The Marron Adobe, is located in the Rinconada portion of Rancho Agua Hedionda, a 13,311 acre rancho that once extended from the Pacific coast through most of Carlsbad and parts of Oceanside and Vista. On the original rancho was a thriving orchard, vineyard, cattle ranch, butcher shop, milk cattle and home to generations of the Marron family, considered the 1st family of Carlsbad. Currently, the remaining 4 acre parcel is the home of the great-great-grand daughter, Shelley Hayes Caron, a descendant of the Marron family and the last descendant of an early California family to live on their original land grant.
The history of the rancho and the adobe is extensive as the Marron family has been in possession of this area for 176 years. Juan Maria Romualdo Marron was granted the Rancho Agua Hedionda in 1842 by Mexican governor Juan Bautista Alvarado. In 1860, Felipa Osuna de Marron, widow of Juan Maria Romualdo, had to take out a mortage on the ranch, for $6,000 for 5 years, from Francis Hinton, a wealthy land and mine owner. Unable to pay Hinton back, Hinton would take over ownership of the property. In 1870, Hinton mysteriously died and ranch foreman Robert Kelly, a partner of Hinton, was able to take over the property after battling surviving Hinton children in court. Felipa Osuna de Marron would fight for ownership of the property in various court cases to no avail as no will had been probated from Juan Maria Romualdo. This would lead to a cloud on Silvestre Marron’s title to his inheritance. In 1875, an agreement was made between Robert Kelly and Silvestre Marron stating that if Silvestre gave up grazing and salt gathering rights, title would be cleared for the property. Kelly died in 1890 and the Agua Hedionda property would be willed to his brother Matthew’s nine children. The Rinconada portion would remain with the Marron family.
Photos by TR Robertson
The Marron-Hayes Adobes Historic District has been nominated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The 3,600 square foot, L-shaped adobe is an example of some of the finest adobe ranch house construction, including some walls that are over 2 feet thick, keeping the home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The property of the historic district includes the Marron adobe, a melted adobe (an adobe in ruin due to the elements), 2 artisan springs, archaeological sites of Native American Indians and is adjacent to a wildlife corridor, El Salto waterfalls and the remains of a Lusieno Indian village sites. This village was first recorded by the Gaspar de Portola expedition of 1769. Portola was the founder of San Diego and eventual governor of Las Californias. The El Salto waterfalls have been declared a Native American sacred site. At one time there were seven adobes in the Rinconada portion of Rancho Agua Hedionda.
In 1947, Fred Hayes began restoration of his grandfather, Silvestre Marron, original adobe. Fred was the 5th child of Felipa Hayes de Marron, Silvestre’s daughter, and wife of John Chauncey Hayes. Chauncey was one of the founders of the city of Oceanside. Felipa and Chauncey lived just west of the present Marron adobe, in what is referred to today as a melted adobe. Fred added 2 wings to the Marron adobe to complete the quadrangle. One of the new wings would add a grand sala (large room), a kitchen; the other wing added a garage and service area and outside of the adobe was a roof top water tower. Fred’s desire to preserve the Marron adobe was based in his feeling of the importance of preserving the Marron ranch home where his grandfather had lived and where he and 6 of his 13 siblings and his mother were born.
Today, the adobe and the former 360 acres parcel are going through huge changes that could affect the existence of the adobe. As Highway 78 was expanding in the College Blvd.-Hwy. 78 area, the adobe was threatened by the building of an interchange. One hundred and thirty-four acres are now part of the Buena Vista Ecological Preserve, due in part to the efforts of the Preserve Calavera organization and many other stake holders. One hundred and sixty acres are now owned by the Corky McMillin Company, including the proposed building of the 636 home Quarry Creek residential project and apartment complexes, a 1.5 acre community facilities site, a 1.3 acre park and ride site, 72 acres of natural green space and roads needed to access the development. The controversial development made concessions to settle lawsuits, filed by the Preserve Calavera environmental group, which included changes to grading, limiting building heights, street and landscaping along the northernmost portions of the property and the purchase of 60 acres of private hiking and recreation land to keep as permanent open space. Portions of the original property have already been used to develop the two shopping centers off of College Blvd, that contain Kohl’s and Albertson’s on one side and Wal Mart on the other side.
Whatever the final results are of the proposed housing project, one thing is clear, the need to preserve the history of one of the last fully intact adobes in the area. This adobe, along with Rancho Guajome and Rancho Buena Vista Adobes are part of the history of Southern California. Not open to the public without an appointment or as part of a group; Shelley Hayes Caron currently brings in elementary school children, service clubs, scout groups and others to show them what adobe life was like and to tell them about the history of this part of California. She has a series of story boards that go through the long history of early California history of this area. Her dream is to turn the adobe into a museum, similar to the Rancho Guajome and Rancho Buena Vista Adobes, to forever preserve this part of California history. KCOT TV of Oceanside will be showing a 6 segment series on California adobes beginning March 6. This program was made possible through a grant from the Parker Foundation and will also include interviews with Luiseno Indians as well as Shelly Hayes Caron. For those who want to know more about adobe life in Southern California, the book written by Lynne Newell Christenson, PhD. And Ellen L. Sweet, Ranchos of San Diego County, provides additional history and lots of pictures from long ago. This book is available on line at Amazon.com. and at the Guajome Adobe gift shop.
There is a tremendous amount of history surrounding us that most people drive by without realizing it is there. The Marron Adobe is an example of this. Hidden from view, just over the small hills by Highway 78, heading east, lies a part of California history that most people in North County don’t even know is there. In today’s fast paced world, it is nice to step back in time and take a look at where it all began. These California adobes give you a chance to see what life was like in the early life of California, when things were both a lot simpler and a lot harder, but the beauty of the land and the wide open spaces represented the true California lifestyle.