A porch with a light on. A place to call home. That is probably what the American dream still is today, to many. And that is what Ken and Jukichi Harada had in mind when they purchased this property on Lemon Street. Little did they know their neighbors to the left would start a legal suit that would cost them years of their lives and that of their American born children. The purchase of the house on Lemon Street was a sad prequel to yet another tragic chapter, the internment of the entire family in concentration camps set after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, in December of 1941.
To read the published text click here: Casa de Riverside representa lucha por los derechos civiles
When Miné Okubo headed to France to complete her studies in Art, on a scholarship, she would have never guessed a few years later she would be at a concentration camp, struggling to draw every moment in order to tell the dreadful story later. I stood in front of this picture several minutes. The looks, the smile, the cockiness, left me in awe. How do you go from the high stand of being the student of Férnand Léger to being humiliated, beyond belief, at a barrack, heavily guarded by armed men and surrounded by barbed wire.
I walked from Market to Orange in a hurry to buy the book Citizen 13660. Miné spoke directly to me, from her powerful paintings, her voice, her narrative illustrations. A life changing experience! I woke up the morning after my first encounter with Okubo´s work stating the word Evacuation. I must have been half asleep as I googled Topaz and Tanforan. I want to spend the next few years reading about the exclusion laws, the relocation centers, civil rights. This article is the report of my visit to the Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties in the City of Riverside. The Center was built to house the works of Miné Okubo, and it has become a resource for those interested in the history of immigration.
To read the published text click on: Riverside en los ojos de sus inmigrantes
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 name 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.
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.