Did you know… that the Ortega Chili Company got its start in Ventura?
The Ortega Adobe is an architectural example of smaller adobe homes that once sat on either side of San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura. The adobe stood in sharp contrast to the residences of many of the wealthy landowners that lived nearby.
It was within this small little adobe that, in 1897, Emilio Ortega first began fire-roasting chilies in his mother’s kitchen. He used the roasted chilies to make his Spanish Ortega Chili Sauce. Ortega Chili is believed to be the first commercial food operation of its kind in not only Ventura but California.
Residents of today, surrounded by commodities of our day, have no idea of the hardships gone through by our predecessors.
A flood in 1866 nearly destroyed the adobe and caused major damage and washed away the western half of the home away. The Ortega children spent days searching along the river’s mouth and beach area in search of family belongings that had been washed away. The business was later moved to Los Angles due to need of larger production space.
By the turn of the century, a small Chinese community was established near the adobe. The Ortegas sold their property to Ung Hing in 1905 and the house continued to be used for a brief time. Later, in 1921, it became property of the City of Ventura.
The little adobe has seen many lives over the years as a boardinghouse, restaurant, office building, police department, Shell Oil Co building as well as a meeting place for the Ventura Boys and Girls Club.
In 1969 the Ortega Adobe was almost demolished but a small group of locals along with the city stepped in to restore the space.
Sources, images: City of Ventura, Ortega Chili