History & preservation


Preserving the Olivas Adobe: Preserving a Link to the Past

The Olivas Adobe is an important part of our cultural heritage and always in need of preservation and repair.

There are several ways you can help preserve and protect this treasured historic landmark for future generations to enjoy:

A Brief History of the Olivas Family and Rancho San Miguel

1. Born in 1809 in Los Angeles, Raymundo Olivas (no photo exists) was the seventh child of a poor family. He joined the Mexican Army in California at the age of 16 and was assigned to the Presidio (fort) of Santa Barbara as a Lancer (cavalryman).

2.Raymundo met his future wife, Teodora Lopez (pictured at left at age 80) in Santa Barbara. They were married on November 6, 1832, and together they had 21 children - eight girls and 13 boys. Nicholas Olivas Raymundo's oldest son (pictured at right).

3.In return for their service to the State, Raymundo and his friend, Felipe Lorenzana, were granted 4,670 acres by Mexican Governor Juan B. Alvarado. Raymundo began ranching his land in 1847. Jose de los Santos Olivas, one of Raymundo's sons (pictured below).

4.The main house for the Rancho San Miguel was one of the few two-story haciendas in Southern California and one of the most impressive homes in the Santa Clara River Valley.    

5.In 1848, gold was discovered in the American River and California changed forever. People came from all over the world to mine for gold. Knowing that the miners needed food, Raymundo's cattle herd became his gold mine.

6.These were the golden days of the don - with his new income, Raymundo finished the second story of his home and became known for his elaborate parties. For many years the Rancho prospered.

7.Droughts came in the 1860s destroying the cattle empires. Don Raymundo survived by raising sheep. In 1864, his partner Felipe Lorenzana sold his half of the Rancho. Rebecca Olivas, youngest daughter of Don Raymundo was the last member of the familyto live at the adobe (she is pictured at left).

8.The death of Don Raymundo in 1879 was the beginning of the end for the Olivas' fortune. Though some family members retained pieces of the land grant until as late as 1968, the house was sold in 1899.

9.After passing through many hands, the adobe was purchased by yeast king Max Fleischmann (pictured at right) who restored the building in 1927. Upon Fleischmann's death, the adobe was given to the City of Ventura and it opened as a museum in July 1972.

[under construction] View Olivas Family Photo Gallery

Sheriff Bill Suyter, Francesca Olivas (his mother), Estella de la Riva, Josefa Olivas (Nicholas's wife)


Birds of Olivas Adobe Historical Park

Pictures taken at the Park by visitors [image gallery  to follow soon]
Hummingbird Photo Credit: Dave Furseth
Ducks Photo Credit: Guy Webb
Vermilion Flycatcher-Male Photo Credit: Jim Greaves
Vermilion Flycatcher-Female Photo Credit: Jim Greaves
Hawk Photo Credit: Guy Webb
Lesser Goldfinch Photo Credit: Dave Furseth
Heron Photo Credit: Guy Webb
Vermilion Flycatcher Photo Credit: Jim Greaves
Great Horned Owl Photo Credit: Dave Furseth
White Crowned Sparrow Photo Credit: Dave Furseth
See more of Dave Furseth’s bird pictures at http://www.davesbirds.com










Artist Beatrice Benzien (1920-2008) The Last Person To Call the Olivas Adobe "Home"

Beatrice Benzien came to live in the Olivas Adobe at age eight in 1928. Her parents, Del and Iva Reeder, were caretakers for the property. At that time, the Adobe was a private residence owned by Max Fleischmann. Living in a remote location, Bea had few playmates and took up pen and ink drawing to amuse herself. Ultimately, she grew up, married and raised a family. Later in life, she once again turned to art for comfort and amusement, this time choosing oil and canvas. Mrs. Benzien, who passed away in May, 2008, was the last living individual to call the Olivas Adobe "home." More on Beatrice Benzien. We present examples of her art here for your enjoyment:

Self Portrait 1991
Arline & Kim
Lisa 1996
Sunflowers in a Vase 1990
Grapes, Apples and Bell Peppers 1992
Sketch 2
Betty 2003
Self Portrait
Stan 1996
Banana Blossom 1996
Poppies 2