Fans of historic, Gold Rush-era architecture and the seminal structure in Lamorinda's ascent to what it is today will be glad to know that on the border of Moraga and Orinda will be saved. The bad news is that only people who buy the 13 $1 million-plus home lots around the structure will be able to see it.
The adobe, sheathed in plywood and under assault by vandals and paint-happy teens, sits on the homestead site Moraga picked for its view of the valley in 1841 -- years before the onset of the Mexican-American war and the arrival of the gold-seeking argonauts in 1849.
Loved by local historians and conservationists who have waged a long battle to secure it for future generations, the adobe was in danger of being knocked down and lost forever. Bronze markers denoting the homesite's place in local history were stolen long ago and undoubtedly went into a clandestine smelter, and partiers have
Under a plan currently on the table and ready for submission to the Orinda Planning Commission Sept. 11, the adobe will be rebuilt for use as a club room for residents of the J & J Ranch Moraga Adobe subdivision. There are no plans to allow public access to the Adobe.
And that, as you might expect, breaks the heart of people like Kent Long, president of Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe.
Long and other like-minded history lovers are mustering to appear and, hopefully they say, to speak at next week's Planning Commission meeting.
"We have had two goals," he wrote. "First to ensure the preservation of the Adobe itself, and second to provide some access by the public. In particular, we have hoped to develop a children’s history program that could be a resource for local school groups."
Long said past discussions with the development owners, which include Lafayette resident Michael Olson -- currently out of town and dealing with a search for his -- had included scenarios calling for transfer of the adobe and a surrounding parcel to a non-profit entity for the purpose of securing it for "community benefit."
The current application, before the planning commission on Tuesday night, offers only the clubhouse scenario -- in which Don Joaquin's Adobe would, if approved, be controlled by the homeowners' association.