Avila Adobe is believed to be the oldest surviving residence in Los Angeles. The structure was built in 1818 by the mayor of Los Angeles, Francisco Jose Avila. The area was part of Mexico at that time, and the mayor, like nearly all others in the area, where either citizens of Mexico or members of Native American tribes. Today, the home is located in the paseo of historical Olvera Street within the Plaza Historic District- a California State Historic Park.
The Avila Adobe was built in 1818 by Francisco José
Avila, a native of Sinaloa, Mexico who was a famous and affluent ranchero, or
cattle rancher. He was also the mayor of Los Angeles from the years 1810-1811. In
1823, the Mexican government granted Francisco Avila a large 4,439-acre land grant which covered
much of present-day Beverly Hills and the Miracle Mile district. This land was called Rancho Las Cienegas, near La Brea Pits, approximately seven miles
west of the pueblo.
Although the house was renovated in 1929 to prevent the state of California from tearing it down, the Avila Adobe still has the look and feel of early 19th century Californio, when Mexico owned present-day California. The Adobe Avila is immaculately built of tar from the La
Brea Tar Pits, clay from the LA River and wood from the riverbank. This beautiful historic home features 3-foot-thick walls made of sun baked adobe brick
over cottonwood timbers, a traditional interior courtyard, and 1840s-era
furnishings that bring to life an era when the city was still part of
Mexico. The ceilings, which are still the original, are
fifteen feet high with support beams made from cottonwood. The floor of the building was originally hard-as-concrete compacted
earth. This concrete replica was swept several times a day to keep the surface smooth. It
was later covered with varnished wood planks.
Today the Avila has seven rooms left. The
largest room in the home is the family room which was used for dining,
entertaining and social gatherings. The 'sala' or living room was only
used for special occasions such as weddings or baptisms. Other areas of the adobe include a large courtyard with covered
porches, stables and workshops.