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Olompali State Historic Park: Wikis


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Olompali State Historic Park
Location Marin County, California, USA
Nearest city Novato, California
Coordinates 38°9′9″N 122°34′11″W / 38.1525°N 122.56972°W / 38.1525; -122.56972Coordinates: 38°9′9″N 122°34′11″W / 38.1525°N 122.56972°W / 38.1525; -122.56972
Area 700 acres (2.8 km2)
Governing body State of California

Olompali State Historic Park is a 700-acre (2.8 km2) park on the Marin Peninsula, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north of Novato, California, USA, which overlooks the Petaluma River and San Pablo Bay. In 1977, the State of California purchased Rancho Olómpali and made it into a state historical park. The foundations of two prehistoric adobe brick houses are preserved in the park. The Burdell two-story frame house, built in the 1870s serves as the ranger station. Associated ranch buildings include barns, a blacksmith shop, a saltbox house and a ranch superintendent's house.



The park is the site of the oldest house built north of the San Francisco Bay (California Historical Landmark #210), built in 1776 of adobe bricks by the Chief of the Olompolli tribe.[1] Camillo Ynitia was also the only Native American on the northern frontier to confirm and keep a large land grant for his tribe.[1]



Prehistoric and Native American era

The name "Olompali" comes from the Coast Miwok language and likely means "southern village" or "southern people".[2] The Coast Miwok village site of Olompali (historically spelled "Olompolli") dates back to about 500 AD.[3] Olompali had been a main center in 1200 A.D., and might have been the largest native village in Marin County[2] For more, see Olompali.

An Elizabethan silver sixpence minted in 1567 was discovered in the park by archeologists, indicating that villagers may have had contact with Sir Francis Drake or with people who had traded with the early English explorer.[3] Many Miwok cultural artifacts have been identified during archaeological studies within the area of the present-day park, indicating this may have once been an important trade and cultural crossroads.

Robert C. Thomas author of Drake at Olompali, 1979, attempts to prove in the book that Sir Francis Drake actually landed at Olompali and encountered the Coast Miwok natives there, not at the Drakes Bay site.[4]

The oldest house built north of the San Francisco Bay was built here in 1776 by the Coast Miwok, out of adobe bricks, and owned by the chief of the Olompoli tribe Aurelio, who was the father of Camillo Ynitia. Camillo was known as the last Hoipu (Headman) of the Miwok community living at Olompali.[1]

Mexican-American era

In 1843, with the helpful petition of General Vallejo[1], the Governor Manuel Micheltorena of Alta California granted this land to Camillo Ynitia, the acting Hoipu (Headman) of the village:

"Olompali #48, Marin Co., Grant of 2 sq. leagues made in 1843 by Gov. Micheltorena to Camilo Unitia [sic]. Patent for 8,877.48 acres (35.9259 km2) issued in 1862 to Camilo Unitia [sic] in T 3-4N, R 6-7W, MDM."

California Ranchos: Patented Private Land Grants Listed by County, Shumway 1988:39

The newly secured deed of Olompali Rancho included Ynitia's father's historical house, the first abobe house built north of the San Francisco Bay, as well as his own adobe house.

Ynitia's adobe house was the site of the Battle of Olompali in June 1846 during the Bear Flag Revolt.[3]

Ynitia held onto the Olompali land title for 9 years, but in 1852 he sold most of the land to James Black of Marin for $5,200.[2][3] Black was to become one of the largest landowners of Marin county.[2] Ynitia retained 1,480 acres (6.0 km2) of Olompali called Apalacocha.

The Blacks and Burdells

In 1863, the land and adobe house passed from James Black to his daughter Mary (Black) Burdell and her husband Galen Burdell, a wealthy dentist.[1][3] Mary's son James transformed Olompali into a country estate, he built a 26-room mansion with a formal Victorian-style mansion that incorporated the foundations and rooms of Ynitio's adobe house.[2][5]

Jesuit retreat, commune and state park

The land and estate was eventually sold by the Burdell family to Court Harrington. Harrington in turn sold it to the University of San Francisco, to be used as a Jesuit retreat.[2][3]

"During the 1960s, the University of San Francisco sold Olompali several times. Each time, the buyers defaulted and the property reverted back to the university. The most famous tenant was the rock band Grateful Dead. During the Dead's brief stay it became a gathering place for San Francisco's rock musicians, including Janis Joplin and Grace Slick."[2]

In 1967, Don McCoy leased Olompali, and started a hippie commune there called The Chosen Family. A fire caused by faulty wiring eventually destroyed the mansion. Finally in 1977, the State of California purchased the land and turned it into the state park.[3][2]


Olompali State Historic Park is located at 8901 Redwood Hwy., State Hwy 101 (P.M. 24.8), 3.5 miles (5.6 km) N of Novato. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Rancho Olompali.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e University of California Irvine Camillo Ynitia, Coast Miwok (1803-1856) - Catholic, Rancho Grant Owner
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Reutinger 1997.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Olompali State Historic Park, Website 2008.
  4. ^ Thomas 1979.
  5. ^ Mason, Jack. Early Marin. Petaluma, CA: House of Printing, 1971.
  6. ^ Search on NR.NPS.GOV website for Rancho Olompali



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