The Guthrie-Bianchini House

Mr. and Mrs. Clendinen
Mr. and Mrs. Clendinen

One of Cambria's oldest homes is the Guthrie-Bianchini House, built in 1870 by Thomas Clendinen. Now the home of the Cambria Historical Museum, this lovely old building sits on the corner of Burton Drive and Center Street in Cambria's East Village. The original house, a small "salt box," was sold in 1882 to Benjamin Franklin (rumored to be a relative of THE Benjamin Franklin).

Mr. Franklin added on to the house and within a year sold it to Mrs. Sarah Guthrie, who made the purchase with her own money. Her husband, Samuel Guthrie, was a successful businessman who was employed by and later owned the Grant & Lull Store on the corner of Bridge and Main streets. Mr. Guthrie retired in 1903 and died two years later. His wife kept the house until 1916 when she sold it to Eugenio Bianchini, a Swiss immigrant who arrived by steamer at the port of San Simeon in 1878.

Eugenio Bianchini In 1889, Mr. Bianchini (pictured left) married Louisa Bezzini, and they had seven children, four boys and three girls. Over the years, he was a dairyman, owned butcher shops in Cayucos and Cambria, and worked at the Oceanic Quicksilver Mine. He was known as the "master of the barbecue," and he reportedly "imported" whisky from Canada, picking it up by boat north of San Simeon and selling it during Prohibition. He also owned at least two ranches, one of which was at the mouth of Pico Creek and today is known as San Simeon Acres.

Sarah and Samuel Guthrie

Sarah and Samuel Guthrie

After Mr. Bianchini's death, family members continued to live in the house. His son, James, widely known as "Spider," was the last Bianchini to occupy the home. From 1971, the house remained unoccupied and sank into disrepair as heirs and other interested parties fought over the estate. In the early 1980s, some Cambria businessmen sought to have the house torn down and replaced with a parking lot.

Guthries-Bianchini House

But, community opposition and the discovery that the property had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places squelched the parking lot idea. The Cambria Historical Society purchased the property at a court-ordered sale in 2001, ending what has been referred to as "the state's longest probate." The Society spent years restoring the home and then opened it as a museum in December 2008.