La Casa Grande

20 East Spain Street Sonoma, California 95476 Map

General Vallejo's first home, La Casa Grande, was one of the most imposing, and well-furnished private residences in California. It stood in the middle of the block with its wide second-story balcony overlooking the plaza. Although the house was not finished until 1840, there is reason to believe that a portion of it was completed late in 1836 in time for Vallejo's second daughter to be born there on January 3, 1837. In all, eleven Vallejo children were born in the house. Over the years, along with numerous Vallejo relatives, and a continual stream of distinguished visitors from many parts of the world, they helped to make La Casa Grande the center of social and diplomatic life north of San Francisco Bay. About 1843, General Vallejo added a three-story adobe tower to the southwestern corner of the house. From this vantage point it was possible to look out over several miles of the Sonoma Valley. An adobe wall connected the tower and Salvadore Vallejo's house to the west.

It was in La Casa Grande on the morning of June 14, 1846 that the general, his brother Salvadore, and his brother-in-law Jacob Leese, were confronted by leaders of the Bear Flag Party, and following several hours of negotiations, were taken prisoner and sent to Sutter's Fort for detention.

Later the ground floor of La Casa Grande was used as a retail store, city council chamber, and for other purposes until 1854 when the entire house was turned over to the Reverend John L. Ver Mehr for use as a girl's school. Originally built in an L-shape, the main wing of the house was destroyed by fire on February 12, 1867, leaving only the low two-story servants' wing which is still standing today.