Anza Trail Blog

Roberto-Sunol Adobe Acquired by California Pioneers of Santa Clara County

Tagged as:   California , Historic Sites , Santa Clara County

Roberto-Sunol Adobe

San Jose has only two extant adobes, one of which is the Roberto-Sunol Adobe at 770 Lincoln Avenue in the Willow Glen neighborhood.

In May 2013, the owners donated the adobe to the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County who will create a museum for the benefit of the public. The adobe is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This is a unique opportunity for our community to enjoy a museum that will showcase the five major eras of our valley’s history, with all eras being represented in a very tangible way at the site,” said Superior Court Judge Paul Bernal, an Anza Expedition descendant who is also the official histo- rian of San Jose and the president of the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County.

“The museum will highlight the 1775-76 Anza expedition and its significant impact upon California.”

The Tamyen Ohlone lived in what was later called Willow Glen for thousands of years. Following the Anza expedition of 1775-76 and the founding of San Jose, the lands became part of Mission Santa Clara, used for grazing sheep and raising pigs.

An Indian named Roberto Balermino built the Roberto Adobe around 1836, and it was later occupied by Antonio Maria Sunol, who had lived nearby with his wife, Maria Dolores Bernal, and their children. Sunol built a brick house adjoining the adobe, the first brick building completed in Alta California. The residence entertained members of the first California Legislature.

By the 1970s, the adobe was under the possession of the Bruzzone family. When John Bruzzone, Sr., learned how unique the adobe and adjoining Laura Ville home were, he spent three years and $300,000 restoring them to their earlier glory. Law offices rented the property until 2012.

In May 2013, the three children of the late Julia and John Bruzzone, Sr., sought a reliable historic organization to take possession of the property, in keeping with the Bruzzones’ love of local history. They chose the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County. 

The California Pioneers of Santa Clara County was created in 1875 in San Jose to celebrate those pioneers who came before us. It was founded with about 450 members. Today, the organization is proud to still have about 450 members. For more information, visit



Roberto-Sunol Adobe
Photo Credit: California Pioneers of Santa Clara County

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