At the foot of Bubb Road in Cupertino, California is Dorothy Anne Way and the unpretentious gate to a world seemingly lost to time; The Seven Springs Ranch. Located at the foot of gentle slopes which today border 60,000 acres of protected open space for hiking and riding behind it, the ranch overlooks a valley once abundant in agricultural product and now the dynamic center of a very different yield, Silicon Valley.
Founded in 1866 by John Bubb, after whom Bubb Road was named, it was reportedly purchased for the then whopping sum of $40 per acre. Bubb was claimed to have said that when he bought the land “ it was so poor, that a jack rabbit would have starved on it.” It’s major products at that time were mustard and squirrels. In time, Bubb settled his family there in a home he built at the intersections of Stelling and Prospect Roads at what was then known as Seven Springs Ranch for the seven abundant springs which coursed through the land.
The oldest structure on the property is the Bubb Barn. A timber-framed structure with a flared design, it is typical of 19th century barns at the time in the Valley. Square nails, channel-rustic siding, angled boxed eaves, and the complex post and beam joinery speak of a quality and sensibility more common in the 19th century than today. The barn is still a working environment with its comfortable office, box stalls, workshops, loft, and expansive storage area in which tractors and other equipment can be easily stored and maintained.
In the early 20th century, the William Addison Radford family acquired the ranch and it became generally known as Radford Seven Springs Ranch. A number of significant things occurred during this period. Radford, best known as a Chicago-based publisher of the American Builder magazine and purveyor of a large inventory of residential building plans through that medium, launched an experimental agricultural venture on the ranch which was widely known and publicized for its innovations . One can find reference to Radford Seven Springs Ranch in agriculture periodicals of the time including Farm Mechanics magazine in the 1920’s. In terms of the ranch as we know it today, the landscaping design surrounding the Stauffer or Main House owes most of its design to the Radford era including the ornamental moat still stocked with gold fish, the automobile and pedestrian bridges, and the Italian Renaissance Water Tower behind the home which is accessible by means of an elegant stairway leading from the gardens below. The Water Tower is fed by a deep well which provides all the water needs for the entire ranch. A public utility water line is also available on the property as a backup to the well.
The Carriage house is a 1920’s late –Craftsman-era garage situated beside the Bubb Barn. It was designed to house horse-drawn carriages and automobiles and has a residential apartment above.
A Gardener’s Cottage, Orchard House, sits across from the Main House with one of the remaining apricot orchards in between. The cottage is an example of common Bungalow/Craftsman style not unlike the plans marketed by the William A Radford Co. of Chicago, and was originally employed by Radford as the Division Superintendent’s Home.
Under the Radford ownership, Seven Springs Ranch was firmly established as a prominent agricultural center in the midst of what had now become known, due to its natural beauty and abundance, as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”.
In the 1930’s the property was acquired by Grant Stauffer and his family who moved from Kansas City. Grant Stauffer razed the main house constructed by Radford , and commissioned Ralph Wyckoff to design a Spanish-Colonial-Revival residence in its place. The home sits, positioned to make the most of its orientation to the existing landscape design and the Water Tower, upon a gently elevated area which enjoys the benefit of a sweeping view of the orchards and valley below. Today, though the valley has transformed from an agricultural landscape to a suburban one, the view remains much as it was in the mid 1903’s when the home was constructed save for the increased height of the trees which provide the exquisite seclusion the estate continues to enjoy.
Ralph Wyckoff received his education in architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1914 and had a number of prominent designs to his credit when he was commissioned for this project. His highly-designed asymmetrical one-story work is a unique property with great character. Intricately detailed ornamentation, and the symmetry of delicately tapered niches combine with substantial construction materials and workmanship the likes of which are rarely found in modern construction. The proportions of the great room and entry hall are said to have been determined according to the Pythagorean golden ratio; the most aesthetically pleasing proportion to the human eye. Carved doors adorned with delicately painted designs, intricate wrought iron-work, decorative wrought copper leaders and gutters which manage water flow from the rustic barrel roof tiles, scroll cut wood headers, hand-troweled plasterwork, exceptional period tile work and tile murals are among the many rare features which provide opportunities for delightful discovery as one wanders from room to room.
