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History

The Bishop's Ranch was founded in 1947 when the Episcopal Diocese of California, led by Bishop Karl Morgan Block, purchased The Ranch House and 63 acres of land from the White family. Prior to the purchase, the building and land were part of an 8,000 acre working ranch. The Bishop's Ranch campus has expanded over the years and now sits on 365 acres of truly special land.

 

See the timeline below for a complete history of The Ranch from the time of the Pomo people through present day.

1800s

Pre-1800

  • The land the Ranch sits on was originally inhabited by the Pomo people, called ‘Kataictami’, who had a village near the Ranch called Kala’tken. The Pomo Population was estimated between 8,000 and 21,000 prior to contact with European Colonists. Colonists from Russian, Spain, then Mexico and ultimately the United States lay claim to the area.

 

1930

  • Aileen Dowsett White and Osborne White purchase 8,000 acres of land from the estate of Emily Hopkins. This land becomes the ‘White-O-Rancho’.

  • The Whites build the Ranch house for their family home. This was a working ranch with Percheron horses, cattle, a dairy, timber logging and lumber mill, and 5,000 chickens.

 

A man and woman with dog standing in a courtyard with their children on a balcony above
1955
  • The Chapel of St. George is built under the leadership of Bishop Karl Morgan Block, and is dedicated to him.


1958
  • Bishop James Pike is elected


1959
  • The Refectory and St. Stephen’s Cottages are constructed.

1972
  • The Franciscans come to manage the Ranch and keep it from being sold


1975
  • The Friary is added to the Ranch House as housing for the Franciscan Brothers


1976
  • The Casita is built. It was originally intended as a retirement home for Bishop Kilmer Myers.


1979
  • Bishop Swing is elected.

A smiling man with glasses in a clerical collar
1990
  • Cal Rutherford becomes Board President


1991
  • St. Stephen’s Village Cottages are renovated

  • 168 additional acres are purchased


1992
  • Family Camp and Bread Camps begin

  • St. John’s Meeting House is completed

  • An additional 13 acres, known as Hawk Hill, are purchased


1993
  • Lloyd Aubrey becomes Board President. He served as President for over 20 years.


1994
  • Webb Lodge is built


1996
  • Harrison House is constructed

  • Jack Dowling & Lisa Thorpe move to the Ranch

  • The first Silent Days in Advent is held


1998
  • The Refectory and Kitchen are remodeled

  • The “100 Acre Woods” are purchased


1999
  • The Ranch House is remodeled

2010
  • The Prayer Resident Program begins


2013
  • The new pool and St. John’s bathhouse are completed


2015
  • READ Camp begins


2016
  • Susan Pierpoint becomes Board President


2017
  • Kip Cottage & The Friary are renovated to make room for more staff housing

  • The Wright Family moves to the Ranch


2019
  • The Kincade Fire burns 78,000 acres to the north and west of the Ranch

  • Megan Anderson becomes Chaplain of St. George’s Chapel

1841

  • Mexico grants 48,800 acres, including the Healdsburg area, to Henry Delano Fitch, named Rancho Sotoyome.


1850

  • Τhe Heald brothers move to Russian River area and help William March build a flour and lumber mill at the Upper Falls of Mill Creek.

  • The US Government forced many Pomo onto reservations so the European-Americans could home-stead the former Pomo lands. Some Pomo took jobs as ranch laborers; others lived in refugee villages. The Pomo population was estimated between 3,500 and 5,000.

1947
  • The White Family sold 63 acres, including the Ranch House, to the Episcopal Diocese of California. Renamed El Rancho del Obispo, this was the realization of a dream of then Bishop Karl Morgan Block.

1948
  • Grace Cathedral Boy’s Choir Camp comes to Bishop’s Ranch for the first time

A man in a clerical collar and tuxedo
1960
  • The White’s old caretaker’s cottage burns. Kip Cottage is constructed in its place.


1967
  • Bishop Kilmer Myers is elected

1983
  • Bishop Swing forms a task force to sell the Ranch. The task force finds support for maintaining the Ranch and in 1984 a new 501c-3 is formed to manage the Ranch


1985
  • Joe & Phoebe Pummel come to manage the Ranch

  • John Lemmer becomes the first Board President


1986
  • Official Articles of Incorporation and By-laws are established. The first Master Plan, which identified a full 20 years of improvements, is developed.


1987
  • Mark Farmer comes to manage the Ranch. His parents, Peter & Beva, become Resident Hosts.


1989
  • The Rev. Jim Brown becomes Chaplain

  • Sean and Caroline Draper-Swift arrive to be Resident Hosts

2001
  • The Friary is renovated


2004
  • The Labyrinth is added south of the Ranch House


2006
  • Bishop Marc Andrus is elected

A smiling man with glasses in a blue shirt and clerical collar
2008
  • Swing Pavilon is constructed, including a new entry road and additional parking

  • The Bishop’s Ranch cookbook “The Abundant Table” is published

  • Gina’s Orchard is put into a conservation easement by the Martin L. Griffin Family

  • The Trailside Sanctuary is added

  • Nigel Heath becomes Board President.


2009
  • The Rev. Pat Moore becomes the Chaplain of St. George’s Chapel

  • New chapel windows are installed

  • The “Cristo” by Skip Gauthman is installed near the Peace Pole

2020
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ranch closes for the first time in 74 years

  • The Wallbridge Fire burns 55,000 acres to the south and west of the Ranch, coming within 100 feet of the 100 Acre Woods

  • Sean Swift retires after 31 years of service to the Ranch

  • Hale Foote becomes Board President


2021
  • After 15 months of closure, the Ranch reopens to BREAD Camps and Group Retreats

  • Aaron Wright becomes Executive Director of the Ranch

  • The Rev. Fr. Brendan Williams becomes interim Chaplain


2024
  • Jessica Metoyer becomes Board President.

  • The Bishop Austin Rios is elected

A smiling man with a beard in a clerical collar
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2010
2020
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