Colonel Thomas Finley Mitchell, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, moved a miner’s shack to Soledad and Sand Canyons in 1860 where he lived and headquartered his 160-acre ranch. After he married Martha Catherine Taylor in 1865, he constructed a large adobe, using parts of the miner’s shack.
After the Colonel had increased his holdings to 1,000 acres, Martha began the Sulphur Springs School in 1872, with classes being held regularly in the kitchen of the adobe. It moved to the Lang Hotel and Spa in 1879. The first students were from the Mitchell, Stewart and Lang families. In 1886, a regular school was built by John Lang and Sanford Lyon on land donated by the Mitchells.
By 1919, the old adobe had fallen into ruin, but was salvaged by the Colonel’s son-in-law, Walter Murphy. He used the remaining adobe bricks to erect a home for the ranch foreman. It later served as a guest house, apiary and tack room until it was destroyed by developers on August 14, 1986. What remained was moved to Heritage Junction, dedicated on November 5, 1989, and has been restored.
The adobe was originally 45 x 60 feet, and made of clay dug from a layer deep in a hand-dug well. The roof was covered with either split redwood shake or a very thin cedar shake. It had a wooden floor constructed of light-colored wainscoting.