History & Preservation

Preserving the Olivas Adobe: Preserving a Link to the Past

The Olivas Adobe is an important part of our cultural heritage and always in need of preservation and repair. There are several ways you can help preserve and protect this treasured historic landmark for future generations to enjoy:

  • Take a tour or purchase items in the gift shop. All proceeds go to the Adobe.
  • Make a contribution of time by becoming a volunteer at the Adobe.
  • Make a tax free contribution to Friends of the Adobe maintenance fund.
  • For more information, call 805-658-4728
Adobe Building Front or Entrance

2011 restoration efforts & a brief history of the Olivas Adobe and interpretive signs

A Brief History of the Olivas Family and Rancho San Miguel


1. Born in 1809 in Los Angeles, Raymundo Olivas (no photo exists) was the seventh child of a poor family. He joined the Mexican Army in California at the age of 16 and was assigned to the Presidio (fort) of Santa Barbara as a Lancer (cavalryman).

2. Raymundo met his future wife, Teodora Lopez (pictured at age 80) in Santa Barbara. They were married on November 6, 1832, and together they had 21 children - eight girls and 13 boys. Nicholas Olivas Raymundo's oldest son (pictured).

3. In return for their service to the State, Raymundo and his friend, Felipe Lorenzana, were granted 4,670 acres by Mexican Governor Juan B. Alvarado. Raymundo began ranching his land in 1847. Jose de los Santos Olivas, one of Raymundo's sons (pictured).

4. The main house for the Rancho San Miguel was one of the few two-story haciendas in Southern California and one of the most impressive homes in the Santa Clara River Valley.

5. In 1848, gold was discovered in the American River and California changed forever. People came from all over the world to mine for gold. Knowing that the miners needed food, Raymundo's cattle herd became his gold mine.

6. These were the golden days of the don - with his new income, Raymundo finished the second story of his home and became known for his elaborate parties. For many years the Rancho prospered.

7. Droughts came in the 1860s destroying the cattle empires. Don Raymundo survived by raising sheep. In 1864, his partner Felipe Lorenzana sold his half of the Rancho. Rebecca Olivas, youngest daughter of Don Raymundo was the last member of the family to live at the adobe (pictured).

8. The death of Don Raymundo in 1879 was the beginning of the end for the Olivas' fortune. Though some family members retained pieces of the land grant until as late as 1968, the house was sold in 1899.

9. After passing through many hands, the adobe was purchased by yeast king Max Fleischmann (pictured) who restored the building in 1927. Upon Fleischmann's death, the adobe was given to the City of Ventura and it opened as a museum in July 1972.
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View Olivas Family Photo Gallery below

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Help Us Restore Priceless Art

The Olivas Adobe Historical Interpreters are having the 25 Marguerite Hardeman Historical Murals restored to their full splendor. The Interpreters need matched funding of $7,000 to complete this project. These murals take you on a visual journey of Ventura from 1542 to 1964. Please help us preserve history with a tax-deductible donation.

Info Card and Donation Form (PDF)

For more information, contact Georgeanne Lees, at 805-658-4720 or email.
Hardeman Olivas Bell Gate

Artist Beatrice Benzien (1920-2008) The Last Person To Call the Olivas Adobe "Home"

Beatrice Benzien came to live in the Olivas Adobe at age eight in 1928. Her parents, Del and Iva Reeder, were caretakers for the property. At that time, the Adobe was a private residence owned by Max Fleischmann. Living in a remote location, Bea had few playmates and took up pen and ink drawing to amuse herself. Ultimately, she grew up, married and raised a family. Later in life, she once again turned to art for comfort and amusement, this time choosing oil and canvas. Mrs. Benzien, who passed away in May, 2008, was the last living individual to call the Olivas Adobe "home." Below are samples of her artwork.

More on Beatrice Benzien

Painting of Beatrice
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Birds of Olivas Adobe Historical Park

View some image of birds taken at the Park by visitors
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