My Favorite Historical Landmark and Margaritas by Charlene Sands

 

250px-leonis_adobe_calabasas_2008Do you have historical landmarks in your vicinity?  Do you love to visit them?  Most importantly, are they near your favorite restaurant?

 

That last question isn’t a joke!  Right next to the rustic Sagebrush Cantina, (they make a mean chicken tostada and great Margaritas) where I’ve been known to frequent with my hubby, friends and my critique partners on Calabasas Road, sits The Leonis Adobe. This ranch house and surroundings is one of 200 or more rancheros that once graced the San Fernando Valley.  The entire area is deemed “El Camino Real”, the famous road that linked Spanish settlements and missions up and down the California coast. 

 

Before the Southern Pacific Railroad connected Los Angeles to San Francisco, El Camino Real was a stop on the stage line that was operated by Flint, Bixby and Butterfield and at that time, this now upscale affluent area, had a reputation as a rough and tumble wild spot in the San Fernando Valley.  

  

leonis09Miguel Leonis, a Basque land settler who stood six foot four inches tall, was a shrewd and powerful man who, after amassing land and great wealth, came to be known as the “King of Calabasas”.  He married an Indian widow named Espiritu and through that marriage he acquired 1100 acres of her family’s land, cattle, sheep and horses. It was estimated that after his death in 1889, his possessions and wealth steeped to $300,000. It is said that he left Espiritu a mere $10,000 of his estate and she in turn, sued for her fair share, a court battle that lasted ten years.  I have read reports of the house being haunted by Espiritu after her death.  200px-leonis_adobe_barn_calabasas_20081

 

For me, The Leonis Adobe, which is open to the public, is an amazing visual form of research.  So often, I would go there, imagine my western stories, pick up details on daily life on the ranch and roam around the barn, visit the horses they have corralled, the birds walking free and other penned livestock. I’ve learned how the old windmills worked and how Miguel had managed to run water lines to his house for indoor plumbing.  The kitchen, dining room, bedrooms and parlor of the house helped me envision the furnishings in my own stories and how a big ranch house operated. 

 

An arbor of grapes provides entrance to the house and a small sampling of vineyards is still intact and growing next to an orchard.  A 600 hundred-year-old oak tree provides backyard shade for the house and barn. I always peek inside the bathhouse that is free standing near the house and windmill and imagine my hero washing up in there.  (Did I just write that?)

 

Discovering the Leonis Adobe was easy. I probably drive by it twice a week and it always warms my heart that this small street in Calabasas leonis30is still holding to old traditions with the Plummer House sitting on the property, moved from its original location and known as the oldest house in Hollywood, built in 1874. And the Calabasas Creek that is partially preserved in its natural state, just 100 yards from Leonis Adobe. All of this history in such a small area and backing up against the 101 Freeway, at times many forget it’s there. They sip margaritas on the outside patio at Sagebrush and watch the world go by.

leonis25 

That is, all but history buffs and writers.  We know its there. We know the legends and often think about what life was like more than one hundred years ago at The Leonis Adobe.

 

What about you?  Do you have historical landmarks nearby?  What’s the most unforgettable landmark or historical site you’ve visited?    

 

 

 

 

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Charlene Sands
Charlene Sands is a USA Today Bestselling Author of 35 novels, writing both western and contemporary romance. She's a lover of all things romantic, especially her bold, rugged, heartstopping "real good men" heroes! She's the recepient of the National Readers' Choice Award, the Bookseller's Best Award and the Cataromance Reviwer's Choice Award. When not writing, she spends time with her "hero" husband, enjoying Pacific Beaches and drinking iced mocha cappucinos!

Charlene loves to hear from her readers.
Drop her a line at www.charlenesands.com or write her at PO. Box 4883, West Hills, CA 91308
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Updated: October 20, 2009 — 9:09 am

16 Comments

  1. Hi, Charlene. I love visiting historic villages and landmarks. It is like immersing yourself in another time. I don’t do it nearly as often as I should. We have a small historic villiage about 15 minutes from my home that I have been to several times.

    I want to drive up to Lubbock, TX one of these days to tour the National Ranching Heritage Center in asscoiation with Texas Tech. They have a 30 acre facility with over 4 dozen historic structions. Their Web site is fantastic if you want to take a virtual tour. I’ve promised my 11-year-old daughter that we will take a girls only trip there one of these days. I think I need to quit saying that and actually do it.

    If you are interested in the link: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/ranchhc/Museum.htm

  2. Hi, Charlene. I love visiting historic villages and landmarks. It is like immersing yourself in another time. I don’t do it nearly as often as I should. We have a small historic villiage about 15 minutes from my home that I have been to several times.

    I want to drive up to Lubbock, TX one of these days to tour the National Ranching Heritage Center in asscoiation with Texas Tech. They have a 30 acre facility with over 4 dozen historic structions. Their Web site is fantastic if you want to take a virtual tour. I’ve promised my 11-year-old daughter that we will take a girls only trip there one of these days. I think I need to quit saying that and actually do it.

  3. Hi Char,

    I love this post. I have visited alot of historical monuments and I have also visited the Biltmore House in North Caroline.

    It is really beautiful. I want to visit all Wounded Knee one day. I love to read about historical places.

