A Tour of Historic Scripps Miramar Ranch

Welcome to Historic Scripps Miramar Ranch

When Maaco Corporation purchased 1,180 acres of Miramar Ranch for residential development, it promised to preserve the 47-room mansion and 15-acre grounds as a tourist attraction. In March 1969, tours commenced and by July 1970 over 20,000 visitors had toured the premises. This tri-fold brochure was used to promote the tour of Miramar Ranch, “San Diego’s Newest Adventure for Visitors.”

Scripps Miramar Ranch Country Mansion And Private Estate – An Adventure For The Entire Family


Escorted by a hostess-guide, you will join a small group for a leisurely and personalized tour of the rooms and furnishings of the country mansion, the beautifully landscaped grounds, gardens, stables, gymnasium and the many other features of this remarkable turn-of-the-century landmark.

Scripps Miramar Ranch mansion and estate


The Country Mansion And Estate


Imagine a home with a living room larger than today’s average house. 47 rooms, 13 baths, 21,140 ft. of rambling beauty filled with historic mementos and many art objects that are centuries old. Completely furnished and liberally decorated with ornamental treasures from southern Europe, Africa, and the continent, plus one-of-a-kind American antiques and curios. All in a setting of towering eucalyptus trees with 15 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, gardens, and orchids.

Scripps Miramar Ranch mansion living room

An Olympic-sized swimming pool, handsome adobe stables, apiary, tennis courts, completely equipped gymnasium, a 25-foot high aviary filled with exotic tropical birds, a greenhouse filled with a colorful array of flowers year-round, an atrium with orchids and other unusual plants.

The replacement costs for the country mansion, the estate, the grounds, the buildings and the furnishings today have been estimated in excess of $1,500,00. It all adds up to life and living at Scripps Miramar Ranch during the golden age when it was the family home of one of America’s most powerful men, E.W. Scripps.

Scripps Miramar Ranch mansion and estate curios and heirlooms


E.W. Scripps – The Man And The Legend


Variously described by contemporaries of his time as “a champion of the little man,” cantankerous,” “a shrewd businessman,” “compassionate and charitable,” and “a damned old crank,” E.W. Scripps undoubtedly was one of the most influential and powerful figures in the late 19th century and the early decades of this century.

During his lifetime he founded or acquired a chain of 47 newspapers in the United States— more than any other man in the nation. He conceived and initiated the idea of an international news wire service and created the United Press. He first visited San Diego in the 1890s and shortly thereafter acquired the present property to locate Scripps Miramar Ranch. With energy, enthusiasm, and ideas, he began a four-year program of designing, planning and building a country mansion and the total environment which still exists today.

For 36 years after its completion, the Ranch was home for himself and his family, and headquarters of his vast publishing domain.

The following pages and intermittent text depict the original Scripps Miramar Ranch tour pamphlet.

Scripps Miramar Ranch mansion tour pamphlet

Welcome to San Diego’s fascinating and beautiful turn-of-the-century landmark


This souvenir of your visit to Scripps Miramar Ranch will touch on some of the background and high points of your guided tour through the historic site. We hope that you will return soon to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and beauty.


History


The 47-room home with its surrounding outbuildings and acreage were the focal point for the special way of life of E.W. Scripps and his family. He was 36 years old and already had achieved wealth and national prominence as a newspaper publisher when he first discovered the property in 1890.

Scripps Miramar Ranch postcard


Connected only by a random trail through sagebrush to a small and sleepy San Diego of 10,000 population, the property had no trees, no roads, no water, and no buildings when he purchased the initial 400 acres for $5,000. But Scripps liked the cut of the land, the clean air, the warm sun, and the challenge — to develop an environment that would meet his own wishes for seclusion and a wholesome place in which his children could grow “away from the spoiling riches of the cities,” as he put it.


Starting in 1891, from this San Diego retreat, E. W. Scripps directed the course and policies of the largest number of major newspapers ever controlled by one man in America. He continued to add business interests and publications during his years at Miramar as he created a major financial empire.


He died aboard his yacht off the coast of North Africa in 1926 and was buried at sea, as he had directed.


The Home


Within this home’s 20,000 square feet and 47 rooms, there are no less than 13 bathrooms —including two equipped with fireplaces. The master bath of E.W. Scripps is larger than today’s average home’s living room. The long corridors — originally open to the courtyard — span 100 feet each.

Scripps Miramar Ranch Throne Room of E.W. Scripps


E.W. Scripps acted as his own architect and landscape planner. A brother served as the construction foreman. The architecture has been described as North African, a combination of various design influences from countries around the Mediterranean shores.


It is estimated that it would cost over $600,000 to build this house at today’s prices, even though Scripps’ aim was “to provide a pleasant family home, without unnecessary ostentation. “


The house was started in 1891 with the west wing which included the first living room and an apartment above for E.W,’s beloved sister, Ellen Browning Scripps, a principal benefactress of nearby La Jolla.

Ellen Browning Scripps on the cover of Time Magazine, 1926

With the exception of the original living room — remodeled to its present 2,000-square-foot expanse and 16-foot ceiling in 1938 —and a small study which was added in 1940, all rooms were part of the original structure designed by the multi-talented founder of Miramar.


