* Reprinted with permission
from Bob Behme
The Dreamer Who Owns Old Edna
By Bob Behme
Pattea Torrence and her husband, Jeff Kocan,
own a town, or more accurately they own the nearly 100-year old
of an historic 2-acre town site known as
Old Edna. You can find it at 1653 Old Price Canyon Road, facing Highway 227,
the busy back-country route that links San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach and Arroyo
Torrence is the town’s mayor, chief restorer, most ardent dreamer
and its biggest booster. A restored Old Edna is at the center of the dream
that is still
in the works.
“I’ve always had a love for town sites because I love architecture,
design and restoration,” Torrence said.
The land is located in historic Edna Valley, surrounded by outstanding
scenery, excellent vineyards, and layers of Central Coast history waiting
to be discovered.
The valley was the site of famous Mexican Ranchos and early California
farms and Old Edna fronts what is left of a stagecoach road that linked
Obispo and the south county. The magnificent narrow gauge Pacific Coast
through the property and one building is reputed to be the depot. Torrence
says she thinks of her town as “the hub of the Edna Valley wine country”.
resident of Shell Beach, Torrence came to the property after spending time
in San Luis Obispo where she operated Finder’s Keepers, a store that
specialized in consignment clothing. As business improved she expanded
her stock to include
antiques, but loading and unloading in the busy down town core became a
problem. Exasperated, she decided to sell.
A Central Coast native, Torrence
was raised in Los Berros. She attended
local schools, graduating from Arroyo Grande High in 1979. As a teenager
kept her horse at Old Edna and fell in love with the town while still
a girl. Her
father, Walter Torrence, is an engineer and is better known as “The
He worked at Vandenberg, and later became a Central Coast builder.
Pattea Torrence and Jeff Kocan met in Avila Beach. As she tells the story,
Pattea was driving with a girl friend who thought Avila would be good
place to meet
young men. As a friendly gesture Pattea said she’d go a long.
“As it turned out this great-looking guy walked past. He was handsome and
he wasn’t talking with all of the girls, the way his friends were,” Torrence
Jeff was employed at Diablo Canyon by a contractor who was there on
a temporary project. After courting and falling in love, Pattea realized
was scheduled to return home. The two were at a crossroads, but after
talking, Jeff said he
would stay. They were married. The couple has a six-year old son, Kienun.
“Jeff is my rock, that’s for sure,” Pattea said.
When it came time to leave San Luis Obispo, Torrence had Old
Edna in mind. At first the owners, Robert Wendt and Dennis Ahern,
were not interested
but Torrence persisted.
“Finally, I told them ‘I am almost 40 years old and this is the last
time I’ll ask. I really want you to know I will make this work,’” Torrence
With the help of developer Rob Rossi, a personal friend, Torrence
came up with an offer and the owners relented. Her purchase included
storefront near the highway, two homes, a storage room, a shed,
and a large barn, all in need of repair. Built between 1906 and
served as a family home, a store, a saloon, a blacksmith shop,
dance hall and a butcher shop. The original owner was John Tognazzini,
a local pioneer.
The tin-roofed building that fronts the highway was restored
by Torrence, her husband and her father in 1998 and as it stands
is a replica
of a tin-roofed
building that burned to the ground in 1906. Torrence converted
it into a gallery for her antiques. As business grew, the pressure
and displaying and marketing it, left little time to spend with
Torrence likes. She decided to close the store, rent the building
and to develop an empty residence that stood behind the store.
She began by renting the front building. Edy and Paul Fiala leased
the first floor and opened Fiala’s Gourmet Cafe. They serve
an array of sandwiches, soups and special dishes to locals on
their way to and from San Luis Obispo and
to travelers who pause to explore the town. Food is served at
tables inside the rustic building and on a shaded patio where
customers can relax to absorb the
special Old Edna atmosphere.
The second floor was once a dance hall, supposedly attracting
customers from as far away as Pismo Beach. It has been restored
to Paulina Burton,
a professional singer. The dominating feature is a 100-year
old stage on which an orchestra played the tunes of the day.
singers and offers students an experience that is difficult
to duplicate: they can sing and train on the old stage.
Torrrence had been considering the idea of opening a bed-and-breakfast
inn and while Edna is removed from major highways, the Tognazzini
had history and charm. It seemed made to order and she decided
to follow her instincts.
“It was a big step, but in order to attract people you
have to have a lot different things. Basically, I believe if
you build it, they will come”,
Torrence, her father, and Rick (a local craftsman) transformed
the 1200 square foot, three bedroom farmhouse by renovating
Outside they’ve kept the building’s
original lines while creating a French countryside ambience
that reminds Torrence of Provence. The home has been named “Suite
opened its doors in April.
As it is now converted, the building
has three bright and cheery suites, a single bath with
a marvelous claw-foot tub
large, cheery kitchen.
is an ideal weekend rental for an extended family or for
a single family and guests. Suite Grace has twp rooms with
two rooms with a king-sized feather bed and pillows. Suite
Pattea is a single room
with a double-sized feather bed. The large kitchen has
a modern stove, a country look and an old farm table roomy
a relaxed coffee
the welcoming front porch, a fenced and private garden
is just right for sunbathing, relaxing, or a BBQ.
The next project on Torrence’s agenda is a home for her, Jeff and Keinun.
She believes the old Blue-belly barn might be the perfect place. It is located
at the western edge of her property, is a perfect match for the rest of the town
and has a grand view of a world-class vineyard that rims the property. While
she has not finalized plans, Torrence wants to either convert the barn or to
use its materials. But, that’s still part of her dream.
Additional information is available by checking the website
oldedna.com or by calling 544-8062.