The Dallidet Family
Pierre Hypolite Dallidet was born in 1823 in southwest France. He enlisted in the French Army in 1843 and served in Tahiti before traveling to San Francisco to seek his fortune in the goldfields in 1850. He left the mines and headed south to Mexico. He stopped in San Luis Obispo and never left. Pierre became friends with the Salazar family, a local family that moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 1830s. Pierre married their daughter Ascension in 1855 and built his adobe adjacent to the Salazar adobe.
Two years after they married, Ascension and Pierre had a son, Pierre Hypolite Jr. Ascension would give birth to nine children in all before she died at the age of 32 soon after giving birth. Seven of the children reached adulthood. All were well educated, traveled, and interested in the arts and natural sciences. Pierre Sr. owned many properties, mining claims, farm and ranch lands, but is remembered most for starting the first commercial winery on the central coast.
Pierre Hypolite Dallidet, Jr.
“Hypo” was involved in speculative real estate investments and traveled extensively. In 1886, he married Dora Oldfield, but the marriage did not last and there were no children. He died at the adobe from a gunshot wound inflicted by his brother, Juan Bautista, after an argument with their father.
Louis Pascal Dallidet
Louis left three diaries detailing his life working on the family property and vineyard and studying accounting in San Francisco. He left San Luis Obispo to seek his fortune in the California goldfields but never returned. His last correspondence was sent from Tuolumne County, January 25, 1900. No death records are located in this county.
Died at one month of age.
Maria Ascencion (Cen) Dallidet
Known as “Cen” to her family, she studied art in San Francisco in the early 1890s. She was engaged to French archaeologist Leon de Cessac in 1878, but never married. Cen traveled with Rose to England in 1911. She died in the adobe.
Rose (Rosa) H. Dallidet
Rose never married and lived her entire life in the adobe with her brother, Paul. An accomplished woman, interested in music and botany, she had many friends and traveled. She died in the adobe.
Paul (Pablo) Dallidet
Paul was a volunteer fireman, oil field worker, bookkeeper and winemaker. He never married and lived most of his life in the adobe with his sister Rose.
Dolores Eliza Dallidet
Little is known about Eliza besides her interest in art and music. She died at age 33 in the adobe.
John (Juan) Bautista Dallidet
Juan was well liked in the community, but after shooting his brother Hypo in 1897 he left for Mexico. He spent the rest of his life there as a mining engineer. He married Maria Rincon and had two children Juan Dallidet Rincon and Asuncion Dallidet Rincon.
Died at four months of age. Ascencion Concepcion Salazar, her mother, died 2 days after Maria’s birth.
Built in 1856, the adobe was constructed half a floor above ground level to allow for the Frenchman’s wine cellar, a very unusual feature is not normally found in adobes in California. It was originally divided into three rooms with a corridor running from the main entrance to the opposite doorway leading down steps onto a porch. The attic space, reached by stairs just inside the front door, served as a bedroom for the boys. A summer house that was constructed beyond the porch at the rear of the adobe is thought to have been joined to the adobe portion.
Walls of adobe bricks were the best and cheapest building material in San Luis Obispo in the 1850s. At that time the lumber industry was not established locally, so support beams and floorboards were all hand hewn from local trees. Wood plank additions to the adobe were made as lumber materials became available when Post Hartford was built in Avila.
The Dallidet lands abutted a large tract known as the Old Mission Vineyard. Native plants such as toyon, sycamores, coast live oak, elderberry, willow and walnut flourished along the margins of creeks and springs and marshes that rarely ran dry. Almost immediately upon acquiring the land, Pierre Hypolite Dallidet began planting his vineyard and orchard. The Dallidet family lived on the property for over a century, and during the family’s early tenure the area surrounding the adobe was cultivated for food and farm crops.
The types of grapes and crops that Dallidet planted are specified in the 1882-1883 diary of Louis Pacal Dallidet. We know the family raised artichokes, melons, corn, parsley, passion vine, potatoes and had 14 acres of wine grapes, 3 acres of table grapes and 2 acres of peaches under cultivation on their farm by the late 1870s. They processed the grapes and made wine and later brandy within the confines of the present day garden. Grapes grown on the property included Black Hamburg, Chaibous, Kentucky, Magdelens, Malaga, Mission grapes, Muscat of Alexandra, Muscat (small), Rose of Peru, Sweet water, and White wine.
As family members aged, as economic and personal woes hit the family and as the city of San Luis Obispo grew around their holdings, the vineyard acreage became less tenable. By the early twentieth century, the grounds immediately surrounding the Dallidet home were becoming more of a garden than a farm. Trees planted by the family were maturing and shading out the grape arbors near the house even before 1900. These same trees had modified the garden’s climate enough to allow the introduction of “exotics” into the gardens. The family library provides plenty of evidence attesting to their interest and enthusiasm for all things botanical.
Today you can stroll the gardens today and see evidence of Victorian and early 20th-century interest in “new species” from exotic locations as well as those previously established in the area.