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.