This house is typical of the home of an average rancher in the Conejo Valley during the years 1874‑1890. The building represents the home of Mr. and Mrs. Egbert Starr Newbury who were among the first settlers in the Conejo (1874‑1877). Mr. Newbury was the area's first postmaster, and Newbury Park bears his name. The Newbury's original home was located near the site of the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks. The size and floor plan of the house were derived from Mr. Newbury’s letters and from a painting of their home by Mrs. Newbury. The original oil painting, which was donated by a descendant, is on display in the museum.
This adobe home, built in 1976, represents one that could have been on the Conejo Rancho in the early 1800s, occupied by the family of a vaquero tending cattle.
The overhanging roof construction provided protection against the sun and rain. It also provided a long porch on one side where family and friends could gather. The women had shade for grinding corn and grains as well as for sewing or weaving.
Baking was done outside in a beehive-shaped oven called a hornista. At night coals from the oven provided heating for the house. They were placed in a large thick bowl made from cottonwood that was set in a far corner of the room. Since there were generally only one or two windows and a door, the house soon became warm. The house, with walls an average of two to three feet thick, was cool in the summer and easy to heat in the winter.
The simple furnishings for the home were hand made. Basic articles were a table with two benches, made of either pine or redwood, and a bed. The bed was a four-poster with a spring of cowhide and a mattress made of woven material and stuffed with grasses or straw. The cover was usually woven wool with a design in blue-‑the sacred color of Mexico. There was always a crucifix hanging above the bed as well as a picture of the family's patron saint.
The only eating utensils were wooden spoons. The head of the household used his hunting knife to cut the meat for all. Dishes were of red pottery decorated with designs and those intended to hold hot foods were always glazed. Each individual usually had a hot chocolate cup which bore his name.
Food was always in abundance. Vegetables, fruit, wheat, maize and corn were raised for home consumption. The popular diet was beef, beans, and tortillas. All of the food was seasoned with homegrown peppers, fresh or dried according to the season. Dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, and eggs were very rare.
Food was stored in woven baskets. Water was stored in a large unglazed pottery jar and hung outside where it remained cool. Inside the house, wooden or leather trunks were used for storage of clothes. The basic necessities of these first settlers included a metate with a mano used for grinding corn and grain, a small mortar and pestle used for grinding chili peppers and chocolate, and candles for lighting.