Rancho Camulos Museum and National Historic Landmark

RCM Bids Farewell to Pair of Veteran Supporters
RCM board member Mary Schwabauer and volunteer Marie Wren were honored at the dedication of the museum’s research library in June 2017. Both women played a significant role in the restoration of the 1920 adobe building and creation of the library space as well as many other museum projects. Mary and Marie passed away last month at the age of 92.
Last month, Rancho Camulos Museum and Ventura County lost a dynamic duo in local non-profit leadership with the passing of Marie Wren and Mary Schwabauer, both 92 years old.
Marie served as one of the original docents of Rancho Camulos and headed the museum’s docent council for nearly two years. She was instrumental in recruiting additional volunteers, developing the museum’s school tours and adult tours and assisting with fundraising efforts, among numerous other activities that allowed her to share her passion and talent for local history. Her most recent contribution to RCM was donating her collection of Southern California history books to the museum’s research library along with a generous gift to create a comfortable library reading room. Shortly before her passing on September 12, Marie received word that the RCM Library had been named in her honor.
Marie moved with her husband to Fillmore seventy-three years ago from Oklahoma and as she said, “never looked back.” In addition to being an active Boy Scout volunteer along with her late husband, Gene, Marie was also an author. She recently published Stories to Be Told: Tales About the Pioneer People and Places in Little Santa Clara River Valley, Southern California.
Mary Leavens Schwabauer, who passed away on September 19, played an equally influential role at Rancho Camulos Museum and other Ventura County non-profit organizations. A former teacher, Mary became a leader in the county’s agricultural, philanthropic and cultural communities. The daughter of Presbyterian missionaries, Mary moved to Santa Paula as a young child. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in concert organ followed by a master’s degree in education and then teaching English and music at Cabrillo Junior High School in Ventura. In addition to her 35-year career as an educator, Mary served on the Moorpark Chamber of Commerce, the Moorpark school board, the Los Robles Regional Medical Center board as well as many other institutional boards, including the Ventura County Museum of History and Art. She was a founding member and president of the Associated Historical Societies and Museums of Ventura County, an organization that benefits an array of historic sites and museums located across the county.
Mary’s contributions to Rancho Camulos Museum were significant and of lasting impact. She served as an early board member of RCM, playing a key role in raising the funds necessary to restore the historic site after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In recent years, Mary and her family’s foundation contributed funding to complete much of the restoration of the museum’s 1920 adobe that houses its research center. Up until a few years ago, Mary served on the RCM board and offered wise advice on professionalizing and growing the museum.
In addition to passionately serving her community, Mary led an adventurous, full life. RCM director Susan Falck recalled a favorite story Mary enjoyed sharing that was testament to her zest for life. While attending flight school at the Ventura Airpack, Mary met her future husband, Charles Schwabauer, who liked to spend his free time with his aerobatic Ryan airplane, which he had purchased as war surplus and restored using his expert mechanical skills. After a brief courtship, Charlie took Mary up for ‘”a spin” as he liked to say. While flying the plane inverted over Telegraph Road in front of Mary’s parents ranch, he proposed and refused to turn right side up until he received the answer he wanted. “Mary applied a similar sense of daring and energy to her many years of public service and was never afraid to speak her mind,” noted Falck.
Marie Wren and Mary Schwabauer were two of RCM’s most valuable assets and sources of inspiration, according to Falck. “Both of these ladies generously shared their special talents and resources with RCM and other local non-profit groups. They were delightful to work with and served as role models for all of us dedicated to the non-profit sector. I was particularly appreciative of their regard for volunteers. Marie and Mary both knew better than most the resources–human and material–required to run a non-profit organization. They will be missed by RCM, but will continue to serve as an inspiration for years to come.”
RCM Reopens For Weekend Tours with New Addition!
Rancho Camulos Museum is pleased to announce that outdoor weekend tours will resume on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Sundays, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., effective October 24. In addition to tours of the grounds outside the main adobe, chapel and schoolhouse, visitors will be allowed to see the inside of the museum’s research center housed in the 1920 adobe facing Highway 126.
Often referred to as the”small adobe,” the building is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year. It was built for Ygnacio “Nachito” del Valle, the youngest son of Ygnacio and Ysabel del Valle, who served as ranch manager from about 1919 to 1924, when the property was sold to August Rubel. In recent years the building has been beautifully restored and now houses the museum’s research center and library.
Please note: We will be following Ventura County guidelines to keep visitors and volunteers safe. All persons will be required to wear a mask at all times and social distance. Thank you for your cooperation.
Historic Grape Arbor Renovation Completed
Earlier this month, the reconstruction of RCM’s grape arbor, a replica of the historic arbor that stood on the property more than 150 years ago, was completed by a dedicated crew of museum volunteers. Led by volunteer Bob Cox, museum volunteers removed thick foliage on the old arbor, followed by painting, sanding and installing new wood to replace many of the rotting boards. Additionally, trusses found on the property and believed to have been part of an earlier arbor were installed. Volunteers’ efforts saved the museum a considerable amount of money in labor costs. The arbor has long been an important part of the historical landscape of Rancho Camulos. The del Valle family frequently hosted meals with family and friends under the cool shade of the grape vines. Nineteenth-century brides made their way to the Camulos chapel through the openings of the arbor, and modern-day brides continue this nostalgic tradition.
Cox, who was instrumental several years ago in helping to build the museum’s carriage house that stands adjacent to the arbor, said he was drawn to this newest project for a variety of reasons. “Part of it was satisfying my ego. I enjoyed completing this much-needed project and being able to save the museum a considerable sum of money in construction costs.” Cox said the grape arbor project was another way to honor the work of museum volunteer Ralph Rees, who passed away several years ago and was Bob’s shop teacher at Fillmore High School decades ago. It was Rees who designed the carriage house and Cox carried out the plans when Rees became too ill to complete the job. Bob and his wife, Diana, (who painted many of the boards) also share a special family connection to the arbor. Their son, Charlie, was married at Camulos in 2008 and their two-year-old grandson Kyle served as the ringbearer.
Others who helped with the project included Ken Asarch, Maria Christopher, Lynn Edmonds, Gary Gieseman, Tom Rieger, Marie Scherb, , Gordon Uppman and Hillary Weireter, Many thanks for a job well done!

Just a short drive from Santa Clarita through the beautiful Heritage Valley, this National Historic Landmark is where the early California lifestyle is preserved in its original rural environment. This 1,800 acre working ranch was one of the settings for Helen Hunt’s 1884 novel “Ramona” and where the 1910 Mary Pickford movie of that novel was filmed.
The non-profit museum is a portion of the ranch containing 1853 and 1920 adobes, an 1860’s chapel, a 1930’s schoolhouse, winery building, and beautiful grounds. Access is only by docent led tours, which are usually Sundays from 1-4 PM and by appointment. Call or visit our website for current hours and activities. The suggested donation is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children 12 and under. School tours, special group tours and special events such as weddings can also be arranged.

Tataviam Village dedication at Rancho Camulos

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Where the history,  myth,  and romance of Old California still linger.

How the Del Valles built Camulos

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Visitors Information

5164 East Telegraph Rd. (Highway 126 – 10 miles west of I-5)
Piru CA 93040
805-521-1501
Visit us at ranchocamulos.org