Rancho Buena Vista Chapter

Vista, California

Rancho Buena Vista Adobe

Rancho Buena Vista Adobe Gate Rancho Buena Vista Adobe Fountain

From informational sheet available at the Adobe:

"Rancho Buena Vista is the best-preserved of the fabled land-grant ranchos. The entire area imparts a sense of history and an aura of the romance of Early California. The hacienda is a single-story adobe brick structure in the Monterey style, set on a two-foot thick cobblestone foundation. It looks much as it did over 150 years ago, with no significant architectural alterations having been made to affect its historical integrity, though over the years electricity and other amenities have been added, including bathrooms, interior plastering, and hardwood and tile floors. (In the days of the Dons the dirt floors were strewn with Persian carpets.)

The original land grant of 1,184 acres was issued in 1845 by Governor Pio Pico to Felipe Subria, a Luiseno Indian and Christian convert. He later deeded it to his daughter Maria La Garcia Dunn (thus the “D” brand) for $1.00. The Dunns eventually lost it to Jesus Machado to satisfy a debt of $8.00. When Jesus was killed in an Indian uprising in Mexico, his son inherited the rancho. He in turn lost it in a bank foreclosure, and in 1860 the title went to Lorenzo Soto, a prominent Los Angeles businessman and politician, who “struck it rich” gold prospecting. After Soto’s death, his wife married Thomas Alvardo and they sold the Rancho to Cave Johnson Couts for $3,000 in 1866.

Cave Couts was married to Ysidora Bandini, the beautiful daughter of a prominent San Diego family. He was the nephew of Cave Johnson, a senator from Tennessee, who was a personal friend of President Polk. Cave was appointed to West Point and came to California as an Army lieutenant. The Couts were known for their parties and ranchers came from all over to attend their fiestas. Couts also owned the surrounding Guajome, Vallecitos de San Marcos, and Las Milpitas ranchos.

In 1874 Couts’ widow, Ysidora, gave the Rancho Buena Vista to their daughter, Maria Antonia, and attorney Chalmers Scott as a wedding present. They remodeled the adobe and planted citrus orchards and the vineyard. They entertained lavishly and eleven children were born there. Their real estate holdings throughout the county grew along with Mr. Scott’s law practice, so they moved into San Diego and Maria deeded the Rancho to her sister, Ysidora, who had married a Los Angeles judge named George Fuller. It was Ysidora and her husband who added the board and batten kitchen and dining area, making the hacienda u-shaped.

During the ensuing years the rancho was subjected to many boundary disputes and legal entanglements which were finally settled in favor of the Couts heirs. It was in 1886 that the Vista Land Company acquired a sizeable portion of land and the city was laid out. The Rancho, which had surveyed out to 4,269 acres when Couts owned it, had dwindled down to 51 acres.

In 1920, F.J. Knight purchased the property and gave Wildwood Park to the city for the 350 residents of Vista to enjoy. The Knights had spent a great deal of money to refurnish the adobe so when Harry Pollard, an MGM producer, and his beautiful wife, Marguerita Fischer Pollard, a popular silent screen star, saw the rancho, they loved it. The Pollards spent in excess of $150,000 to renovate it into “the most beautiful home in San Diego County.”  During the Pollard’s ownership from 1931 to 1951, a landscape architect named Arthur Fields took great pride in the orchards and gardens, making it a beautiful retreat for the film stars from Hollywood.  Joan Crawford, a frequent visitor, gave the Pollards the magnolia tree which majestically stands today in the main courtyard.

There were 5,000 residents in Vista in 1951 when Mrs. Pollard sold the Rancho to Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Ried of Las Vegas for a summer home. He was a petroleum geologist and partner of the Golden Nugget Casino and paid $85,000 for the remaining eight acres. They modernized the adobe and used it as a summer home for six years.

In 1957 Dr. and Mrs. Walter Weil purchased the Rancho. He was an ophthalmologist from Toluca Lake. They furnished the Adobe with a collection of antique European furniture and paintings. Mrs. Anastasia Weil and Margarita Fisher Pollard both became founders of the Vista Ranchos Historical Society.

The Weils sold to Rudd and Sally Schoeffel in 1972. After rehabilitating Cliff May houses in Point Loma, the Schoeffels were drawn to rural Vista to raise their four children. The Schoeffels developed the professional complex that is adjacent to the Rancho. They brought in the Rancho’s driveway bricks from an Alcohol Beverage Control building in Salt Lake City that was being demolished.

In 1989, the City of Vista acquired the Rancho for the citizens of Vista. The Rancho Buena Vista Adobe is an historic treasure for the residents to share with the world and protect for further generations. The Friends of the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe formed a non-profit group committed to help safeguard and share the city’s heritage, foster civic pride, and promote educational activities for all ages. The Friends of the Rancho are responsible for all of the furnishings in the home. The furnishings were acquired by generous individual donations. The Friends of the Rancho are always looking for donations, members, and volunteers. If interested please call (760) 726-1340 ext. 1522.

Today the hacienda and grounds are open for guided tours led by docents who recount the history and colorful legends of the Rancho.

Tours are conducted Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:15 p.m."