I took some clients to the Santa Lucia Preserve this weekend to look at both lots and finished homes for sale. It is a truly beautiful place. To most folks “The Preserve” brings to mind the award winning Tom Fazio golf course and the exceptional homes that are found behind the Preserve gate. However, for those with homes and lots within the 20,000 acres “The Preserve” describes much more.
A Bit of History
Before the arrival of the Spanish missionaries, the area served as grazing grounds for the Ohlone Indians of the Monterey Bay area. What would become the Santa Lucia Preserve was formed as the San Carlos Ranch through Mexican land grants in the 1830s. The original ranch worked thousands of cattle and was home to hundreds of horses, the vaqueros (cowboys), and Native Americans that herded and tended the cattle.
In the mid 1920s George Gordon became the owner and began its transformation into a destination for the more affluent members of his generation. He constructed polo fields and created a lake for his guest’s enjoyment.
Although prohibition was in full swing, Mr. Gordon felt obliged to provide his guests with only the finest liquor, most extravagant entertainment, and even Russian boars for the hunting inclined. It is said that Mr. Gordon entertained the rich and powerful, and their hangers on, because he loved to do so, and it was an effective way of collecting new investors into his various endeavors, and keeping his current ones happy.
Writing in 1963 to Stuyvesant Fish, proprietor of the neighboring ranch, Mr. Gordon explained the long route by which he introduced Russian Boar to the Monterey Peninsula in the early 1920s. The swine had originally been brought by Mr. Gordon to the United States to be hunted in Graham County, North Carolina before World War I. When he bought the San Carlos Ranch he imported nine sows and three boar to California and established the population that mated with feral pigs and has descendants today that range throughout central California.
As the decade wound down and Moore’s financial dealings faltered he was forced to sell the ranch to Arthur C. Oppenheimer of Salinas. Mr. Oppenheimer returned the property to cattle ranching and owned it until its sale to the Rancho San Carlos Partnership in 1990 and the beginning of its transformation into the Santa Lucia Preserve.