Long before it was a bustling, master-planned community, Irvine was an agricultural ranch. It was owned by generations of the Irvine Family, who managed operations from the agricultural headquarters on the northwestern border of their ranch.

Irvine Historic Park historical picture

Irvine Historic Park historical picture

The site was chosen in 1876 because it was close to the stagecoach station in Tustin City.

James Irvine authorized the construction of the house that would become the home of his descendants for decades

The house was the central point of the agricultural headquarters that surrounded it. There was a small office off the front hall and workers would eat meals on the screened porch

Soon, buildings were added as ranch operations expanded. A Mess Hall, Bunkhouse, Blacksmith Shop and Carriage Barn all sprang up at the intersection of Irvine Blvd and Myford Road. For years, this was the nerve center of an agricultural powerhouse.

Irvine Ranch Historic park aerial view

Irvine Ranch Historic Park sign

 

Today, a visit to the Irvine Ranch Historic Park takes you back to the city’s roots; when the primary crops were lima beans and citrus instead of residential villages and business towers.

Located on the corner of Jamboree and Irvine Blvd, The Irvine Ranch Historic Park features a collection of original structures from simpler days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irvine Ranch Historic Park ranch house

The 1906 Mess Hall is still there, where Irvine Company employees heard the clanging of the cook's triangle before lunch.

Meals were served "ranch style" and, after the Irvine Company headquarters were moved nearby the late 1960's, there would be as many as 125 people at a setting.

 

When former Irvine Company president invited distinguished guests from France, they were delighted to enjoy the kitchen specialty of enchiladas, tacos, and beans.  

It was also the place where James H. Irvine hosted annual Christmas Dinners for his veteran employees.

Irvine Ranch Historic Park Annual Christmas Dinner 

 

The Irvine Ranch Historic park is a collection of old structures, silent reminders of a very different time.

The Bunkhouse still stands, near a row of Foremen Houses. The paint on the red Carriage Barn has worn a bit over the years, giving it a vintage charm.

 

Intersection of Myford & Irvine Blvd 

 

The jewel of the Irvine Ranch Historic Park is The Katie Wheeler Library. This beautiful white mansion is an exact replica of the original Irvine Family Home.
 
Irvine Ranch Historic Park Original Design 
 

Design architects consulted original blueprints and took great care to ensure that that new building matched the former home.

Irvine Family historic photos 

The large, Georgian country home witnessed many of the joys and tragedies of the Irvine Family.

It was in this home that James H. Irvine’s first grandchild, a girl named Katie, was born in 1920. Four days later, Katie’s mother Kathryn became ill with pneumonia and died.

Over the years, the home was the setting for decades of holiday celebrations and family dinners.

It was also the place where Myford Irvine, the sole surviving son of James H. Irvine, died tragically in his basement office. His suspicious death, due to multiple gunshot wounds, was ruled a suicide.

Irvine Ranch Historic Park fire

 

In 1965, the iconic home was severely damaged by fire.Three years later, it was demolished,

The Katie Wheeler Library was built on the former home site and opened to the public in 2008.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Visitors to the Katie Wheeler Library are treated to a trip back in time, where they can imagine the members of the Irvine Family seated by the fireplace or walking up the main staircase.
 
Portraits and personal photos are on display and there is a self-guided tour available for those who want to learn more about the Irvine Family.
 
Kate Wheeler Library Self-Guided Tour brochure
 
A stroll among these old buildings takes you back to the days when this was the heart of the Irvine Ranch.
 
It doesn't take long to realize what was truly important to James H. Irvine; who considered himself to be a farmer first, and a landowner second.
 
 
IF YOU GO:

Irvine Ranch Historic Park

13042 Old Myford Rd.

Irvine, CA 92602

(714)973-6609

 

For more Irvine History..please visit the Irvine Historical Society Website