Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
1888 Mitchell House
Soledad Canyon at Lost Canyon

Click image to enlarge

Undated photograph of Thomas F. and Martha Mitchell's permanent home in Soledad Canyon: a 2-story, wood-frame structure built in 1888 on the east (actually southeast) side of the Santa Clara River in Soledad Canyon, near Soledad and Lost Canyon roads. For the family, the house replaced the old Mitchell Adobe home, which subsequently fell into ruin. In 1919, the Mitchells' son-in-law Walter Murphy salvaged some of the adobe bricks and built a new adobe home nearby. It stood until August 1986 when both the 1919 adobe and this 1888 house were razed by a developer's bulldozer for homes that were never built.

But never say never: As of 2013, the area is part of the planned Vista Canyon Ranch, a mixed-use development.

Although the wood-frame house was lost, some of the adobe walls and bricks were recovered by members of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society and removed to Heritage Junction Historic Park in Newhall, where they were reassembled.

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.

Further reading:

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.

AP2226: 19200 dpi jpeg from copy print.

(Vista Canyon Ranch)


Book by Richard F. Mitchell 2002

• Perkins Story


Cemetery ~1961


Adobe Home: Early Photos


1888 Mitchell House


R.F. Mitchell 1919-2002


Dyer Family, SCVTV 2009


Geo. Walters, 1874-1940


Archive Video 2008


Lost Cyn Bridge Widening 2012


• Specific Plan

• Appendix

• Revisions to EIR

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