National Register of Historic Places in Alameda County

National Register #79000466: Ravenswood in Livermore, California 27 December 2015
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National Register #79000466
2647 Arroyo Road
Built 1896

Ravenswood was built as a rural estate for San Francisco political boss Christopher Buckley. The hundred acre estate was planted with wine grapes of the following varieties: French colombard, folle blanche, gran noir, carrignane, sauvignon vert and petite sirah. Records of the Concannon Vineyard indicate that these varieties were still in production until the 1940's.

Buckley, the son of Irish immigrants, grew up in the 14th Ward in New York City among future Tammany Hall notables. He moved to San Francisco when he was seventeen. He worked as a conductor on a North Beach horse car then tended bar at several Barbary Coast saloons.

When Buckley was thirty, an eye disease caused him to lose sight in both eyes. Blindness did not impede his rise to power. In the 1880's, he became known as the Blind Boss of San Francisco. He sat in the back of his saloon to disperse political patronage. He recognized visitors by their handshakes. His assistants, called lambs, read him newspapers and documents.

Ravenswood was designed to entertain Buckley's associates. The main building had a single bedroom to accommodate a servant. The adjacent "Bedroom House" contained living quarters for the Buckley's family and guests.

Source: Adapted from the NRHP nomination.

When we visited Ravenswood in December of 2015, it was operated by the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District. The grounds and buildings are open to the public several times a month and are available for private functions.

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