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Morgan Hill Historical Society

Morgan Hill Historical Society

Rhoades Ranch Holds a Special Place in History

by Robin Shepherd

When historic places are bulldozed to make way for urban development , it ’ s not just buildings that we lose , but stories of people and events from the past that connect us to these places and our history .

It takes people with vision and a commitment to protect historic places from “ progress at all costs ” attitudes . A great example is Rhoades Ranch in Morgan Hill .

This historic 12-acre ranch is located at the southwest corner of Cochrane and Coyote Roads near the base of Anderson Dam . The property was in serious disrepair when Sheila and Joe Giancola purchased it in 2006 . They delved into the ranch ’ s history and had the property evaluated by historic preservation experts . Based on its historical significance related to exploration / settlement , agriculture and architecture , Rhoades Ranch was designated a County Historic Landmark in 2011 , and listed on the California

Register of Historical Resources and the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 .
The National Register classifies Rhoades Ranch as an “ historic district ” because it includes seven buildings . The Giancola ’ s have undertaken a phased renovation with historic preservation in mind . In 2014 , they held an open house with tours led by Morgan Hill Historical Society docents . Visitors were intrigued by the multi-faceted history of Rhoades Ranch .
Exploration / Settlement
The land on which Rhoades Ranch is situated was first inhabited by indigenous peoples including the Amah Mutsun for thousands of years before Spanish and then Mexican settlement and control ( 1769-1848 ), followed by the Gold Rush and California Statehood ( 1848-1850 ).
Early boundary descriptions suggest that the area in which Rhoades Ranch is now located may have served as a temporary settlement site for Irish immigrant Martin Murphy Sr . and his family when they first arrived in South County in 1844 . Murphy founded San Martin , his family became major Santa Clara Valley landowners , and his granddaughter Diana married Hiram Morgan Hill .
The Rancho Era
Records show that the Rhoades Ranch property was part of the vast Mexican land grant known as Rancho Laguna Seca that covered most of Coyote
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