“If not Heaven itself, the ranch must have the same zip code.” -Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States, serving from 1981 to 1989. Prior to becoming President, he was the 33rd Governor of California and a radio, film and television actor.
Rancho del Cielo is a 688 acre ranch located northwest of Santa Barbara, California in the Santa Ynez mountain range and was the former home of US President Ronald Reagan.
There is a Spanish adobe house, barn, horse stables, and outbuildings that once served as housing for the secret service.
The ranch was first named Rancho de los Picos after José Jesús Pico.
He was a descendant of Santiago de la Cruz Pico who came with the Anza expedition in 1776 and was the last Mexican Governor of Alta California, who moved north from Mexico and built the original adobe house in 1871.
The property belonged to the Pico family until 1941, when a son of Jose Pico sold it to Frank Flournoy, a surveyor for Santa Barbara for $6,000. It was next sold to Roy and Rosalie Cornelius, who increased the land holdings by purchasing adjacent land.
The Reagans bought the ranch from the Cornelius family for $527,000 in 1974, which is the equivalent to $2.5 million today during his second term as Governor of California.
Reagan renamed the property “Rancho del Cielo”, or “the Ranch in the Sky”.
Reagan himself remodeled the adobe house, with assistance from a ranch hand.
He also built the fence around the house from telephone poles and constructed a rock patio.
The Ranch is accented by majestic hardwood trees, live oak and Pacific madrone, along with ageless rocks and other cultural relics.
The property offers exceptional scenic vistas of the surrounding mountains, meadows and the Pacific Ocean.
The estate includes a pond called Lake Lucky, where the Reagan’s paddled a canoe.
The property is secluded, and only reached by a one-lane, unpaved road that is impassable during the rainy season.
During his presidency, Reagan spent vacations at the ranch, which became known as the Western White House.
During the recession of 1981, President Reagan signed the landmark Economic Recovery Act at the Ranch, the largest tax cut in American history, which unleashed the Reagan revolution later to be called “Reaganomics”.
The President and Mrs. Reagan hosted British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher numerous times, as well as Queen Elizabeth and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
It was reported that Gorbachev was disappointed by the ranch because he expected a palatial retreat, instead finding a humble house that anyone would feel comfortable.
After leaving the presidency in 1989, the Reagan’s moved to BelAir, California, but kept the ranch as a private, rural retreat.
1995 was President Reagan’s last visit to his beloved ranch due to Alzheimer’s disease, with Mrs. Reagan last visiting in 1998, before selling the property to the Young America’s Foundation.
The group was established to preserve Reagan’s political ideology, moral values and a testament to his lasting achievements.
Although the property is closed to the public, students and Young America supporters can visit the ranch.
Unlike other presidential sites, Rancho del Cello is not a museum.
The home is just a President Reagan left it, as if the first family had just stepped out and will return at any moment.
The decor of the house is heavily Western, with bamboo and wicker furniture with American Indian print cushions.
The 1970’s interior is reflected in the retro orange vinyl chairs, bumper pool table and mustard yellow kitchen appliances.
Reagan’s infamous red ranch jeep is parked in the barn and the presidential seal is on the functioning riding lawnmower.
Reagan stated that Rancho del Cielo was a unique, beautiful setting in the clouds on a mountain top, but the rancho building was befit ordinary people who love the land.
“From the first day we saw it, Rancho del Cielo cast a spell over us.
No place before or since has ever given Nancy and me the joy and serenity it does.” -Ronald Reagan