Historic Peralta Building to Be Integral Part of Anaheim Hills Shopping Center : Adobe to Provide Touch of History

Times Staff Writer

The attractions at the Anaheim Hills Shopping Village will soon include the Ramon Peralta Adobe, an 1871 structure that has been restored and soon will be ready for public viewing at the $7-million center.

Not only has the adobe been completely revamped as a community center and museum, but the entire shopping village follows the same adobe-construction theme.

“One of the purposes of restoring a historic building,” said Robert Selway, executive officer of the Orange County Historical Commission, “is to get a large number of people to see and enjoy up close a structure of the past.”

Exterior Complete


He said the exterior of the adobe is complete, but it may take another three months to finish an exhibit room that will include a dirt floor, which was common in the 1800s, and an unfinished wall to show the inside construction details of that era.

Furnishings of that time period will complete the exhibit room.

“You could argue about having an adobe as part of a shopping center,” Selway said, “but we think when it opens in two or three months it’s going to be a huge success.”

Don Dobmeier, a member of the Historical Commission, said, “The neighborhood is happy to see this happen. For years they’ve been looking at a crumbly old building and now they have an attractive community center.”


The county bought the abandoned and repeatedly vandalized adobe in 1970 from a partnership of five people, the last in a series of owners. The purchase price at that time was not made available.

Through a lease agreement with the center developer, C. Robert Langslet & Son Inc. of Long Beach, the adobe became part of the shopping complex. It sits on the edge of the 6.6-acre site at Santa Ana Canyon Road and Fairmont Boulevard in Anaheim Hills.

Developer Paid Tab

The $180,000 restoration cost was paid by the Langslet company, which also provides maintenance for the building.


“We basically said we would restore the adobe,” said Craig Langslet, “so we hired an archeologist who came up with the historical interpretive theme. It’s a unique plan. We don’t know of another like it.”

Modern additions, besides bringing the adobe up to earthquake safety standards, included ceiling lights, electrical outlets, forced air heat and air conditioning. The Tarbell Real Estate office, adjacent to the adobe, will open and close the building and generally operate as the caretaker when it is completed and ready for visitors, according to current plans.

“The whole plan was a different kind of approach in two ways,” Dobmeier said. “First, it’s unusual for government and private enterprise to get together for this kind of project and second, you don’t see many adobes in a shopping center.”

To Sister Eileen McNerney, a teaching nun at Rosary High School in Fullerton and a descendant of the Peralta family, the restoration and future use is good news.


“None of the adobes were really very attractive buildings” she said, “so they weren’t beautiful things to be preserved.”

McNerney also believes that centering attention on the adobe may “motivate some of the Peralta descendants to try to find each other when they hear about the restoration. I know there are a lot of them (Peralta relatives) out there but I don’t know where.”

She said the history of the Peralta family “has been kind of a hobby of mine. I still have the memories of adobes from talks with my grandmother (Soledad Peralta) when I was only 7. Now, I want to see the building as it originally looked.” Besides serving as a community center, according to Patti Schooley, the county parks department ranger in charge of historic sites, “people will be able to see what it was like to live in an adobe during that era.”

By having the adobe in a shopping center, she added, “the community will be very much aware of it and that’s the point. We want it to be used.”


She pointed out that the meeting room would accommodate only about 30 people and said most of the details for the adobe use are being worked out but would include open houses, special tours and events that tie in with shopping center promotions.

She added that the main use will be as a community meeting center.

“We also have to be aware of problems we may have to face with keeping the building open,” she said. “There’s always a chance for vandalism and theft in an unsecured building.”