La Flecha House, circa 1925, Architect Lilian Rice on stairs. (Images © RSFHS)

From a Mexican Land Grant ~ Rancho San Dieguito
To a California Landmark ~ Rancho Santa Fe

“The community of Rancho Santa Fe reveals itself through layers of California history. History that moves from a Spanish pueblo, to a Mexican rancho, to an ambitious horticultural experiment gone awry, and finally to an inspired planned community. The very name Rancho Santa Fe (the namesake of the Santa Fe Railway) is a result of the marriage of these historical eras testifying to life in southern California during the 19th and 20th centuries. This extraordinary tract of land continues to convey its history even today.”

The above quote is from the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society’s most recent publication, Rancho Santa Fe, Arcadia Publishers (2010). The book illustrates the history of the Ranch through its chronological and historical periods.

HABS measured drawing, circa 1991.

Chapter 1: Rancho San Dieguito and the Osuna Legacy
Chapter 2: The Eucalyptus Experiment and a Change of Course
Chapter 3: Rancho San Dieguito becomes “Rancho Santa Fe”
Chapter 4: The Santa Fe Land Improvement Company
Chapter 5: The Architecture of Lilian J. Rice
Chapter 6. The People of Rancho Santa Fe
Chapter 7: The Protective Covenant

The Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society is known for its dedication to preserving, documenting, and educating members of the local community, and visitors, and has gained nationwide attention for its National Register listings of village core buildings designed by ranch architect Lilian Rice. The Society also invited the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) team to document and produce measured drawings of the village core as well. They can be viewed at the HABS website (CLICK HERE). Type in Rancho Santa Fe, you will be amazed at all the RSF drawings that are archived in the Library of Congress through the HABS program.

Pre-restoration ‘duplex’ configuration, circa 1991.

The Society published, Rancho Santa Fe: a California Village, which illustrated this very process of documentation. The HABS team, RSF Association members, RSF Historical Society members, and various experts are featured prominently in the book. Through historic and contemporary photographs the book captures the unique natural beauty and architectural qualities of one of California’s first planned communities. It goes on to describe Rancho San Dieguito, the original land grant of Don Juan Maria Osuna, ca. 1833; the brief Eucalyptus farm experiment; development of the original village and outlying areas by the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company, and the Rancho Santa Fe protective covenant in 1928, which continues to function with broad reaching powers and authority.