West Valley Garden Club has met at Orcutt Ranch since 1967. Mrs. Richard Jackson (Wynifred) was club president the prior two years and was instrumental in the search for a permanent meeting place. She was a 50 year member of our club prior to passing away in 2012. She had joined in 1959. Wynifred wrote the following history of Mr. and Mrs. Orcutt, the Ranch and our locating there based on her extensive knowledge of the subject.
Orcutt Ranch is a secluded garden paradise nestled in the foothills of the West San Fernando Valley. This picturesque Spanish style estate is accented by marble statuary, citrus groves and towering oaks. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Now known as Historical Monument #31, the following history appears on the website for Los Angeles Parks: http://www.laparks.org/. (Search for Orcutt Park Ranch to find photos and more information.)
Orcutt Ranch was built in 1921 and was the vacation residence of William and Mary Orcutt. William Orcutt was the Vice President of Union Oil. He was in the first graduating class of Stanford University in 1891. Mary Orcutt was instrumental in the development of the Guadalupe Center. Mrs. Orcutt also served as an Olympic hostess in 1932 with a reception in the gardens. The estate was known as Rancho Sombre del Roble, which means “ranch shaded by the oak.” The original home contained 3060 square feet of floor space with adobe walls, and the grounds consisted of 200 acres. Today 24 acres remain with beautiful valley and coastal live oaks, over 500 rose bushes, a citrus grove of oranges and grapefruit which are harvested each season by visiting public, and an area of garden plots available to members of the community.
Other plants include specimen trees of California Sycamore; Dogwood; Sago Palm; Chinese Wisteria; Deodar Cedar; Lady, Rattan and Fern Palms; Coral Tree and Tabebuia.
A life size sculpture of the Three Graces is found toward the rear of the rose garden. There is also a large sun dial on which are described the words CARPE DEUM.
Mr. Orcutt summed it up with a carving over the main fireplace: “MEAN WELL, SPEAK WELL, AND DO WELL.”
In our West Valley Garden Club archives, the 1997-1998 Yearbook celebrating our 50th Anniversary, it says: “The Superintendent of LA City Parks and Recreation attended the November 1966 meeting. He announced that Orcutt Ranch was now ready for club meetings and invited our club to be the first organized group to meet there. This invitation was accepted and the January 1967 meeting was held at Orcutt. It was formally agreed at that meeting that our location would now be Orcutt Ranch Park. This account was written by Wynifred Jackson.