San Luis Obispo County

Dana Adobe Providing a Link to California's Past

VIDEO: Dana Adobe in Nipomo

NIPOMO, Calif. - A trip to the historic Dana Adobe in Nipomo is a journey into California's past.

"You can go back in time, it's very easy to do," said Gina Bernero, Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos board member.

A visit to the 176 year old building is to understand the humble beginnings of Nipomo, which was founded by Captain William G. Dana and his family.

"Dana Adobe is a Mexican land grant. The Dana family moved here in 1839. The original house was one story and by the 1850's, as the family grew, the house grew as well," said Berero, who volunteers as a docent at the adobe.

The home was the center point of "Rancho Nipomo," which covered a sprawling 38,000 acres, and included most of what is now south San Luis Obispo County.

"It went all the way from the sand dunes, to the Santa Maria River, to Los Berros, to the Temettate Ridge," said Bernero.

After years of planning and fundraising, the adobe was fully restored two years ago, and more than 130 acres of undeveloped land was preserved.

"Many of the old buildings of California are surrounding by traffic or cities, so we're rather unique. We have a wonderful view shed."

Recently renamed the Dana Cultural Center, Bernero says the site gives visitors a first hand experience of an era long past.

"We really do try and focus on that when we have visitors come.  There was no running water, no electricity, there were vaqueros on the property, it was a working rancho."

Now, the adobe and it's surrounding property is a popular destination for local schools.

"We do have field trips for 3rd and 4th graders. They come here throughout the school year. We have many activities," said Bernero.

Students who visit the adobe are given hands-on instruction in tortilla making, brick building, roping, branding, dancing and lessons in local plant and wild life.

Looking to the future, the center is set to add several new features just to the south of the adobe that will enhance the cultural experience here for visitors.

"There will be a nature education project, there will be hiking trails, possibly equestrian trails, native plants, it's going to be really quite lovely," said Bernero.

Also slated, a new visitors center, Chumash interpretive area and classroom space. Construction on the multi-million dollar project is scheduled to begin later this fall, with completion set for late 2016.

When completed, it will enhance what is already a jewel of the central coast where time has seemingly stood still and where history still lives.

Visitors can experience the Nipomo Cultural Center on weekends only. It's open Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The site is now also a popular destination for weddings and other gatherings.

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