FALLBROOK – The Palomares House, one of the oldest structures in Fallbrook, has a fresh, new look – as a result of a grant from the Sleeping Indian chapter of the Questers.
At an estimated total cost of $2,600, the redwood floors in the community room and hallway were sanded and refinished, and the former blue trim on the walls was repainted “seedling green.” Questers volunteers also laundered the antique lace curtains and repaired a crystal chandelier.
In the future, the organization hopes to provide vintage furnishings and décor, as well as finish painting the trim in three smaller rooms, which are utilized as office space by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy (FLC). The group’s other projects have included work on Fallbrook’s Pittenger House and the De Luz schoolhouse.
The Questers is an international non-profit founded in 1944. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Penn., the organization has more than 13,000 members throughout the U.S. and Canada. Members research and study antiques, as well as donate funds for the preservation and restoration of buildings and other historic sites.
The Palomares House was built in 1888 and is registered by the Fallbrook Historical Society. It is the last remnant of Ysidro Alvarado’s Rancho Monserrate, a 13,000-acre land grant from his brother-in-law, Gov. Pio Pico, stretching from the San Luis Rey River almost to what is now downtown Fallbrook.
In 1874, the rancho was divided among Alvarado’s heirs. His daughter, Lugarda de Palomares, received a 4,500-acre parcel on which she built a complex of ranch houses and buildings. Of those, only the Palomares House remains as one of very few examples of vernacular architecture from the late 1800s in North County.
In July 1990, the FLC acquired the Palomares House, together with approximately one acre of surrounding land as a gift from Vince and Joy Ross, Otis and Linda Heald, and Al and Flo Pinamonti. The grant deed contains deed restrictions that preserves the historic building and ensures that the land around it will always be a public park. The adjacent park, once the site of a Christmas tree farm, contains a wildlife sculpture garden, a vintage windmill, an arboretum, picnic tables and a pathway with memorial tiles. Stagecoach Sunday, the FLC’s popular annual fall fundraiser, is also held here.
Over the century or so since the Palomares House had been built, the interior had been modified many times to reflect the standards of the times. By 1990, the building was in need of a major make-over to return it to a more historic condition.
The following year, the FLC’s Palomares House committee assembled a crew of volunteers to tackle the restoration. The windows were re-framed to their original large size, the floors and ceilings were refurbished, and the original 12-foot-high ceiling was made visible again. (The committee also added a few elegant touches that probably didn’t exist in a house for ranch hands, such as wainscot with wallpaper, lace curtains, an ornate chandelier and ceiling fans.)
Last summer, the FLC launched a fundraising drive to replace the building’s now dilapidated wooden patio arbor with a new aluminum structure that will be maintenance-free, termite-free and last for many years. The cost of the project is estimated at $31,000, according to Mike Peters, executive director and preserve manager of the FLC. The group has received a $15,000 Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant from the County of San Diego towards the project, but must raise the balance of the funds by this June or the grant will be forfeited.
For more information, visit www.fallbrooklandconservancy.org.