$5M plan would allow Adobe Sanchez visitors to travel back to 1800s 

An ambitious plan is moving forward to upgrade the historic Sanchez Adobe site on Linda Mar Boulevard into a true "walk through time" that brings the past alive with a much broader appeal to attract more visitors.

The Sanchez Adobe is now primarily popular as a Bay Area school tour destination. Some 6,500 third- and fourth-graders take the interactive tours during the school year, participating in Rancho-period activities that include roping wooden calf models, adobe brick making, corn grinding and candle making.

"School group appointments for the next fall are opened up in April and they get fully booked within two weeks," said site manager Linda Corwin, who began as a volunteer docent some 16 years ago.

Under a new master plan, the Sanchez Adobe rooms will be restored to look as they did in 1846, when the adobe was built. All museum displays will be moved into a new exhibit center.

There will also be extensive new outdoor signs enabling self-guided walks among the many significant archeological features of the 5.4-acre site.

"This master plan is like a dream come true," said Shirley Drye, a Sanchez docent since 1979. "Now all the public will be able to see and understand this site’s rich archeological heritage. It has been an Ohlone Indian village, a Mission outpost estate and a Mexican-period rancho."

Although well-maintained since San Mateo County purchased the property in 1947, the Sanchez Adobe is only open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

With an environmental impact report now completed, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is scheduled on Tuesday to approve certification of the $5 million Sanchez Adobe Master Plan that began preparation in September 2004, based on a wish list brainstormed during the mid-’90s by recreation, history and ecology leaders.

The supervisors’ expected certification vote will enable county Parks and Recreation Department personnel to officially apply for a matching grant from the state’s Proposition 12 fund for renovation of California historic sites.

"As soon as Sacramento approves the grant application, we will have a nine-month deadline to raise the other half of the funding. It will be a challenge, but we hope to have all the money in place by spring 2007," said Mitch Postel, president of the San Mateo County Historical Association, which has been operating Sanchez Adobe museum functions since Proposition 13 tightened county revenues in 1979.

The Sanchez Adobe is the county’s oldest building on public land. The Charles Brown Adobe on private land in Woodside is slightly older, and will also be undergoing restoration as part of a new housing development deal.

nfriedland@examiner.com

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