Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center

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Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center
Orcutt Ranch gate.jpg
Orcutt Ranch gate, September 2008
Location23555 Justice Street, West Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Coordinates34°13′07″N 118°38′26″W / 34.21861°N 118.64056°W / 34.21861; -118.64056Coordinates: 34°13′07″N 118°38′26″W / 34.21861°N 118.64056°W / 34.21861; -118.64056
Area210-acre (0.85 km2)
Architectural style(s)Spanish Colonial Revival Style
Governing bodyCity of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks
DesignatedJanuary 22, 1965[1]
Reference no.31
Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center
Location of Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center in the Los Angeles metropolitan area

The Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center, formally known as Rancho Sombra del Roble, is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM #31) located in the West Hills section of Los Angeles, California, USA.

William Orcutt's vacation home[edit]

Gazebo in the main courtyard - 25 April 2011

Orcutt Ranch was the vacation and retirement estate of William Warren Orcutt, an early pioneer of oil production in California and the discoverer of one of the first prehistoric skeletons at the La Brea Tar Pits.[2][3] The Rancho Sombra del Roble, Spanish for "Ranch of the Shaded Oak", was originally a 210-acre (0.85 km2) cattle ranch and citrus orchard at the foot of the Simi Hills.[4] Orcutt bought the property in 1917,[5] and hired architect L.G. Knipe (who designed some of the original campus structures of Arizona State University) to design his home on the ranch. The 3,060-square-foot (284 m2) residence, in the blend of Spanish Colonial Revival Style and Mission Revival Style architecture, was completed in approximately 1926. It features glazed tiles from Mexico and carved mahogany and walnut from the Philippines.[6] Visitors are surprised to find that the design of the home prominently incorporates bas-relief Swastika architectural decoration.[5] Mary Orcutt, William's wife, chose the symbol due to its connection with Native American traditions, and did so before the Nazis turned it into a symbol of anti-Semitism and genocide.[5] President Herbert Hoover, who was a friend of the Orcutts, visited the ranch.[6]

Acquisition and operation by the City[edit]

Plaque designating Rancho Sombra del Roble

A 24-acre (10 ha) portion of the original estate, including the residence, gardens, oaks and citrus orchard, was designated as a Historic-Cultural Monument in January 1965. Those 24 acres (10 ha) were purchased by the City of Los Angeles in 1966 for $400,000.[5] The city-owned property includes a Spanish-style adobe residence, extensive gardens, oak trees hundreds of years old, Dayton Creek, nature trails, fruit orchards, rose gardens, community garden plots, picnic tables and a multitude of exotic trees, plants and shrubs.[5] Some of the more unusual trees found at the ranch are Purple Lily Magnolias, Lady Palms ( Raphis excelsus ) native to Asia, Bunya Bunyas ( Araucaria bidwillii ) evergreen native to Australia with cones weighing up to 15 pounds (7 kg)), Cork Oaks ( Quercus suber ), and one of the many Coast Live Oaks ( Quercus agrifolia ) measuring 32 feet (10 m) in circumference, believed to be 700 years old.[2][3][6][7] For 53 years (1927–1980), Ernest Conrejo was employed as the property's caretaker and gardener. Cornejo was hired at age 17 to plant and tend to the exotic trees and plants.[8]

The Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department operates Orcutt Ranch,[9] which is available to be rented for special events. It is also opened up for popular public fruit picks.[7][10][11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Los Angeles Department of City Planning (September 7, 2007). "Historic-Cultural Monuments (HCM) Listing: City Declared Monuments" (PDF). City of Los Angeles. Retrieved May 29, 2008. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ a b Doug Smith (December 25, 1975). "Groups to Conduct Tours of Orcutt Ranch Center". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ a b William S. Murphy (November 25, 1982). "Valley Digest; Places to Go Orcutt Site Keeps '20s in Bloom". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Judson Grenier (Editor-in-chief) (1978). A Guide to Historic Places in Los Angeles County, p. 102. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8403-7501-8. {{cite book}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  5. ^ a b c d e Gary Klein (December 31, 1993). "The Land Progress Forgot: William Orcutt's vacation home is now owned by Los Angeles, but it still is a good place to get away from it all". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Ira Gribin (September 13, 1981). "Gardens, artifacts at Orcutt Ranch in Canoga Park; ORCUTT RANCH CENTER". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ a b Roselle M. Lewis (August 1, 1987). "$1 a Bag, $2 a Box for Citrus You Pluck at Orcutt Ranch". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ Martha L. Willman (May 11, 1980). "Caretaker Loses 'Lifetime' Home; Caretaker Loses 'Lifetime' Home at Orcutt Ranch Park". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ la parks
  10. ^ "Hundreds Turn Out to Pick Citrus; Plenty Is Left". Los Angeles Times. July 21, 1983.
  11. ^ Miguel Bustillo (August 20, 1999). "Valley Roundup: West Hills; Fruit Pick Planned Saturday at Orcutt Ranch". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Sarah Torribio-Bond (July 8, 2000). "Valley Roundup: West Hills; Annual 'Fruit Pick' to Begin Today". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]