The historic home once owned by the man after whom Moraga is named has undergone various changes since 1841. Once a modest dwelling, the Joaquin Moraga Adobe was renovated and expanded in the 1940s by a prominent California family, but is now vacant and in disrepair.
According to historians, the adobe was built in 1841 and served as the residence of Joaquin Moraga, whose grandfather Jose Joaquin Moraga founded the presidio and mission of San Francisco.
Historians believe Moraga asked for a land grant after a law was passed in Mexico in 1828 authorizing them in exchange for lengthy unpaid military service. A grant was finalized in 1841 and made Moraga co-owner of Rancho Laguna de los Palos Colorados, which included parts of modern-day Orinda, Moraga and Lafayette.
Built in 1841, the adobe was a three-room house that overlooked a valley and large cattle ranch. It was enlarged seven years later and in 1885, 30 years after Moraga's death, was acquired along with most of the rancho by Horace W. Carpentier.
James Irvine bought the property in 1912. Katherine Brown White Irvine converted the old adobe into a modern house, encasing its walls in stucco. After her death, the home was occupied by William Thorton White II and sold to the Manuel family in 1965, and to Dean Claxton in 1975.
The adobe became a California Registered Landmark in 1954 and was placed on the Register of National Historical Places in 1972. It became an official Orinda landmark in 1995.
The adobe and surrounding acreage was purchased in 2008 by J&J Ranch, LLC. Residents and members of various historical societies and groups have requested that the owners restore the adobe, which has since been vandalized, and convert it into a museum and public educational resource.
Plans to develop 20 acres surrounding the structure and turn it into a private clubhouse were approved Oct. 9 by the Orinda City Council.