The Dana Adobe in Nipomo – a view into California’s Mexican history

Dana Adobe

The Dana Adobe

At the southern end of San Luis Obispo County in Nipomo, the newly restored Dana Adobe, affords us a glimpse into the California of nearly 200 years ago. In its day it was a hub for mail, visitors and the flow of historical events. It is open for tours.

The Dana Adobe in Nipomo, SLO County

The Dana Adobe during its 2012 Fiesta

Click on any photo on this page to view in a larger size.

The story of William Goodwin Dana and his adobe home in California takes place within the period of Mexican rule over this area.

In 1821, Mexico achieved its independence from Spain and allowed for a government in the California territory that was a bit closer to home.

Mexico continued the Spanish practice of granting large tracts of land to soldiers, politicians and others who were deemed able to make the area productive in crops, trade and cattle.

Captain William Goodwin Dana

William Goodwin Dana

William Goodwin Dana came from the New England Dana’s which included his younger, and more famous, fourth cousin – Richard Henry Dana, Jr. author of Two Years Before the Mast.

This was a seafaring family and William was raised into this occupation and became a ship’s captain in his early twenties.

Even during the Spanish period, American merchants traveled around the Horn and traded manufactured goods to the Californios in exchange for cattle hides. These hides were returned to New England and leather goods were produced.

Dana Adobe Quick Facts:

Address: 671 S. Oakglen Avenue, Nipomo, CA 93444 (Located on the old El Camino Real)

GPS coordinates: 35.0277, -120.4693

Tours: Call for information regarding days and times

Phone: 805-929-5679 (office hours M-F 10-3)

Website: (DANA = Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos)

Year Built: 1839

Dana Adobe Historical Landmark Plaque

Dana Rancho plaque

Dana, seeing opportunities in California, gave up command of his ship and became a store owner and shipper in Santa Barbara. There he met and married Maria Josefa Carrillo, daughter of a prominent California family.

He was granted Mexican citizenship and eventually (in 1837) the 37,000+ acres of Rancho Nipomo. The El Camino Real passed right through the center of his rancho and he placed his home along the edge of this important roadway.

An adobe wall on the Dana Rancho in Nipomo returning to the earth whence it came

A deteriorating adobe wall on the Dana Rancho property

The buildings of this period (just like the missions) were constructed from the most readily available material – adobe blocks made from clay rich soil, straw and water. Dried in the sun, adobe served as an inexpensive basis for building as long as its outer surfaces were protected from the weather by a coat of stucco. This waterproofed the adobe which would quickly “melt” back to its origins if exposed.

View of the adobe to the NW with the veranda

NW view of the Adobe

This photo shows the results of the recent restoration, having made great strides in renewing the exterior. As mentioned above, this is the primary concern with adobe buildings.

Old photos and sketches of the home show many trees and landscaping around the house. I imagine that the Amigos, having done such a fine job on the house exterior, will plant gardens as once existed, which will make the adobe an inviting place today as it once was.

I will close my remarks here, but will share some more photos below of the interior.

The first floor renovations are nearly complete and the second story work is underway. Perhaps at the 2013 Fiesta it will be available for viewing.

Fireplace in the main salon with portraits of William and Maria Josefa on the mantle

Main salon fireplace with portraits of William and Maria Josefa Dana

Another view of the main salon with period furnishings

Main salon with period furnishings

Bedroom at the Dana Adobe, Nipomo, California

First floor bedroom

View from the interior to the veranda overlooking the Nipomo Valley to the east

View from the interior to the veranda

Cast iron cauldron for tallow California Missions from Dana Adobe

The view from the Dana Adobe over the Nipomo Valley and the Temattate Ridge in the distance

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