House museums represent an intimate way for the community to curate local history. Never have I seen so much enthusiasm in gathering local artifacts. Almost every city in Riverside has a mansion, a Rail Road Museum, and a number of collectors, ready to be heard and to preserve their ancestors past.
I came in contact with the Estudillo Mansion on Dillon Street in November of 2013. The fabulous Italianate Mansion mesmerized me. The mansion was clearly an open book to learn about the California of the late 1800’s, along with Victorian Architecture, family traditions, and the decline of the Mexican landowners of the state.
I did not visit the interior until the end of September of 2014. But by the time I crossed the threshold I felt I had read every piece available describing its interiors. Amidst the most valuable elements found inside are the friezes, maintained as they were when the house was built, luckily; the wooden floors, doors and window frames; the marble fireplace; and a picture of Francisco “Pancho” Estudillo. Charles Van Fleet was one photographer who came in contact with that generation of Estudillos, the third one in California. In the line of Francisco, his grandfather was José María Estudillo, and his father was Jose Antonio Estudillo. Brother and closest neighbor at the time, Jose Antonio, nicknamed "El Topo", was the owner of an almost identical mansion, long abandoned, and finally demolished on September of 2014, per request of the Luiseño Band to the city, of March of 2014.
The year Francisco’s house was built varies significantly according to sources. The house represents an era of serialized building, based on pattern books and the trends of status and modern dwellings. Bacon and Ashenfelter were the architects of the three most renowned houses in the valley, to include the Dillon Mansion, the Soboba Mansion and the Patterson House (currently a house museum in the community of Winchester), and all within a stretch of no more than 20 miles.
To read La mansión de Estudillo: El equilibrio entre lo pasado y lo nuevo, published 12/21/2013, click here.
I started working the Western End of Riverside County in 2013. A fascinating local history can only be paired with a burgeoning urban center showing the fastest growth in the entire US since 2012.