers or mass in the chapel. A second, smaller bell was also
cast in Kodiak in 1796. This bell originally hung at the San Fernando Mission and may have
been removed to Camulos by Antonio del Valle when he was administrator of the mission. A
third, smaller bell was removed by a del Valle daughter and taken to her private chapel.
The Winery, c. 1867
The one and one-half story brick winery was built in 1867. The gabled roof is wood
shingled and the building has two large openings at the north and south ends. The
foundation is constructed of river rocks and lime masonry. A wood frame shed used to
store farm equipment was added to the west side of the building at an unknown date, prior
to 1924. Before the winery's construction, wines were aged in casks in the cool wine cellar
beneath the adobe.
Camulos was known for its fine brandies and wines primarily between the 1870s and early
1900s. When grapes were no longer grown for commercial purposes, the winery building
was converted to use as storage. In later years, August Rübel converted the second floor
of the winery to a museum housing deI Valle family artifacts.
The Barn, Gas Station and Bunkhouse, c. 1910-1915
The exact date of the barn is unknown, but the style and detailing, (brackets, rafters and
trim) suggests a circa 1910 date. Crop planting records indicate that the 1909 to 1916
period is when the largest number of walnuts, apricots and orange trees were planted.
These dates might coincide with the construction of the barn, gas and oil house and
bunkhouse. The gas and oil house was probably built about the same time as the barn,
circa 1910. The bunkhouse was built circa 1916 and is a Craftsman style bungalow with a
wood-shingled exterior. The bunkrooms are now storage spaces and the workers' dining
area now serves as the office of the Camulos Ranch Company.
The Small Adobe, c. 1920
The Nachito del Valle adobe was built by the youngest son of Ygnacio and Ysabel del Valle
in 1920. It is a Spanish colonial revival-style house designed around a central courtyard
and constructed of adobe clad with stucco. Badly damaged in the 1994 earthquake, grant
funds for the seismic engineering and restoration will convert the building into the Rancho
Camulos Visitor Center, which will feature interpretive displays, a library, museum offices,
public restrooms and a gift shop. Construction is scheduled to begin in July of 2006.
The Schoolhouse, c. 1930
The Schoolhouse was built circa 1930 by August Rübel to serve the family's five young
children and those of the bookkeeper. (who at one time resided in the small adobe). It is a
wood frame structure clad with stucco designed to blend in with the early adobe buildings.
In addition to the buildings and objects, a large number of mature trees and extensive
gardens contribute to the historic character of the property. These landscape features
help divide the working portion of the ranch from the residential sections. Surrounding the
Ygnacio del Valle Adobe, schoolhouse, chapel and fountain, are well-manicured lawns,
concrete and brick paths, flower gardens, and dozens of mature ornamental trees. At the
southern end of the formal lawn is the family orchard where dozens of varieties of fruit
trees are grown.
Additional features include an aviary, a partial reconstruction of the once 150 foot long
grape arbor (covered in mission grapes), an herb garden, fishpond, and a barbecue area
with brick oven. Compacted earth, mature California pepper trees and cork oak trees
characterize the working area of the ranch headquarters north of the del Valle adobe. At
the entrance to the ranch is a row of Eucalyptus trees, a long arbor with mature wisteria
vines and a stone historical marker bearing a bronze plaque denoting the State Landmark
status of Rancho Camulos.
Directly across from the ranch, north of Highway 126 and the railroad right-of-way, are two
railroad-related residences and three farm labor cottages.
California Black Walnut Tree
Of special interest is the California Black Walnut Tree, "El Rey Nogal," the only survivor of
four "Black Eagle" seedlings planted by Juventino del Valle sometime during the 1860s.
The tree has been noted by Maunsell Van Rensselaer in his publication Trees of Santa
Barbara as the "Camulos Black Walnut." The author noted that it might be largest
California Black Walnut in the region. When it was measured for this book in 1940, its
circumference was eighteen feet with a branch spread of 129 feet. Today, the trunk
measures approximately twenty-five feet in circumference with a branch span of
approximately half an acre.
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|Rancho Camulos Museum
Home of Ramona
|The Main Adobe
|Newly Restored Fountain
|The Red Barn
|The School Yard
|El Rey Nogal
|The Grape Arbor
|The Bird Aviary