The Avila Adobe was constructed in 1818 by a prominent ranchero, Francisco José Avila, a native of Sinaloa, who was alcalde, or mayor of Los Angeles in 1810. Following Francisco Avila’s death in 1832, his second wife, Encarnación Avila continued to live in the house with her two daughters. The Los Angeles Census of 1844 lists Encarnación Avila, age 40, as a widow living in the house with one daughter. For a brief time, from January 10th through the 19th, 1847, the adobe was commandeered as a military headquarters by the invading North American army under Robert Stockton.
After Encarnación Avila died in 1855, the home passed to her two daughters, Luisa and Francisca and their husbands, Manuel Garfias and Theodore Rimpau. Francisca and Theodore Rimpau and their nine children continued to live in the adobe from 1855 to 1868 until they moved to Anaheim, California where Theodore served as the first mayor. From 1868 to the early 1920s, the adobe was rented and used as a restaurant, rooming house, or was frequently vacant. The condition of the building deteriorated and was finally condemned in 1926 by the City Health Department, which caught the attention of Christine Sterling, who began a public campaign to save the adobe.
Today, the Avila Adobe is open to the public as a museum and is furnished as it might have appeared in the late 1840s. It attracts over 300,000 visitors annually and is a wonderfully tranquil space in the heart of the big city.