Completed in 1937, The Main House garage is accessed by way of a sunken driveway which gently winds its way to the entrance. Built with the cumbersome size of 1930’s vintage roadsters in mind, Wyckoff thoughtfully provided a massive electric turntable in the garage which enables one to rotate the position of the automobile 180 degrees to enter and exit without driving in reverse!
In the rear courtyard, a graceful fountain is surrounded by the U-shaped residence design and faces the elegant stairway leading up to the Water Tower. Two graceful hills behind the residence beckon to the aspiring vintner and eventually lead to the property line which bounds 60,000 acres of Open Space. Access to the Open Space area is through private, locked gates and which lead to bridle and hiking trails. Between the hills is a meadow in which a large equestrian arena is located.
Behind the Main house along a gently winding path is Place Pigalle; a cozy artist’s retreat replete with large bedroom, sitting room, and living room, beautifully tiled full bath and a small kitchen. The quaint front porch is an inviting place to sit a spell and take in the beauty of the surrounding gardens.
Down a picturesque garden pathway, one finds oneself at the front door of the Adobe House. Prominent Carmel architect, Robert Stanton was commissioned to design this Ranch-style residence completed in 1946 and built initially as a guest house. It is a Western Ranch-Style home with the low profile look, open floor plan, expansive steel framed windows and sliding glass doors suggestive of a mid-century modern design yet a unique marriage of rustic adobe and hewn timber with wrought iron supports gives it its distinctive Western Ranch House pedigree. Dorothy Lyddon engaged Hugh Comstock, noted for his Carmel "storybook" designs, for a 1964 addition in conjunction with the landscape design and pool by Thomas Church, master planner for Stanford, U.C. Berkeley and many other significant projects. The Comstock addition creates an L-shaped footprint which surrounds the pool and patio. Opposite the pool side of the home is a marvelous rustic patio with built-in barbeque which overlooks gorgeous landscaping and a large horse paddock which sits where a man-made reservoir was once located during the Radford period. Bright, sunny and airy, The Adobe House is inevitably a focal point for entertaining and tranquil rest amidst graceful scenes of nature and view of the pool.
Beside the horse corral, we find the Claude Stoller Mid-Century Modern designed Manager’s Office. Stoller, who studied design and architecture at Harvard and UC Berkeley, was commissioned by Dorothy Lyddon in 1981-82 to build this structure along with a greenhouse next to the Adobe House. The Manager’s office is a U-shaped single story office with floor to ceiling windows oriented to view the horse corral. Light and airy, it presents a wonderful setting for contemplative work.
A short stroll past the corral, leads to a detached garage, and the Manager’s House. Built in the mid-late 1940’s it overlooks the orchard and the roadway leading to the Stauffer Road Gate entrance and was intended to be residence for the Ranch Manager.
In its nearly 150 years, this is only the third time Seven Springs Ranch has been offered for sale and the first time in over 75 years. Considering the increasing demand for land and housing, it is likely the only property of its kind. A secluded equestrian estate with a warmth of character which hearkens back to a quieter, tranquil pace of life and the origins of the Valley of Heart’s Delight, it now looks out upon a vista which frames the dynamism and excitement of Silicon Valley. Seven Springs Ranch; a timeless legacy of California’s 19th Century Pioneers amidst the field of the world’s 21st Century Pioneers.
Historical references are based upon research by Franklin Maggi of Archives & Architecture, LLC, other public records, and anecdotal information from members of the Lyddon family. Historical information, square footage, lot size, and potential land uses of the property should be independently verified by prospective purchasers. Living area, and room count information is an aggregated count based upon the combined area of several residential use structures on the estate and based upon a professional measurement deemed reliable but not warranted. Please refer to floor plans and site maps included in disclosures for more detail.