San Miguel Reflections, May 2018

The Friends of the Adobes will hold their annual memorial service at the little Estrella Adobe Church on Airport Road in Paso Robles, just outside of San Miguel, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 27 – Memorial Day weekend. This service honors the memory of pioneers who settled this part of the north county in the 1800s. Churches were very important to them. Descendants of some of those families still live in the area.

Photo by Meagan Friberg

The adobe was built in 1878 and was the first of several protestant churches (wood-framed) built in surrounding districts that had attracted settlers here even before the railroad arrived in 1886. Mission San Miguel, founded in 1797, is the oldest and the only Catholic church in the area until St. Rose of Lima was built in Paso Robles in the late 1880s.

The Estrella Adobe is the only rural church that survives. It fell into ruin over the years until the History and Landmarks Committee of the Paso Robles Women’s Club had it restored. Resident adobe expert Jess Crettol of San Miguel did the work, aided by young men from the nearby El Paso de Robles Youth Correctional Facility (known familiarly as the ‘Boys School’) under the supervision of correctional officer James White, also of San Miguel. Along with the Caledonia, it has been in the care of Friends of the Adobes since they were founded in 1968 for that purpose. The kerosene wall lamps and reed pump organ enhance the atmosphere.

In San Miguel, the Friends of the Adobes and the History Group of the San Miguel Resource Connection both work gathering, preserving and presenting our history and stories. Sadly, some wonderful original buildings like the 1887 brick school house that was located in what is now San Miguel Park, have been razed and only pictures and memories remain. The History Group erected a kiosk in Fr. Reginald Park (next to the mission), built by Jacob Cagliero as his Boy Scout Eagle project, featuring town maps and information about local businesses provided by the Chamber of Commerce. They created a historical tour of the town with an informational brochure highlighting points of interest and have placed plaques at several historic locations.

The Caledonia Adobe Museum and Gift Shop is open weekends 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Mission San Miguel Museum is open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The work done by history groups is invaluable. They love hearing from people who have historical information and/or pictures. Hundreds of school children visit both museums annually as they study California history and docents are welcomed and trained.

To volunteer at the Caledonia, call Laverne Buckman at 805-712-9920 or go to discoversanmiguel.com. To volunteer at the mission, call the Gift Shop at 805-467-3256 during business hours. Better yet, come to visit!