Summary of Significance
The grouping of buildings at Rancho Camulos, including the Ygnacio del Valle adobe, winery, fountain, bells, and chapel are eligible for listing as a National Historic Landmark under Criterion 1 because of their exceptional value in interpreting the social and economic history of the California rancho from 1853 to 1880. These ranchos are unique to California, as they exist no where else. For National Historic Landmark eligibility, the period of significance is defined by the beginning construction of the first four rooms of the adobe in 1853, and the completion of the adobe, and death of Ygnacio del Valle, in 1880. During this time the rancho grew from a few hundred head of cattle to a thriving self-contained agricultural operation of 1,290 acres of citrus, vineyards and row crops supporting nearly 200 residents. The additional buildings constructed at Rancho Camulos between 1881 until 1943 are also eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for their contributions to the development of agriculture in the Santa Clara Valley.
The Ygnacio del Valle adobe, winery, fountain, bells, and chapel are also eligible for listing as a National Historic Landmark under Criterion 1 for the exceptional significance they attained as one of three of the nation's most prominent and widely recognized Ramona landmarks, following the publication of Helen Hunt Jackson's book Ramona in 1884. This singular event, combined with the arrival of the Southern Pacific railroad at Camulos in 1887, propelled the rancho into a nationwide notoriety that proved key to the romanticizing of the mission and rancho era of California history.
The Ygnacio del Valle adobe, chapel and winery all achieve national significance under NHL Criterion 4 because they embody the characteristics of an architectural type that are exceptionally valuable for their method and type of construction (adobe, wood frame and brick). The Ygnacio del Valle adobe is among the finest extant examples of Californio-era rural vernacular architecture in the nation. In addition, the courtyard, chapel and winery immediately surrounded by the family orchard are especially valuable contributors to the interpretation of this period (1853-1880) of late rancho buildings. California adobe architecture, although regional in derivation, is an important property type because it served as the prototype for the ranch house, a style that flourished throughout the United States from the 1930s onwards. The additional buildings (1881-1930) on the 1,800 acre ranch and within the 40 acre nominated site are eligible for listing on the NRHP under Criterion C as contributing to the interpretation of the continuing hispanic architectural traditions in California, and as fine representative and unaltered examples of rural agriculture buildings and railroad architecture.
The period of significance (1853-1943) for the National Register of Historic Places reflects the development of the working ranch at Camulos, the transition of the regional economy to one heavily dependent on citriculture, the history of an important Californio family, and the era of Ramona-inspired tourism. The period of significance includes all the buildings on the 40 acre nominated parcel constructed between 1853 and 1930. The first building on the property, a four-room adobe, was constructed by Ygnacio del Valle in 1853. When August Rubel purchased the property from the del Valle Family in 1924, he immediately became the careful steward of Camulos. He recognized the great historical and cultural significance of the ranch, the del Valle family and the Ramona myth. While he was alive, Rubel actively promoted the history of the ranch and the preservation of its architectural fabric. The only new building constructed on the property by Rubel, a schoolhouse built in 1930, was designed deliberately to complement the historic architectural flavor and ambiance of the ranch. He established a small museum in the winery to house the del Valle artifacts. Following his death in 1943, his widow began modernizing the property, introducing numerous changes, including the addition of two large picture windows into the Ygnacio del Valle adobe.