Time to Save the Oldest House in Orinda: Joaquin Moraga Adobe

(Contributed photo)
The Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe are raising money through a GoFundMe campaign to restore the oldest building in Orinda and Contra Costa County, the Moraga Adobe home, built in 1841 by Don Joaquin Moraga.

    The 1841 Joaquin Moraga Adobe, built by Don Joaquin Moraga as a modest two-room, though other rooms were added later, is the oldest house in Orinda and the oldest surviving building in Contra Costa County – and it needs saving.
    Despite its name which confuses many, Joaquin Moraga Adobe, the home, recognized as a historical landmark by the State of California in 1954 (Landmark #509), is located in the City of Orinda. It rests on 2.3 acres of land surrounded by a new subdivision, J & J Ranch Development.
    The Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe are doing everything they can to keep the home safely restored while turning it into a museum. In order to reach those goals, the group needs to raise a half million dollars.
    The nonprofit recently started a GoFundMe page to move efforts along. “We recently passed the half way mark of $250,000, probably currently near $270,000,” said Kent Long, president and chairman for the last 11 years of The Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe.
    “The money will go towards the restoration of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe,” said Long.
    “If we reach our goal, it will be deeded over to us, and we will open it up to the public and schools as a museum,” added Long. “It will open 30 days a year, most likely one weekend day a month. Additionally, we plan to have school group visits throughout the year, particularly fourth grade students when they study the missions each year. Del Rey Elementary students are literally within walking distance to the Adobe.”
    Long has had a fascination for the Adobe since he was a kid: “I grew up in Orinda and had known about the Adobe. It was never open to the public, so as a kid, I was always kind of curious about it!” Long volunteered at the Moraga Historical Society 11 years ago as an archivist.
    “When word about the Adobe came up, I went out there for the Moraga Historical Society and took pictures for them,” Long added. “So when J & J Ranch bought the property, they invited everyone on a walk-through. A lot of those people on that tour said we needed to organize something and turn the house into something!”
    The Friends of Joaquin Moraga Adobe was born, with Long at the helm. The Moraga Historical Society also has a stake in partnership, and so does J & J Ranch, which owns the land.
    If the nonprofit organization can reach $500,000 by September 2021, J & J Ranch will match that amount and surrender the deed to The Friends of Joaquin Moraga Adobe.
    Long said if they don’t reach their goal, it will most likely become a clubhouse for the 13 homeowners, with somewhat limited public access.
    For Long, and all members involved in this tiny house, the intent is not just about restoring the Adobe, but also about preserving history.
    “If you don’t know about history, you’ll make the same mistakes again,” said Long. “I think history is a humbling thing. If you understand the people and struggles of those who went before you, it gives you perspective on our times and ourselves. This Adobe house is something that people can connect with.”
    For more information, visit www.moragaadobe.org or type “Moraga Adobe” on www.gofundme.com.

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