Friday, April 17, 2015

Contrasting Views of Froom Ranch in San Luis Obispo

Historic Froom Ranch Buildings, San Luis Obispo, © B. Radisavljevic
I first discovered the historic Froom Ranch buildings in November, 2011, when I happened to go to Costco in San Luis Obispo alone (as opposed to with my husband.) It had been raining, and after I had shopped I followed the lot around to the Home Depot side and parked at the far end. I decided I wanted to photograph the buildings during a lull between rains. That turned out not to be a great decision.

I tend to be spontaneous. It wasn't good enough to take the photos from the parking lot of Home Depot as I did here. I wanted to get closer and find the Froom Ranch Trail itself. Never mind that the trail was wet or that it would be dark soon. Up I went until I was even with the old barn.

I had searched for the trail because I had wanted a photo of the hills after visiting the Mac Superstore as I was wandering around behind the buildings on that side of Los Osos Valley Road,  someone in the Target shopping center told me the best place to photograph those hills was from the trail that started behind Home Depot. I did get several photos of the hills that night, but they all included Home Depot, as this one did, because the place I was standing was only as high as the old barn.

It was very muddy, and dark was coming on fast, and I knew I had no business trying to go high that night. I promised myself I would come back during daylight someday and hit the trail. Meanwhile, I barely made it down because the mud I had accumulated on the bottom of my shoes was about two inches thick. It took some ingenuity to get them cleaned up so I could get back in the car to drive home.

I had never known much about Froom Ranch, so I decided to do a bit of research online. There wasn't much information but I  did find this much. John R. Froom first came to San Luis Obispo in 1886. He worked on this 5,000-acre ranch, which was then owned by a Mr. L. Nelson. Later Mr. Froom leased it and started a dairy farm which did well. Mrs. Froom somehow received the ranch in 1904. Mr. Froom was a great supporter of his adopted city of San Luis Obispo.

Later on the ranch was purchased by Alex and Phyllis Madonna, who built the Madonna Inn San Luis Obispo is famous for. The Madonnas have also done much for their city, and as I write this, Phyllis, who survived Alex after his death in 2004, is still active in civic service. In 2013 she was named San Luis Obispo County by the Chamber of Commerce in addition to the many other awards she had already received.  She is still very active in supporting the Women's Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County. You can read more about the Madonnas here. 

As far as I know, the ranch is now under the management or ownership of the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo. It appears the historic buildings themselves remain on private property, since there are signs posted to that effect around them.

Historic Froom Ranch Buildings in San Luis Obispo, © B. Radisavljevic
When I took this photo yesterday, it was also near sundown, but it was at least dry. You will notice that the hills are already starting to turn brown because there has been no  rain recently.