Orinda Council Asked To Help Save Don Joaquin's Adobe

Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe asked the Orinda City Council to help preserve the Gold Rush-era structure -- before it's too late.


A local group hoping to preserve Lamorinda's oldest structure expressed their desire to restore and maintain the Joaquin Moraga Adobe as a museum and learning center -- and gentle reminder of the California Rancho & Land Grant Era.

Supporters -- including one from the neighboring Moraga council -- told the Orinda City Council Tuesday that a museum would be a place to display objects and photographs from the time period, and could become a part of 3rd and 4th grade curriculum in Lamorinda. presented a range of ownership options for the oft-vandalized structure ranging from the city itself, a local non-profit, or operation under a Lamorinda Joint Powers Agreement.

“This is a one time opportunity to save this historic public resource, not just for the citizens of Orinda, but for the whole Lamorinda region, northern California, and actually, nationally,” a Friends spokesman said.  “It’s an important building.”

The Joaquin Moraga Adobe was built in 1841, and was last renovated by Katherine Irvine in 1941. Since then, , and J&J Ranch, LLC. currently has a 13-unit subdivision proposal for the land surrounding and including the Adobe. 

Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe were in talks with the developer in 2010 about the possibility of restoring the Adobe and then transferring it to their custody for educational and public use. However, the group said Tuesday night, these discussions halted and have not been continued.

The proposal for J&J Ranch will be seen by the Orinda Planning Commission on Aug. 28.

Orinda council members encouraged the Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe to reach out to the developer and continue conversations about the future of the structure, and suggested that city of Orinda staff help facilitate these conversations.

Carl Weber of the Orinda Historic Landmarks Committee, Lance Beeson, a direct descendent of the Joaquin Moraga family, and other members of the public voiced their support for preservation of the Adobe.

Moraga Town Council member Dave Trotter also came out to express his support for the preservation of the building. Trotter said that many Moragans thought the Joaquin Moraga Adobe was an important part of the broader historical heritage of Lamorinda.

“The city of Orinda and this City Council have one chance, and one chance only, to get it right,” said Trotter.

Michael Taylor July 18, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Americans would knock down and pave over th e Washington monument if it means more cheap houses and parking. Save this building. It's not rocket science.
Steve Cohn July 19, 2012 at 01:43 AM
I'm not going to get into the "he with the biggest checkbook wins" fight and I admit I was not at the council meeting last night, but I heard that the Council asked the concerned citizens if they had been in discussions with the developer and the answer was (this is not really a quote) "not for the past year". Before dragging government into the fight, "neighbors" should try to solve their differences themselves. As I said, I may have the facts all wrong (as I was not there) and would love to hear from someone who was there, even a government official using some wild and crazy nom de plume, but if the Citizens have not been talking with the Developer, maybe that should be the first step. Heritage is important; even something as seemingly insignificant as a run-down building. I remember being in a pub in Warwick England which was built in 1490 or something like that. That's older than some rocks in California!! We need to preserve our heritage but let's try to do it ourselves and not go to Big Brother first.
J.D. O'Connor July 19, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Howdy, Steve... great post and I can state that the Friends did approach the development group and propose that a plan to include the adobe in the development plan -- and to preserve it -- be undertaken. I don't believe those talks were fruitful but additional info from either or both parties are, as usual, welcome.
Maralyn Burr July 19, 2012 at 10:53 PM
In 1957, I was just a little girl attending Del Rey School. For years, every single morning, I used to lean against the "ball" storage room with the sun warming my body and I would stare up at the Moraga Adobe. My mom knew the owner and would take my sister and I up the hill to see the chickens and we would go swimming in the beautifully tiled old swimming pool. I called the Adobe my "magic house." I have lived half way across the country for 40 years, but at least once a year, I visit my home town of Orinda. I know it is now a private road, but I climb up that same hill and wander around the wonderful, grassy area, smell the eucalyptus trees, listen to the birds, and sit down for a while, near the Old Adobe house...it is still magic. Please save it! Maralyn Singer Burr


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