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How the Middle Class Lived?
Posted on November 22, 2011
Can you imagine living in an 1880-era farmstead in Southern California?
The Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead provides visitors the opportunity to peek into the world of Inland North County’s earliest American farmers to settle in the state after statehood was achieved. Located just off Interstate 15 near Lake Hodges at the gateway to the San Pasqual Valley Agricultural Preserve, the Sikes Adobe is a registered c and a part of the 55-mile San Dieguito River Park that extends from Julian to the Pacific Ocean.
Built in 1870, the Farmstead features one of the oldest structures in the county. It sits on a 5.7 acre parcel at the head of the Mule Hill Trail, and consists of an adobe and wood frame structure, originally constructed by Zenas and Eliza Sikes as a dwelling on their wheat farm of 2,400 acres. “The Sikes Adobe is representative of the growth of California which followed the Gold Rush and statehood in 1850,” said Anne Cooper, Sikes Adobe Museum Manager. “The Farmstead is significant today because it is a rare example of a middle class pioneer farm family’s dwelling. As a historic site it also presents the opportunity to interpret the last quarter of the nineteenth century as it was experienced by that family’s members.”
The process of historic research and restoration of the Farmstead began in 2002 (when it was owned by the City of San Diego Water Dept.), and the fully restored farmhouse opened to the public in January 2004. The San Dieguito River Park’s volunteer docents provided tours of the house on the weekends. Furnishings in the house were minimal at the time of the October 2007 Witch Creek Fire, which burned the meticulously restored house to the ground – except for the adobe walls. “In February 2008, the San Dieguito River Park purchased the Farmstead,” Cooper said. “With the help of Federal Emergency Management Administration funding – which covered stabilization of the remaining adobe walls – and insurance…the house was restored and reconstructed a second time. A reopening celebration was held June 26, 2010.”
Visitors enter a six-room late-Victorian farmhouse with period furnishings, complete with an exhibit room that includes the Sikes family history, artifacts recovered at the site, and information on the nearby town of Bernardo (which now is covered by Lake Hodges). “Docents are available for background history and to answer questions,” Cooper said. “Guests can open our stove, try out furniture in the sitting room, sit at a writing desk, try their hands at a wash board and wash tub, operate a sewing machine treadle, rock in a rocking chair, build a tower with blocks, view a short video on the restoration and post-fire reconstruction of the farmhouse, and more.”
Other activities occurring at the Farmstead include the North San Diego Certified Farmers’ Market, which is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays; a Valentine’s Day Tea; a Spring Social, and other events. School groups are welcome, and workshops are conducted periodically on such things as beekeeping and candle-making.
In addition to encouraging people to visit the historic Farmstead, Cooper indicated she seeks both financial support to expand the activities and continue the research and site investigation – and volunteers to continue the restoration and serve as site docents.
The Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead is open to visitors 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday (and by reservation for groups). More information is available at www.sdrp.org. To schedule a school outing, volunteer or make a donation, contact Cooper via email at email@example.com, or by phone at 760-432-8318 or 619-884-1170.
Location: Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead
Address: 12655 Sunset Drive, Escondido, CA 92025 (East of the I-15, south of Via Rancho Parkway on Sunset Drive)
Hours: Tues., Thurs., Saturday – 10 -1 p.m., Sunday – 10 – 4 p.m., (and by appointment)
Tours & Activities: Docent tours available during regular hours. With a reservation, tours include activities for visitors (schools, adults, scouts, etc.) that reflect the social and economic conditions of a farmhouse of the 1880s, such as doing laundry, use of stereopticons, practicing manners in the sitting room, gardening, creating toys, sewing, making lavender wands, etc.
Volunteer Opportunities: Become a docent and step into the past. Individuals are needed who either know or are willing to learn any of the tasks that supported a small farm (building a chicken coop, plow a small field, plant a garden, “put up” preserves, sew clothes, make signs, paint , tec.). Assistance is also needed to plan events, develop programs and raise funds.