Anza Adobe


Built  circa 1799, this Spanish Colonial adobe building’s viga remnants (Spanish for beam or rafter), adobe floor, and painted wainscoting suggest it was an early Mission outbuilding, possibly a chapel, a barracks, or a dormitory, with a flat roof. Reference in the annual mission report written by the Mission’s first priests Father Jose Manual Martiarena and Father Pedro Adriano Martinez related that a chapel approximately 17’ by 42’ had been built of adobes and was probably roofed with tules.

One of only four adobes still standing in our downtown, Anza House was first built as one long room until the pitched roof was added sometime near 1830, and a dividing wall was added to support the ridge poles. There is a full width secondary shed roof covering the two entrances and porch along the front, supported by simple rectangular wood posts. The two entries were added in 1864, and consist of two tall and narrow French style doors with four glass panes. Wood sash, double hung windows with wood sills and casings are in both adobe rooms. A four room shed roof addition was added to the back of the building in 1864.

Francisco “Pancho” Bravo operated a cantina here during the 1850‘s.  His first wife Fernanda Escobar was the youngest child of Marcelino Escobar, a presidial carpenter who was one of 28 soldier-craftsmen from the De Anza Expedition. Fernanda still owned half of an inherited parcel on the Carmel River known as Rancho San Jose and Sur Chiquita. In the 1860’s her husband sold her land to build a new saloon next door (Bravo House/Casa Rosa) and to make the four room addition to the Anza House.

Bravo sold the Anza House to Bartolomeo Ottoboni in 1893, who owned it for 14 years until it was sold to Charles Kessling in 1907. In 1935 Kessling’s estate sold the adobe to E.G. Johnson for $525 and it was in Johnson’s family for 63 years until 1998. E.G. Johnson opened the first antique store in San Juan in the front of the building.  His nephew continued the business until his death in 1996.  Both men lived in the back residence.

During the years Johnson owned the building he removed and salvaged an old pool hall which had been built between the Anza House and the then Casa Rosa, making the space into a garden planted with old Castilian roses.

Home of the first antique store in San Juan for over 60 years, it was reopened as Old Adobe Antiques in 2009.  The back of the building is a private residence.