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Mace Ranch

A brief history of Mace Ranch, Yolo County, California

Brief History of Mace Ranch and Mace Ranch House

With many thanks to John Chiles (assisted by Joy Edwards), 
Lois Mace Chappell, and Dan Ramos


Mace Ranch stands on lands that were owned and farmed for more than three-quarters of a century by the Chiles family 

In 1850 Colonel Joseph Ballinger Chiles (1810-1885) a highly respected pioneer, farmer and cattle rancher, paid $10,000 for 4,327 acres of the 47,600 acre Rancho Laguna de Santos Calle a Mexican Land Grant originally made to Marcos and Manuel Vaca. 

In 1852 Chiles built a two-story family home close to where the Mace Ranch House occupied by Explorit now stands. The land was farmed and used for many years for grain crops, cattle and horses.

As years went by some land was sold and some changed hands within the family. As early as 1854 Joseph B. Chiles transferred the western part of the property to his son-in-law Jerome C. Davis and the eastern part to his other son-in-law Gabriel Brown. 

The town of Davis now largely covers the Jerome C. Davis farm, which was west of today's Pole Line Road. 

The acreage sold to Gabriel Brown, including the 1852 family home, was acquired in 1862 by Joseph B. Chiles' nephew Isaac Skinner Chiles (1829-1874). This eastern part of the Chiles Ranch which extended north from Putah Creek to what is now Covell Blvd; and east from Pole Line Rd. to Road 104, was developed by Isaac into a large and highly respected farming operation of wheat and barley, cattle, and purebred stock. When Isaac died his brother Phineas Skinner Chiles (1842-1919) took over the management of the farm and, in 1876 married his brother's wife Bridgett Dee.

Isaac and Bridgett's sons James and William assumed responsibility for farming their lands when their mother died in 1893. By this time the land was being used as a sheep farm. 

In 1929 James Chiles sold his 540 acre eastern portion to Del Grieve of Davis who continued to operate it as a sheep farm and renovated and lived in the old Chiles' home.

Grieve sold the land and house in 1946 to Gordon Guiberson of Los Angeles. The sheep were relocated and Guiberson used the land for alfalfa and sugar beet. In 1947, near the original Chiles family house, he built an adobe house but lived in it only briefly. 

In 1950 the C. Bruce Mace family purchased 1,760 acres of Chiles Ranch land including the Grieve/Guiberson acreage, the 1852 family home and the adobe house. Bruce Mace, a wealthy Dixon meat packer, cattleman and rancher farmed the land with tomatoes, wheat and alfalfa. He and his family lived in the Guiberson Adobe in 1951 while they dismantled the old Chiles home, and built (and moved in to) the house now known as The Mace Ranch House where the family resided until the 1970s. 

Bruce Mace died in 1961 and his sons sold the ranch in the early 1970s. However, they homesteaded the Ranch House and their mother continued living there until 1985.

Mace Ranch was purchased in 1981 by MRI (Mace Ranch Investors) and, except for the Community Park, which was deeded to the City of Davis, has been developed for residential or commercial uses.  

* * * * * * * *

Explorit's presence in the Mace Ranch House before any of the land was developed came about through a 1991 agreement between MRI partner Frank Ramos and the City of Davis in which that small portion of land was deeded to the City before the rest of the acreage destined for park and housing. The City allowed the Explorit, through a renewable MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), to independently remodel and operate the ranch house as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science center. The adobe building was torn down when the city park was developed. 

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