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Los Rios Historic District

Los Rios Historic District in San Juan Capistrano

General Information

Los Rios Historic District plaque

The Los Rios Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places April 4, 1983. This District includes 31 historic structures which line both sides of the street from Del Obispo to Mission Street. The District’s registered boundaries lie within the locally designated Los Rios Historic Area, a 40-acre planning area which includes homes, “cottage” businesses, a park, and museums, and is one of the oldest neighborhoods in California.

The District has many interesting architectural styles spanning two centuries. Three homes are made of adobe and are the only ones remaining of 40 adobes originally built in 1794 by Indian neophytes. Nearly 1,000 neophytes lived and worked around Mission San Juan Capistrano. The most common structures on Los Rios Street and board and batten homes built between 1887 and 1910. It is this collection of single-wall-construction homes that qualified it for the National Register. A few of the homes have been built since 1920, but stringent guidelines make sure new construction is compatible in size and design.

The District also includes River Street, originally a narrow dirt road whose history is linked to that of Los Rios Street, having served as the main path across Trabuco Creek, connecting the town to the ocean. Finally, the District includes the Santa Fe Railroad Depot which has served as a vital element of the community since its construction in 1894.

Although constructed over a long period of time, the small homes of the Los Rios Historic District create a cohesive neighborhood which retains the small town character of San Juan Capistrano at the turn of the century. The homes possess a striking unity and an unassuming quality of design. Many have been restored, such as the home of Albert Pryor, now the O’Neill Museum.

Please enjoy your visit to the Los Rios Historic District, a special part of San Juan Capistrano’s history. You are welcome to stroll the quiet streets and capture the feeling of San Juan Capistrano a century ago. Most of the homes are privately owned and occupied and can only be viewed from the street.

San Juan Capistrano Jail Cell

This jail cell was built in 1896 to serve as a holding cell for miscreants on their way to County jail. Originally located on the West side of Camino Capistrano at the intersection with Ortega Highway, it was the scene of several jailbreaks and one hanging.
Historical Site No. 31
Orange County Board of Supevisors
Orange County Historical Commission
Placed 1983

San Juan Capistrano Jail Cell San Juan Capistrano Jail Cell plaque

Rios Adobe

Built in 1794 for Feliciano Rios, a Spanish soldier based at the San Juan Capistrano Mission, it is the oldest home continuously occupied by one family in the State of California.

Rios Adobe Rios Adobe plaque

CIRCA 1890 - 1900


Oliveras home Oliveras home plaque

O'Neill Museum

Built in the 1880's, this Victorian house was one of the town's first wooden buildings. It was moved from its original location across the tracks and about a block south. The building was restored in 1979.

See our link to the O'Neill Museum

O'Neill Museum O'Neill Museum plaque

Gift Shops and Restaurants

There are a number of interesting gift shops and restaurants for you to enjoy while you stroll along Los Rios Street. Some of them are highlighted below.

Master's Marketplace Master's Marketplace

Sign in front of Apple Rose Cottage Apple Rose Cottage Apple Rose Cottage

Sign in front of The Tea House Restaurant The Tea House Restaurant The Tea House Restaurant link

The Ramos House Cafe The Ramos House Cafe

Hummingbird Cottage Hummingbird Cottage Hummingbird Cottage

The Los Rios Historic District is located on Los Rios Street in San Juan Capistrano, across the railroad tracks from the San Juan Capistrano train depot. See map.

Items of Interest...

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