First adobe on left eventually
became the El Adobe restaurant, 2nd is the Domingo
Yorba Adobe, 3rd is the Garcia Adobe French Hotel
The building that houses El Adobe de
Capistrano restaurant today was originally two adobes. The northern
section of the building was the home of Miguel Yorba. The southern
section of the building was used as the Justice Court and Juzgado
(jail). The building has been used as a post office, store, and
stage depot. The home of Miguel Yorba may have been built by his
father, Jose Antonio Yorba II, as he was living there in 1841.
The southern building has the more
colorful history. It was not known when it was built but appears
to have been erected early in the 1800s. It became the Justice Court
in the upper part of the building and the jail was located in the
The Seeley & Wright Stage Line
from Los Angeles to San Diego operated in the 1850s and stopped
in San Juan Capistrano overnight. The driver drove the team through
the opening between the two adobes and the passengers spent the
night at a local hotel. Early the next morning they were again on
Harry and Georgia Vander Leck joined
the two adobes in 1910 and used them as their residence and store.
By joining the two, the couple was able to create a dining room
in the area between the two. Each end of the building had a wing
that led to the rear and extended the building down to the west.
The wings had lower floors than the main buildings. There was a
frame addition on the west side which made the house quite large.
In 1946 Clarence Brown purchased the
adobes and turned them into today's El Adobe de Capistrano Restaurant.
The restaurant opened on July 8, 1948 with a wedding reception for
the first Commanding General of Camp Pendleton, General Joseph C.
Fegan. President Richard Nixon was a frequent guest when he resided
in San Clemente and enjoyed the Mexican cuisine.
The adobes have had several additions
creating a place where many social events take place. A large area
was added to the west side of the building featuring a ceiling that
slides open to the sky. It was built by Roland Olsen. A chapel setting
was created for weddings which are often held in the large western
patio. The old Juzgado (jail) is now the wine cellar. Today the
property is owned by Rancho Mission Viejo and the restaurant is
leased to Dick O'Neill, Melinda and Tony Moiso, Gilbert Aguirre
and Steve Nordeck.
...more History & Mystery on SJC.net
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