Rancho del Cielo

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Coordinates: 34°31′50″N 120°04′33″W / 34.530478°N 120.075932°W / 34.530478; -120.075932

Rancho del Cielo — the adobe house (center) that belonged to President and Mrs. Reagan, "Lake Lucky" (right), and the barn (center, partially hidden) for the horses.

Rancho del Cielo, or "Sky's Ranch" or "Heaven's Ranch," is a 688-acre (1.075 sq mi) ranch located atop the Santa Ynez Mountain range northwest of Santa Barbara, California. It served as a vacation home for President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.

History[edit]

The ranch was originally named Rancho de los Picos after José Jesús Pico—a descendant of Santiago de la Cruz Pico who arrived with the Anza expedition in 1776—who homesteaded it and built the original adobe house in 1871. The Pico family owned the ranch until 1941, when Joe, one of Jose Pico's sons, sold it to Frank Flournoy, a Santa Barbara County surveyor, for $6,000 (equal to $96,204 today). In turn, he sold the ranch to Roy and Rosalie Cornelius, who then purchased additional land for the property.

The Reagans bought the ranch from the Corneliuses for about $527,000 in 1974 (equal to approximately $2,520,000 today) when his second term as Governor of California was nearing an end. The estate contains a pond called Lake Lucky, stables and a barn for horses, and a 1,500 ft² (139 m²) house decorated with 1970s-style furniture. The ranch is located on the crest of the Santa Ynez Mountains adjacent to Refugio Pass. It can be reached from the ocean side of the mountains by the one-lane, paved Refugio Road from U.S. Route 101, and from the other side of the mountains by an unpaved, one-lane road from Solvang, California. At times, the dirt road is not passable during the rainy season.

Reagan spent vacations during his presidency at the ranch, which became known as the Western White House. He signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 at the ranch and at various times hosted British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. After leaving the presidency in 1989, the Reagans moved to a home in Bel-Air, California but kept the ranch as a retreat.

Because of his Alzheimer's disease, Reagan last visited the ranch in 1995. Mrs. Reagan last visited in 1998, before selling the property to the Young America's Foundation, a conservative group which preserves it today as what it calls "a living monument to Reagan's ideas, values, and lasting accomplishments." Although the ranch is closed to the public, Young America's Foundation offers students and supporters the opportunity to visit the property Reagan called "heaven."

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