Endangered old Pacheco adobe seeks savior

There’s a lot of talk around Concord about the Don Fernando Pacheco adobe as the city desperately tries to find a way of saving it.

Don Fernando was the son of Don Salvio Pacheco, whom the city honored last year with a statue in Todos Santos Plaza. In 1835, Don Salvio sent his 17-year-old son to settle the newly acquired Rancho Monte Del Diablo with a large herd of cattle. Don Fernando built the little adobe and raised two boys and four girls there until 1851.

There were never less than 20 people at each meal in the adobe, which also became well known for its fabulous fiestas. The parties sometimes lasted weeks, and so many people attended that many had to camp outside.

To feed all his friends, he would barbecue a whole cow or sheep. Taking great pride in their horses, the guests would challenge each other to races to see whose horse was the fastest. Many of the guests would dance all night to the music of guitars and violins.

Don Fernando was quite heavy, at 6 feet, 2 inches tall with weight that fluctuated but averaged 450 pounds. It was hard for him to move easily, so he had a special carriage built with a shelf inside on which he would rest his stomach.

The 1,500-acre ranch was in constant danger of being wiped out by Indians. Although he was unable to actively supervise his property, the ranch was very prosperous.

Biggest funeral in the county

Don Fernando died May 11, 1884, in his adobe. His funeral was one of the largest ever witnessed in the county, and he was buried in Martinez.

The estate went to his two sons, Pedro and Bonifacio, and his four daughters, Asunción, Librada, Ciprana and Bersabe. As they got married and moved into their own homes, only Asunción remained in the home on Grant Street.

Endangered old Pacheco adobe seeks savior
The Horseman’s Association restored the Don Fernando Pacheco adobe in the 1940s, but the group can no longer manage the property.

The adobe stayed in the family until 1919, when she died. After that, the house was abandoned. Years later, the adobe’s west wall was down, the roof was caving in, the windows and shutters were missing, the porch roof was falling in and, in general, it was in shambles.

In 1939, the California Water District gave the adobe to the Contra Costa Historical Society to restore. They then gave it to the Horseman’s Association so it could be restored in 1940.

During the restoration, they rebuilt the west wall and added supports to keep the wall up. They fixed the windows and the shutters as well as the roof in the porch. They also put in a fireplace and chimney.

An earlier photograph of the adobe showed a small room that was supposedly a cookhouse attached to the west wall. After fixing the wall, they added a fireplace there.

Looking for help

On Aug. 17, 1941, the restoration process was complete and the Fernando Pacheco adobe reopened.
The reason I’m reminding you of this little piece of Concord history is that the Horseman’s Association has to give it up. The Concord Historical Society is unable to help at this point, because the group is still involved in creating a museum for Concord in the restored Masonic Temple – now known as the Concord Museum and event center.

If anyone out there in the readership happens to have time, money and a desire to restore one of the first three buildings built in Concord, the city would love to hear from you. It would be a shame not to save this symbolic building.

Carol Longshore has been a Concord resident since 1950. She is a community leader and past president of the Concord Historical Society. Send comments and suggestions for future topics to editor@pioneerpublishers.com.