Camarillo Ranch
Page 1 of 2

September 30, 2009
Posted December 18,  2009
© 2009, Herbert E. Lindberg

This page is part of a multi-tour visit with Walt and Hazel:


The second day we headed to Camarillo Ranch in Ventura County. The ranch has a long history dating back to the mid 19th century. Juan and Martina Camarillo were married in 1840 and moved to Ventura, California in 1854, becoming the fourth European family in the town. In 1876, Juan Camarillo bought the 10,000-acre (40 km2) Rancho Calleguas in eastern Ventura County from Jose Pedro Ruiz for $3,000 in gold. Rancho Calleguas remained in the Camarillo family until the 1960s, eventually becoming the City of Camarillo—named for the family. Juan Camarillo died in 1880, and Martina Camarillo in 1898. In 1891, Martina had deeded the Rancho to her sons, Adolfo and Juan Jr.  

Eventually, Adolfo Z. Camarillo (1864-1958) came to control the rancho and turned it into "the largest bean ranch in the world." Camarillo employed 700 workers on his ranch, and his production was so great that the Los Angeles Times reported in 1909 that, "through the enormous output of his ranch, [Camarillo] is, in a measure, able to set the price which the public must pay for beans." Adolfo Camarillo became one of the wealthiest landowners in the county, and in 1911 he was elected chairman of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. He also served as a member of the State Board of Agriculture. 

Shortly after receiving title to the Rancho from his mother in 1891, Adolfo Camarillo hired architects Herman Anlauf and Franklin Ward to build a 6,000-square-foot Queen-Anne style Victorian house. The house has two turrets, a large veranda and sprawling lawns. Adolfo also planted many varieties of trees, including eucalyptus trees, around the house. The Camarillo Ranch House, as it is now known, became the center of the sprawling Rancho Calleguas for the next 70 years. From the ranch house, Adolfo oversaw the Rancho's production of lima beans, walnuts, and citrus. The house also became known for the barbecues, rodeos and fiestas held by Adolfo. Adolfo lived in the three-story Victorian house until shortly before his death from pneumonia in December 1958

After his death, the stately home fell into disrepair, but in 1998, the City of Camarillo established the Camarillo Ranch Foundation, incorporated, as a nonprofit public benefit corporation. The City Council appointed a 15-member Board of Directors to operate the Foundation. In addition to the fifteen directors, the Foundation also includes two ex-officio members from the Camarillo City Council. The newly formed Board met on May 5, 1999, and has met monthly ever since. The current president of the foundation is Chuck Andrews, whom we met soon after completing our tour of the home.


Chuck Andrews, current President of the Camarillo Ranch Foundation Board of Directors


The 4.5-acre Camarillo Ranch was given to the City of Camarillo by the Centex Corporation in 1997. Centex had acquired the property from a member of the Camarillo Family. Along with the Ranch, the City also received the barn and stable on the adjacent property. In 1999, the City, working with Centex, moved the massive red barn and stable to their current locations on the Ranch. 

In 1999-2000, the City of Camarillo restored the exterior and foundation of the Camarillo House, including seismic retrofit upgrades, the installation of exterior lighting, a ranch style fence around the perimeter of the property, a new roof, and utilities. This renovation also included removing portions of the House that were not part of the original design. The gardens and exterior site features were also restored and interpreted into the museum complex. In the future, the Camarillo Ranch Foundation will be restoring the historic Ranch Barn.


Main entrance to the 3-story Queen Anne style Victorian "ranch house."

Turrets and balcony

We walked up these stairs and into the ranch house.

This is the lobby at the base of the turret.

Docent Nedra Kindig began our tour with a brief history of the Camarillo brothers. She is standing next to a bust of Adolfo.

One of the living areas

One of the upstairs bedrooms

Docent Nedra shows a Camarillo family photo to Sherrie, Hazel, Walt and Dick (left to right).

Enraptured expressions

Hall and living area viewed from dining room. The stairway goes up to bedrooms.

Same orientation, but from end of dining room

Breakfast nook in the kitchen

Kitchen cabinets, decorated for Halloween

Continue to Page 2   |   Home