A new off-ramp to the old Romaggi Adobe paves the way to the next stage needed to transform the 162-year-old structure into a history museum.
“This is the revival of the project,” said Angels Camp resident Adrian Nestor, who has dreamed of establishing the Romaggi Adobe’s Museum of Gold Rush Families since 2002. “I’ve always loved old buildings.”
And when Nestor first saw the Romaggi home during drives along Highway 49, he was struck by curiosity about the family that once lived and worked there. He set about gathering family history and tracked down descendants of the Gold Rush-era Italian immigrant family. Nestor found that after striking it rich in gold panning, James Romaggi built the structure that served as a residence to his family of eight and also served as a store, bar, winery, stagecoach stop and orchard.
Having discovered the building’s origins, Nestor gradually acquired ownership shares of the building and established the Romaggi Adobe Association, a nonprofit to acquire renovation funds for the old edifice.
Thus far, much of the accomplishments have involved research, paperwork and necessary maintenance. But the $30,000 off-ramp project has made a notable improvement to the challenging project.
“This kind of a project is called brick and mortar,” Nestor said. “To get somebody interested in an old building is very difficult.”
The off-ramp was funded by Romaggi’s great-great-grandson, who lives in Stockton. And the paving work was completed by K.W. Emerson Inc. of San Andreas.
“With all the work we’re going to do here, we’re going to try to keep the money in Calaveras County,” Nestor explained.
And now that an entrance is in place, a structural engineer can provide an estimate for building renovations. Nestor expects it will cost $400,000 to reconstruct the building enough to safely walk inside.
Nestor’s mission is not only to preserve the place but also the history of the family that dwelled within its walls.
“Notice how when you get together with friends and family, you always talk about what happened in the past,” he said. “That’s why history is so important. There’s that saying, ‘If you don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re going.’ I think there’s some truth to that.”
In the museum, Nestor hopes to house old relics of Gold Rush-era immigrant families. He already has a few secured from Romaggi descendants, such as a steel bowl from 1852 and a $10 gold piece.
“Little kids don’t get interested in where their grandparents came from, or even their parents,” he said. “We’re trying to get the young kids interested in their ancestry before it’s too late.”
For more information about the Romaggi Adobe Association, call 736-9522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.