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Avila Adobe, Los Angeles

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The Ávila Adobe, built in 1818 by Francisco Ávila, is the oldest standing residence in City of Los Angeles, California. However, the oldest building in the county is the 1795 Gage Mansion in Bell Gardens, currently considered the oldest structure in Los Angeles County. Avila Adobe is located in the paseo of historical Olvera Street, a part of Los Angeles Plaza Historic District, a California State Historic Park. The building itself is registered as California Historical Landmark #145, while the entire historic district is both listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.

The Plaza is the third location of the original Spanish settlement El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles sobre el Río Porciúncula, the first two having been washed out by flooding from the swollen Río Porciúncula (Los Angeles River). The Avila Adobe was one of the settlement's first houses to share street frontage in the Pueblo de Los Angeles of Spanish colonial Alta California.

The walls of the Avila Adobe are 2.5–3 feet (0.76–0.91 m) thick and are built from sun-baked adobe bricks. The original ceilings were 15 feet (4.6 m) high and supported by beams of cottonwood, which was available along the banks of the Los Angeles River. Though the roof appears slanted today, the original roof was flat. Tar (Spanish: brea) was brought up from the La Brea Tar Pits, located near the north boundary line of Avila's Rancho Las Cienegas. The tar was mixed with rocks and horsehair, a common binder in exterior building material, and applied to beams of the roof as a sealant from inclement weather.

The original floor of the Avila adobe was hard-as-concrete compacted earth. which was swept several times a day to keep the surface smooth and free from loose soil. (Dirt floors were common among most early adobes.) In later years, varnished wood planks were used as flooring.

The original structure was nearly twice as long as it now appears and was "L"-shaped with a wing that extended nearly to the center of Olvera Street. The rear of the house had a long porch facing the patio. Francisco tended a garden and a vineyard in the rear courtyard. The nearby Zanja Madre (literally "Mother Ditch") was a main water aqueduct and irrigation ditch that brought water down to the Pueblo from the Los Angeles River and was close enough to the adobe for Francisco Avila to avail himself. Avila eventually added a wooden veranda and steps to the front of the adobe.
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Avila Adobe reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
110 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • THis is an amazingg free attraction. I love this old house and they hiistory behind. constructed in 1818. this place is right there in Olvera street. do not miss this. 
    THis is an amazingg free attraction. I love this old house and they hiistory behind. constructed in 1818. this place is right there in Olvera street. do not miss this.  more »
  • Located on Olvera Street in the middle of a large Mexican market area is Avila Adobe. Avila Adobe is a 1970’s rebuilt replica of an 1820 home that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1971. There is a....  more
    Located on Olvera Street in the middle of a large Mexican market area is Avila Adobe. Avila Adobe is a 1970’s rebuilt replica of an 1820 home that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1971. There is a....  more »
  • Worth a stop if you want to experience Olvera street and all its colorful noise - ditto the park across the way, often host to ethnic festivals, etc. There are other additional free museum-ettes... 
    Worth a stop if you want to experience Olvera street and all its colorful noise - ditto the park across the way, often host to ethnic festivals, etc. There are other additional free museum-ettes...  more »
Google
  • After all these years, I finally notices this incredible historic building. It was the first home in LA. It is entirely adobe, the home visit is free. It is sparsely furnished as it was originally with placards appointing out the significant furniture and uses. The outdoor kitchen, located in the courtyard was so interesting. This is a don't miss attraction.
  • The guide to the house was very knowledgeable and provided a real feel for life in this house from 200 years ago. It was lovely to sit in the peaceful courtyard and take in the environment. An added bonus was the public restroom. Well worth making a donation for all of that.
  • will continue to visit this oldest house in LA..I am proud of what my people and ancestors did even if I am from Texas..all this land used to belong to my Mexico..even if I have seen it before, I will keep returning. Everything looks genuinely antique here from the furniture to the clothes. And I take the time to read mostly everything here. Surprizing to see how people used to live with the few clothes and belongings they had. I like the courtyard with the old wagon and cactus. Across there is a small exhibit about water in LA..
  • This is an interesting museum! Two words: INFINITY ROOM. Go there, and your time here will be well worth it. While I enjoyed the paintings and the "Big Furniture" room, my five stars are mainly for our experience of the Infinity Room, which continues to be one of the most popular exhibits in the museum.
  • Away from the glitz of Hollywood, and the glamour of Beverly Hills, and seemingly away from the busy-ness of downtown Los Angeles, the Avila Adobe, the oldest house in Los Angeles, is in the historic district on Olvera Street. It is so beautifully furnished, and so simplistic in design, and takes you back to Los Angeles' Spanish roots. You can tour the house for free and see the parlor, several bedrooms, the kitchen and a study. It is well worth the visit.

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