A glimpse of the past can be seen as one walks along Los Rios Historic District and the oldest residential street in California. This narrow street, without sidewalks, but with large mature trees, speaks of a time long past when individuals lived in small cozy houses, knew their neighbors, and were related to many who lived on the same street. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, nieces and nephews, cousins, all grew up in the area and many still remain.
Los Rios Historic District is just that: an historic district. The street is on the National Register of Historic Places and includes those houses facing Los Rios Street. A street that has not changed all that much since it first became a location for the homes of the Acjachemen/Juaneno Indian neophytes who were not confined to the Mission. This in itself was unusual. At most Missions the neophytes lived in reed huts, “kichas”, which were burned when old and rebuilt as needed. Of the original adobes, all were built about 1794, once lined this street, only three left: the Silvas, Rios, and Montanez Adobes. The Rios Adobe has been continuously occupied by descendents of the original owner.
As the other adobes vanished due to neglect or demolition, board and batten houses of similar sizes and appearance replaced them. These houses are called “contributing structures” to the Historic District. Los Rios had always been a working class neighborhood which exhibits the changing tastes of over 200 years of building. The street made the National Register of Historic Places because it has a good collection of single-wall constructed dwellings, such as the Lupe Combs House, Pedro Labat House, Ramos House, and the Olivares House. Other historic houses have been moved into the District for preservation, the O’Neill Museum (Garcia/Pryor House), the Yorba/Love House, George “Buddy” Forster House, and the Arley Leck House.
The houses are set back from the street and are usually less than 1,000 square feet in size. The lush landscape and mature trees give a feeling of permanence.