gmhTODAY Summer 2021 | Page 23

Images provided by Morgan Hill Historical Society : morganhillhistoricalsociety . org
Valley . It was purchased by Captain William Fisher from Massachusetts in 1845 . When Fisher died in 1850 his widow , Liberata Ceseña , subdivided 20,000 acres among the Fisher family heirs . From that subdivision , a 300-acre parcel ( including the future Rhoades Ranch property ) was sold to a lawyer from Missouri named Alvora Cottle .
Between 1865 and 1867 , Cottle subdivided the 300-acre property and is thought to have built a National Folk-style house on the parcel purchased by David and Nancy Phegley in 1871 . The Phegley House continues to serve as a residence today .
David Phegley ’ s son James and his family lived on the property and engaged in cattle ranching for about seven years before moving to Gilroy . James Phegley expanded his cattle ranching enterprise while serving briefly as Gilroy ’ s Constable , and for four years as District 1 Supervisor on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors . The Phegley ’ s sold the property to Ira Osborne ( IO ) Rhoades in 1911 and retired in Pacific Grove .
The Shift to Orchards
IO Rhoades was a retired railroad purchasing agent . He engaged master architects Howard Higbie and Andrew Hill Jr . and built the Rhoades House and garage between 1917 and 1920 in the Spanish Eclectic style , borrowing elements from Moorish , Gothic and Mission architecture . The red tile roof , stucco exterior , courtyard , carved doors , archways and use of decorative tile give the house a timeless aesthetic quality .
( Higbie and Hill also designed the Saratoga home that Olivia ( de Havilland ) and Joan Fontaine grew up in before becoming Hollywood movie stars .)
Rhoades and his son William converted the property for horticultural use . William planted 125 acres in orchards and was managing growing operations when his father transferred ownership to him in 1920 . Rhoades Sr . had become a leader in the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association , which brought individual farmers together to negotiate competitive prices for their fruit . The Growers Association became Sunsweet , today a global leader in dried fruits .
IO Rhoades and his wife later moved to Southern California . William passed away in 1935 , but his widow Katherine Garnett Rhoades managed the ranch until 1945 , when she sold 14.31 acres to Harold E . Thomas , and 145 acres to Sebastian and Luigia Borello who established Borello Farms . ( Continued ...)
OPPOSITE PAGE INSET : Joe and Sheila Giancola , Owners of the Historic Rhoades Ranch since 2006 , established the property ’ s historical significance . Their efforts led to the property being designated as a County Historic Landmark in 2011 , and listed on the California Register of Historical Resources and the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 ( NRIS Reference Number : 13000158 ) OPPOSITE PAGE TOP LEFT : Rhoades House front elevation . The Spanish Ecclectic style house was built from 1917 thru1920 TOP MIDDLE : Phegly House , facing west towards the entry to the Rhoades Ranch site from Cochrane Road . ABOVE : Rhoades House front entry . BELOW : Ira Osborne ( IO ) Rhoades , a leader in California agriculture , beginning with a small cooperative of farmers ; the California Prune and Apricot Growers Assoc , in 1917 . He was elected to State Board of Directors in 1922 . The Association became Sunsweet - today a Global leader in dried fruits .
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