The original Buena Vista land grant of where the Rancho Buena Vista adobe now sits was issued in 1845 Gov. Pio Pico to Felipe Subria. Felipe was a Luiseño man who was “awarded” the land grant due to converting to Christianity at the Mission San Luis Rey.
Felipe built a small adobe and barn for his horses. He also raised livestock and tended to a garden. Sadly, nothing of the original foundation remains today. He eventually deeded the land to his daughter, Maria La Gracia who later sold it to Jesus Machado for $3,000.
Mahado is responsible for constructing the Spanish-style adobe that we see today. He also constructed the first irrigation system for the ranch. He dammed the creek so he could have a reservoir of water year-round. He also dug a well. On the land, he grew orchards, and engaged in small scale farming along with raising some livestock.
At one point MGM directer Harry A. Pollard and his wife, silent film actress Margarita Fischer, lived here. In fact there is a mural of Mrs. Fischer in downtown Vista. Check it out!
People like Joan Crawford, who donated the magnolia tree that is in the front of the courtyard, were frequent guests. Margarita was the epitome of a silent screen actress from that time.
The final owner sold the ranch house to the City of Vista for $1 million. After the purchase, a core of volunteers built a museum from scratch. It was proposed to use the property as a wedding venue, and other events, for most of the income to offset maintenance costs. To this date, the Friends of Rancho Buena Vista, a volunteer non-profit group manages the gift shop and museum for tours.
We were told when we visited that this home is allegedly haunted with many creepy stories. There is said to be a body buried in the walls of one of the rooms! That leaves a whole other list of unanswered questions such as WHO is buried in the wall and WHY were they put there?
Visit the place and see if you feel anything!