The Soboba Mansion was never restored since it became vacant in 1901. Its original owner, Antonio Estudillo, had it built in the Italian style, popular of his times. Its construction year varies from source to source, but most agree it was built in 1885, within a year from its twin structure still standing in San Jacinto. A third identical structure can be found in Winchester, attesting to the beginning of an era of commercial building.
This Italian Style Victorian Structure, known as the Soboba Mansion, managed to stay up for over a century. José Antonio Estudillo, nicknamed El Topo, and the son of José Antonio Estudillo, the Spanish Captain in charge of San Luis Rey Mission, was the original owner.
An almost identical building, owned by J. Antonio’s brother, Francisco, stands today as the center piece of San Jacinto, and one of a few listings contributed by Riverside to the National Register of Historic Places.
The pictures here are from the spring of 2014. The Soboba Mansion was not in the Soboba reservation, but on land purchased by the Soboba Nation in the late 1990's.
Why wasn’t this house saved? This and other questions guided this article. For years people looked at the house as a haunted place; but the only haunting element surrounding the history of this mansion is the disregard for the history shaping California’s present.
Not much has been written on the original owner of the Soboba Mansion. Instead, a number of imprecise references may be found in the few sources available.
A photograph of the house and the vague reference of El Topo serves as evidence that there was a photographer, as fascinated by the house in its glamorous beginnings as I was when I traced the path to what remained before the demolition.
The photograph mentioned was taken by Charles Van Fleet, and owned by the Museum of San Jacinto. The words El Topo, the nickname attributed to Antonio Estudillo, are written on it.
To read the published text go to Demolida la mansión Soboba.
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.