    Thanks Char

    Walk in peace and harmony,
    Melinda

  4. Hi Karen – oh that Ranching Heritage center sounds wonderful! Yes, definitely make it a girls day and go. I will check out their website!! I love learning historical facts and ways of life. That’s my favorite part of doing research. Thanks for visiting today!

  5. Hi Melinda – My friend visited Wounded Knee and it really changed her life. It was very powerful. She talks about her experience there often. There’s so many places I have yet to visit that I’d love to see in our country.
    Thanks for your post today!

  6. Your blog made me want to pack up and drive to CA, Charlene. That red canopy bed is to die for. And there’s got to be a book in that story of the original owners. I love historical sites. No favorite comes to mind–maybe I need to find a place with a good restaurant.
    🙂

  7. Hi Elizabeth – Good morning to you! I know there has got to be a good book in that true story of their life. I always think that life is stranger than fiction. You can’t even make up some of the stuff that goes on in real life!! Thanks for stopping by today!!

  8. I’ll have to add The Leonis Adobe to my bucket list (it’s getting so long I’ll have to live to be 200 to get it done :)). Not far from where I live is the site of the second battle of the Civil War, in Springfield, MO.

    Most unforgettable place? Either the Alamo or the 12th century church I visited in Russia. There’s just something about touching walls and walking on floors that others touched that long ago that really gets to me.

  9. Hi Tracy – I know what you mean. I get shivers when I touch the same ground that great men and woman have walked. When I was in Boston, inside the Paul Revere House, I couldn’t believe it. Or when I was in the North Church and touched the site Lafayette stood when he viewed George Washingtons’ picture … or Samual Adams grave. There’s so much history there, and here, in CA with the Gold rush site up north too.

  10. Hi Charlene, oh, one of my favorite places! I have a hero in an published (so far LOL) wip who uses a wash house just like Leonis.

    Nearby I also like the Olivas Adobe and Cold Spring Tavern. In Sacramento (9 hours north) we totally enjoyed the Leland Stanford mansion. He wanted a third story, and Sacramento in those days flooded notoriously, so he had the whole house raised up and a new basement and first story added on. Whew. I guess he didn’t want to mess up the mansard roof line or something.

    I really enjoyed visiting Salem, MA and Walden Pond. Lots of history and emotion there for me.

    Great post. I feel like I’m there! oxoxoxox

  11. Hi Tanya! Have we had margaritas there together? I think so. Love all the places you’ve visited. We never got to Salem, but maybe next time. We should go visit Leonis Adobe again soon. Interesting about Leland Stanford!!
    Email me privately if you’re reading this. I have a question for ya!
    Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Just across the river from me in Onawa, Iowa, they have a museum that has gathered several old buildings and moved them to this spot. A school a church, a jail, a train depot, a log cabin…several other things. Very cool. And they have a museum building besides this that I can spend forever in.

  13. Just southeast of Houston, you can visit the San
    Jacinto Monument State Park. It is possible go to
    the top of the monument again, which is taller than DC’s Washington Monument! In Houston, there is the Astrodome, known as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Some fifty miles northwest of the city is Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park, site of the capital of the Republic of Texas. I’ve visited all these sites but the most memorable for me will always be the Alamo, where I was touched in a most unforgettable manner!

    Pat Cochran

  14. Hi Mary – I WOULD spend forever in that museum too!

    Hi Pat- I’ve been to Texas, but haven’t seen the Alamo. I want to go next time. What an awesome place that must be.

  15. Hi Charlene, I was grew up in a small community called High Bridge and it got its name from the Bridge that was there, here is a little history from it.

    High Bridge was first planned as a suspension bridge by John Roebling, designer of the famous Brooklyn Bridge (NY City). Huge stone towers were built to hold cables in 1851. Work on the bridge was abandoned during the Civil War. Construction was resumed by the Cincinnati Southern Railway and the bridge opened in 1877. The 275/308-foot tall and 1,125 foot bridge crosses the deep gorge of the Kentucky River between Jessamine and Mercer counties. It is the first cantilever bridge built on the American continent. Being, at the time, the highest railroad bridge in the US, High Bridge at once became a tourist attraction. Its popularity was at a peak during the first 20 years of the 1900s. In 1911 the bridge was rebuilt using the same foundations and without stopping rail service. In 1929 the large twin towers were also torn down, and its popularity slowly faded.

    So I guess there is a lot of land marks where we are from. You just don’t think about it.

  16. Avatar

    We’ve been lucky enough to have lived in many areas with historic houses and sites. In upstate N. Y. There were historic houses of the pre-revolutionary war era and Fort Ticonderoga. We then lived in Colorado and visited old mining towns and Mesa Verde. Then to Sacramento, CA and the history of that area. We lived in suburban DC not that far from Mt. Vernon and everything else the area has to offer. We now live in NE TN in the oldest town in the state. Davey Crockett’s birthplace is nearby, Andrew Johnson’s home is just a little further down the road. Asheville, NC is just over the mountain with the spectacular Biltmore Estate. We love history. We take advantage of what is in the area where we live and hit the historic sites on our vacations. We just got back from Texas. So a few things, but not enough. We hope to go back again some day.

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