Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Captain and the Tar Pits

When the words "French sea captain" and "Los Angeles" are mentioned in the same sentence, the name of former Mayor Joseph Mascarel comes to mind (for those of us who know local history, anyway).

But there were others.

One other French sea captain (and there were a few) who settled in Los Angeles was Charles Baric.

Captain Baric and his wife Sophie lived in the Plaza, close to the Old Plaza Church.

In early LA, roofs were commonly made of clay and reed wattle. In spite of the mild climate, they did still have to be waterproofed, and tar did the trick. One of the biggest sources of tar, if not THE biggest, was the La Brea Tar Pits. At one point, Captain Baric owned the land where the tar pits are located, and sold tar for roofing purposes. (Who understands the importance of waterproofing better than someone responsible for a ship?)

Records on Captain Baric are scarce (even came up with nothing), but we do know he arrived in Los Angeles in 1834, was often called "Don Carlos", was a trader in addition to a ship's captain, and supported the Americans in the Mexican-American War.

The Barics' adobe home was later demolished to make way for a mixed-use building called the Plaza House.

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