Riverside, home of the Mission Hotel, California's earliest history and... Granite, yes, granite says a lot, already!
Winchester, formerly Pleasant Valley.
The air clears up, the atmosphere changes. You are in San Jacinto, home to some of the last dairy farms in Southern California, but most importantly, one of the oldest settlements in the area/county of Riverside (formerly San Diego).
Now you can explore the few old structures remaining and what is left of that ongoing squabble between Old Town Folks and New Town Folks.
But this article will center on three structures located close to each other geographically, and almost identical in their looks. (And surely there must be more.) The three houses were ordered in the Italianate style of the Victorian. The Queen Anne style soon upstaged the Italianite, preferred at first by those building cottages in rural areas. Two of the three houses pictured belonged to the brothers José Antonio and José Francisco Estudillo. Separated by the river and roughly three miles apart from one another, they show identical traits, two floors and a top open tower (some locals referred to as Widow Maker), a covered porch and a large balcony. The said Widow Maker was truly used in emergencies; its access was hidden inside an enclosed chamber/closet, located in the master bedroom.
The style did not flourish beyond the 1900’s and the Estudillos lost their homes to foreclosure before the end of the first luster of the 20th Century. José Antonio´s mansion was less fortunate as it survived in total disrepair until October of 2014, the date of its demolition. Francisco’s made it to State and National Registers of Historic Properties. It is today a House Museum, centrally located on Estudillo Heritage Park.
It would only make sense to imagine that the third identical structure was also in the Estudillo family, but though that logical conclusion misled me for a while, I visited the more rustic Community House Museum of Winchester, where the Historic Society of Winchester keeps it for viewing by appointment only. This third structure originally belonged to the Patterson Family, hence its name. John and Maria Patterson built their house around 1891 (5 to 6 years after its look-alikes) upon moving from Los Angeles to what was then Pleasant Valley (now Winchester.)
Once I visited the homes, I was dying to research the lives of El Topo (José Antonio Estudillo) and his brother, José Francisco, and to immerse myself in the day of their wives, Adelaide and Carmelita Rubidoux; and later the mysterious stories of the Patterson children, Tilla, Ida, Clarence, Jessie and Lloyd. Yet I took nearly two years to research only the buildings and its meaningful presence in the history of today’s San Jacinto Valley. So here are the houses for you, and for now!
I was lucky enough to hold two photos of the Soboba Mansion (belonging to José Antonio Estudillo and wife Adelaide Rubidoux) from a better day (at the San Jacinto Museum’s Collection). The photographers were Charles Van Fleet and Junis and Pearson.
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.