Peabody Hotel

Paul Williams' father, Chester Stanley Williams, works at the original Peabody Hotel at the corner of Main and Monroe as a waiter from 1884 through 1893.

In the 1880s popular author Helen Hunt Jackson writes a historical novel to draw attention to the mistreatment of Native Americans by Anglo society. The novel is set in an exotic Southern California locale virtually unknown to the rest of the country. The real setting for Jackson's best selling book Ramona is La Casa Del Rancho Camulos near Piru. (The actual rancho is owned by the socially prominent Del Valle family.) Her detailed descriptions of Rancho Camulos popularizes the California style of architecture and creates a romantic vision of the state's Spanish past. From the 1880s through the 1920s the Spanish-revival and Mission style of architecture is one of the most popular in the United States for homes, businesses and public buildings. Paul R. Williams designs scores of buildings in this style.

Tourists come by train and automobile from across the country to visit the real Ramona house, wedding chapel and rancho. Eventually the Del Valle family sell their rancho due to the crush of thousands of uninvited visitors who disrupt their working ranch and citrus business. By the 1920s many Southern California towns and businesses seek to cash-in on the Ramona craze by naming parks, streets, gardens, and even hotels after Hunt's heroine. (Annals of the Association of American Geographers. December, 2003)  The novel Ramona, is reissued over 300 times and is in print today. In 1910  D.W. Griffith directs the first film based on the novel and shot on location at Rancho Camulos.  Two other motion pictures and an opera are also based on the novel.

These photographs, courtesy of the Historic American Building Survey (HABS), document La Casa Del Rancho Camulos and are held in the Library of Congress.

Casa Del Rancho Camulos
Chapel and fountain at Casa Del Rancho Camulos
Chapel at Casa Del Rancho Camulos
Winery at Casa Del Rancho Camulos