By Kate Woods, in The Weekend Pinnacle Online
Historic Castro-Breen Adobe of San Juan Bautista illuminates the lives of those who called it home
It may not sport the once-planned robotic tech of a fake horse whinnying or an animated rubber chicken flapping its wings, but San Juan Bautista State Park’s newly renovated Castro-Breen Adobe is sure to be a winner among school children.
On March 11, the historic building that was home to Military Gov. Jose Tiburcio Castro and the prolific Breen family in San Juan Bautista during the 1800s will re-open its low-hanging doors to the public. The two-story adobe, a centerpiece in the town’s Mission Plaza, has undergone a three-year, state-funded $1.65 million makeover that, more than anything, preserved the building itself – especially from earthquakes.
Inside, visitors will get a crash course of what life was like for the Spanish Californians and Irish-American people who lived in the building, and for the Native American Mutsun who lived outside its doors. Life-sized wooden cut-outs of the adobe’s most prominent occupants, accompanied by a few replicas of artifacts, timelines and many educational panels, tell the Castro-Breen story, geared toward the thousands of field-tripping fourth graders who traditionally have filed through the adobe’s doors every year since the 1960s.
“We wanted to give equal weight to the Castros and the Breens,” said state park interpreter Pat Clark-Gray, as she gave reporters a sneak preview of the restoration earlier this week. “Before it was more Breen. And we also wanted to give more information about the Mutsuns.”
Clark-Gray said the new tour that awaits school children complies with a new state standard for fourth-grade history and social studies. But it’s an important story for all residents of the area. The Castro-Breen Adobe was the first outpost of “civilization” established in San Benito County. It was home to the first military governor of the state and then the first Anglo family to settle in the area.