The adobe home of Col. Thomas F. and Martha Mitchell, originally located at Lost Canyon and Sand Canyon Roads in Canyon Country (southeast side of the Santa Clara River), was the first structure in the Santa Clarita Valley to be used as a school.
After the Mitchells built a 2-story frame house and a proper school was erected in the mid-1880s, the original adobe fell into ruin. In 1919, Mitchell in-law Walter Murphy salvaged some of the original mud bricks and
built a dwelling nearby. That is what is seen in this 1960 photograph — and what was ultimately rebuilt at Heritage Junction in William S. Hart Park, where it can be seen today.
About the Mitchell Adobe.
Colonel Thomas Finley Mitchell, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, moved a miner's shack to Soledad and Sand Canyons in 1860 where he lived and headquartered his 160-acre ranch. After he married Martha Catherine Taylor in 1865, he constructed a large adobe, using parts of the miner's shack.
After the Colonel had increased his holdings to 1,000 acres, Martha began the Sulphur Springs School in 1872, with classes being held regularly in the kitchen of the adobe. It moved to the Lang Hotel and Spa in 1879. The first students were from the Mitchell, Stewart and Lang families. In 1886, a regular school was built by John Lang and Sanford Lyon on land donated by the Mitchells.
Restored Mitchell adobe at Heritage Junction Historic Park, Newhall. Photo ©Jessica Boyer 2016. Click to enlarge.
The Mitchells built a new, 2-story wood-frame family home in 1888 and abandoned the old adobe, which fell into ruin. In 1919, the Mitchells' son-in-law, Walter Murphy,
used the remaining adobe bricks to erect a home a short distance away for the ranch foreman. It later served as a guest house, apiary and tack room until it was threatened with demolition. Historical Society members stood in front of a bulldozer August 14, 1986, to prevent it from being razed.
The property owner allowed them to salvage the adobe bricks, which were transported to Heritage Junction and reassembled. The rebuilt adobe was dedicated November 5, 1989.
The upshot: Some of the straw and mud in the structure at Heritage Junction dates back to 1860 and bore silent witness to the Santa Clarita Valley's first formal education.
The original 1860 adobe was 45x60 feet and made of clay dug from a layer deep in a hand-dug well. The roof was covered with either split redwood shake or a very thin cedar shake.
It had a wooden floor constructed of light-colored wainscoting.
As of 2012, the original Mitchell home site and the surrounding land are set to be developed into the mixed-use Vista Canyon Ranch project.
Tom Mitchell of the Soledad by Richard F. Mitchell, 2002.
Tales of Lang and Soledad: The Story of an Adobe by A.B. Perkins, 1961.
Story of Sulphur Springs School by Leon Worden, 1997.