Though students may not see it, there is a house on the top right of the hill on Grand Avenue at the entrance of Cal Poly. Behind its white pillared gate is a 103-year-old woman who has watched Cal Poly change for generations with family.
Although it is close to Cal Poly, the house is private property and is patrolled by Cal Poly security, according to Mrs. Avila’s daughter Pat Auyong.
In 1976, the Mustang Daily wrote a feature on Mrs. Josephine and Mr. Frank Avila who lived in that house with their kids. Forty years later, Josephine Avila who has no relation to Avila Beach, still lives there with family.
The house was built in 1921 and purchased by the Garcias in 1925. The property used to consist of 125 acres that spanned from the administration building to the tennis courts. On the property there was a barn, a hay storage and cattle. The house was passed down through the Garcia family to Mrs. Avila, who lived there when the farmland surrounded the house, according to Auyong.
The Garcias came into this house because the prior owners wanted to sell the house as soon as possible, according to Auyong.
Avila, though 103 years old, is in great health. She moves around the house, watches sports on her television, stays active and plays with her three dogs everyday.
Also approximately 100 years old, the Spanish-style house hasn’t changed much over the years, except for some remodeling to add two more bedrooms and expand the kitchen.
Remodeled or not, every room in the house has one thing in common: a fireplace. Many years ago, heating was unheard of and fireplaces were the main source of heating. The house has heating now, but the old fireplaces remain in every room.
In 1958, Cal Poly took a half-acre at the end of the Avila’s driveway to create the main Cal Poly Grand Avenue entrance.
Karl Kohlenberg wrote the Mustang Daily article in 1976. His statement that “(because of the) onslaught of progress and the increasing size of Cal Poly, the once huge Garcia homestead has become nominal in size,” rings true to this day.
In the ’70s, students created their own water slide with the water tank they found near the driveway on Avila’s property, according to Auyong. They didn’t know that the water was part of Avila’s water supply for the house. Mr. Avila told the students it was their water supply, and students apologized. There have been few incidents of trespassing since Mr. Avila talked to them.
“The big thing about (the house) is it’s still homey and warm,” Auyong said.