Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 216: An Adobe House Field Trip

A field trip with my daughter. We drove down to Red Bluff to investigate the last Adobe structure remaining in northern California. This house is made of mud bricks (mud and straw); has been standing since 1852. My camera's battery died while looking at the inside of the house (which was simple but beautiful). The temperature outside was in the high 90's; inside the house, it was lots cooler. Bearable even.

The plaster on the house is of lime from a local quarry. Lime plasters aren't mandatory; they do help the house last longer. The other alternative is just to apply more mud plaster every couple of years.

Too bad this sort of simple eco-friendly housing has been abandoned. It is cool in the summer. Warm in the winter. It has an earthen beauty and simplicity to it. The house exudes a sense of place (local dirt, local straw). Someday, when we finally bulldoze all that crap housing that we've built over the last seventy years, perhaps houses like this will become the norm.

The oak tree outside the house is 350 years old (according to the State Park Ranger who showed us around). I've never seen a bigger oak tree in California.

I leave this State Park depressed. Depressed that such beautiful, practical housing has been swept aside by the likes of the Home Depot Industrial Complex. I long for simpler times. Will I live long enough to see it happen?


lph said...

Very cool Allan. Many years ago I travelled to the mountains of Venezuela and spent a night in an old adobe home. It was such a simple place.

Awesome to see a 350 year oak tree. I don't believe they get that old here in the midwest.

Take care,

Allan Stellar said...


I know in my hometown back in your neck of the woods, we had a 200 year old oak on top of the bluff its still there if you go to Rushford, MN). But I've never seen one quite like the oak at William Ide Adobe State Park. Usually they get so heavy that they fall. I'm not sure what was more special: the 1852 adobe or the oak?

lph said...

I gotta go with the oak tree (although looking at the photo, when the tree goes they will go together).

They picked a great spot to build a house though!