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Ramona & Ballena

Montecito Ranch/Cagney Adobe - c. 1880's
Built by the Barnett family the adobe was later purchased by actor James Cagney. It is now slated to become a museum in conjunction with a new development and grasslands conservation plan.

During the height of the fire Channel 8 was reporting directly in front of the adobe. SOHO staff repeatedly attempted to contact the reporter on the ground, Spencer Washburn, to let him know about the importance of the structure being threatened. Once contact was finally made, Spencer began talking directly to firefighters and the public about the historic significance of the house and the irreplaceable heritage being threatened. The fire first passed behind the house to the East, then as night fell, the strong Santa Ana winds returned and blew the fire in front of the house in some of the most dramatic TV footage shot during the fires. The area looked like the inside of a blast furnace, intense orange with a mass of embers red-hot and blowing straight horizontally at great speed; everyone thought surely the house was lost. After two fire retardant drops were made on the adobe and direct intervention was taken by firefighters on the ground, the house was saved from certain destruction even though the grounds burned on all sides right up to its verandahs.

Montecito Adobe - aerial view

Left William Flack House - c. 1895. Lost; middle & right Ballena Schoolhouse - c. 1880's. Lost. Built as a schoolhouse, it was later turned into a comfortable home.

Littlepage House - 1870's. Lost. Built as the Rosemary Schoolhouse, it was added onto and made into a home by the Littlepage family, early pioneers who first came to the area in the 1860's. It was later owned by author Judy van der Leer, whose sister Mary still lived there at the time of the fire.

Right Taken after the 2003 Cedar fire. Firefighters made a valiant stand and saved the house. This fire burned up to the house on all sides, its fate secured for only another four years.

More about the wildfires

2007 - Volume 38, Issue 3/4


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From the Editor

Reconstructing Balboa Park's "Dream City"
Names & Milestones in the History of Prado Buildings

10 Vanished Balboa Park Landmarks

Historic Losses: Fires Devastate San Diego San Diego County's Historic Sites

California Tile: Our Claim to Tile Fame

The Use of Tile in the Home

Tile Resources

President's Message


In Memoriam - Beth Montes

The Beth Montes Memorial Internship & Outreach Fund

Book Reviews

Letters to the Editor

Lost San Diego

Strength in Numbers


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DOWNLOAD full magazine as pdf (21mb)


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