National Register of Historic Places in Marin County

North Side of the Pierce Ranch Hay Barn North Side of the Hay Barn

Southeast Corner of the Pierce Ranch Hay Barn Southeast Corner of the Hay Barn

The hay barn, the largest building on the property, was probably built in 1919 or earlier as a dairy barn with three hundred stalls for milking cows. It was converted to a hay barn sometime before 1930.

(Click Photos to Zoom)

National Register #85003324
Pierce Ranch Historic District
Point Reyes National Seashore
Year 1858

Among the many ranches of the Point Reyes Peninsula and nearby Olema Valley, Pierce Ranch has the greatest degree of integrity. Although the ranch has experienced rebuilding, remodeling, and replacement of buildings for over a century, its character remains that of a late 19th and early 20th century dairy ranch.

Before Pierce Ranch was here, the land was sand dunes and grassland grazed by native animals. Today, the land is grassland with eucalyptus and Monterey Cypress planted in long rows as windbreaks.

Before the American conquest of California, the land was part of a Mexican land grant, Punta de los Reyes Sobrante. The law firm of Shafter, Park and Heydenfelt acquired the land soon the conquest and developed it as a series of ranches, each given a letter of the alphabet. The only exception was a a 2,200 acre tract at the end of Tomales Point which the firm sold to Solomon Pierce in 1858.

Solomon Pierce had emigrated to El Dorado County from Vermont in 1850 in search of gold. In 1856 his wife and son to joined him. in 1858, the Pierces moved to Petaluma where Solomon entered the dairy business. The following December, Pierce purchased the Tomales Point tract and moved his family onto the land. By the close of his first year, Pierce had acquired three horses, thirty-seven milk cows, two work oxen, forty head of cattle and twenty-four swine.

In 1856, according to local tradition, a small dwelling was built at this site, and is now part of the main house. Between 1856 and 1933, ranch buildings such as barns arid creameries were built. A new main house was built in 1869 and is believed to be part of the main house that survives today.

The district contains ten buildings, three structures and eighteen objects of historic significance. The age of most of these buildings, structures and objects is speculative.

Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1985.

Pierce Ranch ceased operations in 1973. The National Park Service has rehabilitated the ranch core, citing it as the best example of a west Marin dairy ranch from the 1800s. The property is open to the public.

Name Year Address Remarks Sort Address Sort Name
Main House1856Pierce Ranch 180Two houses of irregular plan combined into one. Sizteen rooms, not counting closets, entries and baths. 180Main House
Wash HousePierce Ranch 181The east side was a wash house and the west side was a storeroom. 181Wash House
Lath HousePierce Ranch 200A lath latticework structure for flowers.200Lath House
North Bunk House1917Pierce Ranch 182Two sleeping rooms and a bathroom. Two men lived in the West Room, one in the East. The bathroom was installed ometime between 1917 and 1930. Graffiti dates the building as no later than 1931.182North Bunk House
School House1878Pierce Ranch 183Tradition dates the building to the 1860s, but its first documented use as a schoolhouse was in 1878. 183School House
School OuthousePierce Ranch 184184School Outhouse
Wagon or Implement ShedPierce Ranch 185Used for a wood shed for storing firewood for many years.185Wagon or Implement Shed
West BunkhousePierce Ranch 186The interior is equally divided into two rooms. Graffiti dates the building as no later than 1922.186West Bunkhouse
West Storage ShedPierce Ranch 187Originally a blacksmith shop and wagon shed.187West Storage Shed
Calf ShedPierce Ranch 188Protected newborn calves and their mothers for the first day or two after birth. 188Calf Shed
Hay Barn1919Pierce Ranch 189The largest building on the property probably built in 1919 or earlier. It was once a dairy barn with three hundred stalls in which cows were milked. It had become a hay barn by 1930.189Hay Barn
New Diary House1933Pierce Ranch 190Built in 1933.190New Diary House
Old Diary House1900Pierce Ranch 196Built after 1880, probably early in the 20th Century.196Old Diary House
GaragePierce Ranch 197The garage accommodated two cars.197Garage
Horse BarnPierce Ranch 191A Pennsylvania type barn with a cantilevered southeast corner. Second largest building at the ranch.191Horse Barn
Old GaragePierce Ranch 192192Old Garage
Old Wagon ShedPierce Ranch 193Two structures connected at the roof.193Old Wagon Shed
Chicken House APierce Ranch 194194Chicken House A
Chicken House BPierce Ranch 195195Chicken House B
Tank House (Cistern)Pierce Ranch 199Completely rebuilt by Point Reyes National Seashore in 1980.199Tank House (Cistern)
Corral and Other Wooden FencesPierce Ranch 198The complex contains a number of different types of wooden fences.198Corral and Other Wooden Fences
Road to Tomales BayPierce Ranch 201The dirt road which departs eastward from just south of the main house is considered an historic road.201Road to Tomales Bay
Road to Lower RanchPierce Ranch 202The dirt road which departs westward from just south of the main house is considered an historic road.202Road to Lower Ranch
Entrance RoadPierce Ranch 203The dirt road which departs northward from the paved road is considered an historic road.203Entrance Road
Wooden Cattle GuardPierce Ranch 204Lies across the entrance road between the East and West Quadrangles. Similar in design to metal cattle guard.204Wooden Cattle Guard
Ruins of Pierce Ranch PierPierce Ranch 205A long narrow pier which once served the ranch in a small estuary into White Gulch from Tomales Bay.205Ruins of Pierce Ranch Pier
Ruins of Quail ClubhousePierce Ranch 206 Remains of a brick chimney datin to the1920s or 1930s. The lost building was possbly a two-story woodframe hunting club about the same size as the main ranch house. During World War II eight Coast Guard enlisted men assigned to patrol the beaches of Tomales Point lived there.206Ruins of Quail Clubhouse
Ruins of Hog ShedPierce Ranch 207Concrete foundation of a hog shed and feeding area.207Ruins of Hog Shed
Feed Storage HousePierce Ranch 208Originally a chicken coop on a ranch in Fallon, California. Moved to Pierce Ranch for feed storage. 209Feed Storage House
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