ICAA at McEvoy Ranch


The Northern California chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art recently had the pleasure of spending a glorious summer day at the McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, CA. We savored a private tour of the sprawling 550 acre ranch owned by the estate of the late Nan Tucker McEvoy. Zoned strictly for agriculture, Nan’s vision in her retirement was inspired by her love of Tuscan olive oil and despite the reported challenges of producing olive oil in Marin County, she planted over 1000 olive seedlings (imported from Tuscany) which have since become a small portion of a now prolific olive oil orchard.


Our first stop was at the Frantoio for an olive oil tasting along with a tour of the agricultural center of the ranch where the harvests are produced by Italian machinery. We then strolled through the olive and grape orchards to the Main House where Nan lived. The house was tastefully filled with everything from chinoiserie treasures and antiques found in a old barn on the property to her fabulous art collection to a chandelier in the main stair made from one of her favorite trees that had been blown down in a storm.


Following beautiful paths and gardens, we then found our way to The Victorian which was an old building on the ranch relocated and rebuilt so Nan could have ‘A fanciful room where the kids can bring their sleeping bags, hang out and watch a movie.’ Also used for entertaining, you’ll see a special edition Elton John red lacquer piano and a cabinet painted by the artist Wayne Thiebaud.


Finally we arrived at the fantasy Chinese Pavilion for a specially prepared lunch accompanied by of course, a refreshing McEvoy ‘Rosebud’ Rosé. Nan, who loved to serve rosé for lunch, wanted a ‘pavilion where we could have a lunch or a party – an olive oil lunch’. Again seeing the influence of chinoiserie, the use of wood planks, rustic metal, and a mosaic stone floor are all indicative of a ranch where a country carpenter would have had such materials easily accessible.


Our day ended on a delicious note at a wine tasting of the wonderful McEvoy (award winning) ‘The Evening Standard’ Pinot Noir and the ‘Red Piano’ proprietary blend. And at the gift shop, splurging on the products of the ranch was simply irresistible.


Lastly, you will see the adorning influence of the ‘Red Throated Blue Tailed Skink’ – also known as a lizard. Once indigenous to the property, Nan’s grandchildren used to have such fun catching and playing with them. Now rare to find in nature, they are preserved throughout as shall we say, the family ‘mascot’.


This eclectic cumulation of buildings and details on the ranch were designed and built over a span of two decades by a collective of architects, decorators, craftspeople and artisans all of whom were led by Nan’s whimsical and adventurous spirit.  Everywhere we turned we were reminded of the serendipity of Nan – truly the ‘best of yesterday and the best of today’. Enjoy the tour!


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