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Historic Ranch May Become Public as Pendleton General Vacates

The Commanding General at Camp Pendleton moved this week. The move is significant because the home he vacated -- an important historic landmark in San Diego county -- could eventually be opened to the

Historic Ranch May Become Public as Pendleton General Vacates

The Commanding General at Camp Pendleton moved this week. The move is significant because the home he vacated -- an important historic landmark in San Diego county -- could eventually be opened to the public. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

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Major General Michael Lehnert looked wistful as he paused in the driveway of the 180-year-old adobe ranch house that was, until this week, his home.

<b> Lehnert </b> : This is our last day to live in the ranch house at Camp Pendleton California also referred to as Rancho Margueria y Las Flores. The ranch house has been continuously occupied by the Marine Corp since the mid 1940s, normally by the general officer in charge of the base. It's a wonderful house to live in and it's very difficult to leave it.

Bruce Coombs, director of San Diego's Save Our Heritage Organization says the hacienda is a treasure.

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<b> Coombs </b> : It is one of the most significant ranch houses of this period in the state of California and perhaps the west.

The hacienda's rooms are arranged around a courtyard, with what is reportedly the oldest bougainvillea tree in California flowering crimson in one corner. The story goes that Pio Pico, then governor of California, planted the bougainvillea when he lived in the house in the 1840s.

Coombs says his organization has been in talks with the Marines for more than 20 years about the adobe structures, which are very well preserved.

<b> Coombs </b> : The reason the building is preserved is because when President Roosevelt toured the base as the government took it over for the marine base he said, I want to see this outstanding piece of California history preserved exactly the way it is today.

Depending on the outcome of negotiations between Camp Pendleton and Save our Heritage, the stately old adobe may one day be open to the public once more.

Alison St John, KPBS News.