Morgan Hill Today 2014 03 Spring - Page 32

A Historic Look at the Rhoades Ranch Rarely does one place have so much history and contemporary impact. The Rhoades Ranch is one of those places. There is evidence of early Indian inhabitants but the main focus of this article is the people, the buildings and impact on agriculture in California. Currently the property is a 12-acre site at the base of Anderson Dam. It was once part of a much larger 160-acre ranch. This property was subdivided from the 1860’s Mexican era Rancho Laguna Seca. On the current site there are five residential buildings, two barns, the remnants of a water tower, and small accessory garages and ancillary buildings. Oldest is the Phegley House built in the 1860s. While renovated in the twentieth century, the Phegley House maintains the distinctive 1860’s character and composition. It is a two-story National folk house with single-wall construction. The Phegley House is a sub-type of National folk houses know as I-Houses, characterized by two-story buildings two rooms wide and one deep, often with rear extensions. Another building of significance is the large Horse Barn also built around 1860. It is rectangular in size and one-and-one-half stories high. It is front and rear gabled with upstairs hay storage and sliding doors on both ends. The siding is a wide-board v-grove profile that is not usually found in Santa Clara County. The siding may represent a transition to channel-rustic siding, which became the norm soon thereafter. The windows are tall 6/6 double hung with thin mullions typical of the mid 1860s. Only the remnants of the pre-1920s water tower exist. The original siding and tank are gone. Early 1920s photos show the once large water tower. The Rhoades House and garage was finished in 1920 and was designed by the architectural firm of Hogtie and Hill. The house is an excellent example of the Spanish eclectic style that relates to the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The mostly square footprint surrounds an interior courtyard. A portion of the house has an L-shaped second story. There is a roof top deck accessible from the second floor. The roof is Spanish tile and a tile decorative feature wraps the house. The house sits in a grove of Oaks overlooking the former ranch property. Most windows are multipaned and with arched tops. Over the years, Rhoades Ranch occupants have had a significant impact on local, state and national issues. James F. Phegley (1838-1915), a rancher and early owner, served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors from 1887-1891. Ira Osborne (IO) Rhoades a former railroadpurchasing agent was involved in state leadership positions with the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association, which is now known as Sunsweet. The Rhoades family owned and operated the ranch from 1911 to 1945. Dr. Harold E. Thomas (1900-1986), who also lived in the Rhoades House, was a professor of plant pathology at the University of California. He founded and directed the non-profit Strawberry Institute of California. He is called the “Father of the California Strawberry Industry.” His commercial venture, Strawberry Institute Nursery, eventually merged with Driscoll Strawberry Associates. Dr. Thomas and his research assistant, Earl V. Goldsmith, changed the character and scope of strawberry production in California. Mr. & Mrs. James Phegley (circa 1910) 2014 Update: With the planned seismic retrofit to Anderson Dam and consequent rerouting of Cochran Road, it is very likely that the horse barn and some other buildings on the Rhoades Ranch will be relocated to new locations on the Rhoades Ranch. 32 M O R G A N H I L L T O D A Y S P R I N G 2 0 1 4