The Scott Ranch
Following the death of Arnold Scott, a lifelong Petaluman, in 1999 what remained of his family’s 134-acre ranch on D Street went to his alma mater, the University of the Pacific, where he received a degree in sociology in 1939. The ranch is located on the corner of D Street and Windsor Drive. Several of the original outbuildings are still present, including a prominent, 2.5 story red barn.
Mr. Scott’s intention in donating the property was that it be sold and the proceeds used to fund a scholarship. Scott had received a football scholarship to UOP and was forever grateful for having had the opportunity to attend college. He believed others should share in his good fortune. This was not his first act of generosity. Arnold Scott provided sports scholarships in the names of his parents to Petaluma and Casa Grande high schools and contributed financially to the all-weather track at Petaluma High.
Although Mr. Scott never married or had children of his own, he was a surrogate father to many local youth who he took on regular fishing and hunting trips – sometimes on the ranch itself which was purchased by Arnold’s father, Niels Christian Scott, in 1915.
In addition to the Scott family, the property is also associated with Wiese and Petersen families.
Carl Johannes Wiese, a German immigrant, received a patent to what was then a 160-acre parcel in 1868 and shortly thereafter established one of the first dairy ranches to supply milk to the local retail trade.
From probate proceedings included in an abstract of title held by the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library, I learned that when Carl Wiese died in 1876 his 160-acre ranch, appraised at $4,800, as well as 20 cows and two horses went to his wife, Catherine. In 1893 she deeded the property to her daughter, Mary Petersen. Mary had married Julius Petersen on October 17, 1880 at the ranch. They raised their four children, Hulda, Bertha, Arthur and Rudolph, on the ranch. Bertha married Magnus Vonsen, a prominent Petaluma feed merchant.
In addition to operating the ranch, Julius Petersen was a painter, credited with painting some of the first incubators manufactured by Lyman Byce. His specialty however was carriages. Early on he had a shop at the corner of Keller and Washington Streets and later moved to the corner of Howard Street and Western Avenue. He likely used one of the larger barns on his ranch as a workshop.
By 1910 the Petersens had built a house at 407 C Street and were living there. In 1915 they sold all but 26 acres of their ranch to Niels C. Scott, a Danish immigrant.
Scott settled in California around 1900 and established a ranch in the Sonoma Mountains. After his daughter Carmen was born, he and his wife Amalia decided to move closer to town.
At the time Scott purchased the ranch, a reporter for the Petaluma Argus stated it was “one of the most important farm land deals made” and that the farm is a splendid one and is a quarter of a mile outside the city limits and only 15 minutes walk from the post office.”
According to another newspaper articles dated March 2, 1915, N.C. Scott awarded a contract to H.P. Vogensen for the “remodeling of practically every building and the reconstruction of every fence on his splendid farm on D Street extension.” The article continues by stating that “the improvements will cost much money, but when they are completed he will have a show place and one of the finest and most attractive farm homes in this vicinity.”
The old Wiese home would later be replaced by a one-story, stucco, Craftsman bungalow. This bungalow was destroyed by fire around 1967, but several of the outbuildings remain, serving as prominent landmarks to the passersby and artists alike.
When Niels Scott died in 1941 the Petaluma Argus stated that the Scott Ranch was one of the “model places in the county.”
The Scott Ranch was purchased by Davidon Homes of Walnut Creek in 2004 for $7.8 million (Press Democrat, October 17, 2006, pg. B1). Today, just as they did in 2006, Davidon proposes to build 93 homes on the 58 acre ranch that is situated next to Helen Putnam Regional Park.
The Scott Ranch is called out in the City of Petaluma’s 2025 General Plan which was adopted in 2008. Policy 2-P-68 states specifically that the red barns are to be preserved in place.
The barns are a tangible link to the region’s agricultural heritage that few Petaluma properties convey. Their physical location and setting provide a gentle transition from rural to urban that cannot be replicated.
The draft environmental impact report has been prepared. The draft EIR covers many issues including the red barns. Davidon Homes proposes demolition of the structures as one option, relocating as another.
The draft environmental impact report will be reviewed by the City Council on April 15, 2013. For more information go the City’s web site: http://cityofpetaluma.net/cdd/davidon.html as well as that of Petalumans for Responsible Planning, a group of concerned citizens working to find an alternative to the Davidon proposal. Their web site is http://www.petrp.org/