Furnishings


The items of furniture, tapestries, rugs, chests, paintings, statuary and smaller objects throughout the home are a mixture of the possessions of each generation of the Scripps family which has lived here. All generations from E. W. Scripps to the present are represented, for this was the family home until late 1968. The furnishings remain in the home by special arrangement with the members of the Scripps family and trustees of the Estate and, of course, are irreplaceable.

Of special note are the hand-carved and inlaid front door, and double doors to the massive living room, which are of the Italian Renaissance period.

Scripps Miramar Ranch carved front door

Portraits in the living room of Scripps family members are by John Young-Hunter. The nautical-theme leaded glass windows flanking the huge Italian Renaissance fireplace were brought from his New York office by Robert P. Scripps when the room was remodeled in 1938. The bronze chandelier of tiered candles suspended from the living room’s hand-polished, bleached red cedar ceiling is the only one in the home which has not been wired for electricity.

Persian rugs throughout the house are part of the original furnishings. Marble imported from Genoa and tiles from Italy, Holland and a variety of other sources are found in many of the guest rooms and baths. English and Early American curios and features also are in evidence.

Scripps Miramar Ranch mansion library and study

The large main dining room features a beautiful old Gobelin tapestry and an inlaid German Renaissance chest.

E.W. Scripps’ mahogany-paneled study contains the original table he used as a desk and his favorite chair. Double-paned glass windows assure quiet and privacy. The bust of the senior Scripps is a casting from the original sculpted by the noted Jo Davidson in 1922. Numerous photographs throughout the home picture personalities and features of the early days at Scripps Miramar Ranch, family members and journalistic colleagues.


Housekeeping


A domestic staff member, apparently with a great sense of curiosity, once clocked an average day of her chores within the house on a pedometer. She had walked eight miles!

During early days of development of the ranch, Scripps built three boarding houses: one for the teamster help, another for the gardeners who pruned the citrus groves and tended the gardens, and another for the household staff including chauffeurs, kitchen, and housekeeping help. Some 50 workers were employed to keep the ranch and grounds in order. Two houseboys, a chef and helper, a waiter and four maids were employed in the house. In addition, two chauffeurs were on the staff to drive Mr. and Mrs. Scripps and their customary large number of guests. A total of 61 persons— quite a staff by any day’s standards.

The story goes that E.W. Scripps’ hospitality was so generous that sometimes dozens of guests arrived on Saturday and were entertained over the weekend, sometimes not even seeing him if he was hard at work in his office. Free use of the ranch facilities and magnificent dining were always provided.

Each evening, domestics set fires in each of the small fireplaces in each of the bedroom suites, as well as the huge living room fireplace and in the two dining rooms. The use of firewood was prodigious.

Scripps Miramar Ranch mansion suite sitting room

At the turn of the Century, Oil was used for lighting until E. W. Scripps built his own electric power plant. He also had a telephone line strung all the way into San Diego to hook up with San Diego’s service.

Children were always a great part of the life at Miramar and their pets were everywhere. Outside of the kitchen window, parrots perched in the pepper tree and a pet monkey chattered. A favorite sport of the youngsters was driving the St. Bernard dogs— there were 13 at one time—in small harness carts specially made for this unique mode of transportation.


Landscaping


Thousands of Eucalyptus trees and cacti here date from the first of this century. The 20-foot cactus at the entrance patio to the home was planted way back in 1897.

The Australian gum tree, known in California as the Eucalyptus, was the primary choice for tree plantings because the species could survive on little or no water. Today, these tall and stately trees form a forest around the home and driveways.

Hundreds of rose bushes originally were planted around the home, and many climbing roses nurtured at the turn of the century still cling to the outer walls of the home. In the inner patio, evergreen fig covers the walls and climbs around the many windows overlooking the court. Here, as well as at the front of the home, five-foot birds of paradise brighten the scene, with bougainvillea in reds and oranges which bloom in a profusion of color at the roof’s edge. Year- round beauty is assured by a rotation program of flowering plants throughout the yards.

Scripps Miramar Ranch courtyard landscaping

In the acres beyond the house, nearly every type of tree and shrub known in San Diego County was planted during the early 1900’s when Chauncey Jerabeck was the head gardener. (He later planned gardens of San Diego’s world-famed Balboa Park.)


Special Exhibits


An arrangement with the San Diego Historical Society permits the display of items from the Society’s collection here at Miramar. Selections include furniture, curios, pictures and other furnishings which are a part of the turn-of-the-century heritage of San Diego. A committee from the board of directors coordinates the selections through the Society’s director and his staff.

Displays will be rotated over a period Of time between the Society’s exhibits at the Serra Museum, located in San Diego’s Presidio Park, and Scripps Miramar Ranch. The museum is headquarters for the Society.


Ownership


Scripps Miramar Ranch totals approximately 1180 acres and was purchased from the Scripps Family Trust by Macco Corporation in 1968 for $4.2 million.

Macco, with headquarters in Newport Beach, California, is presently developing a planned community for the property involving various types of residential units. The Scripps Miramar Ranch house and immediate grounds were restored by Macco Corporation and will be used as a historic site for an indefinite period in the future.


Outbuildings


Greenhouse


Plants were started here from seed and cuttings to refurbish plantings in the arid soil of the ranch. Flowers also were grown here to provide decoration for the dining tables and rooms of the home during all seasons.


Kennels


At one time, 13 St. Bernards were kept in the kennels as pets for the children. The Scripps boys also had several hunting dogs, mostly setters, which they used in hunting quail on the ranch. Dog houses were scattered here and there on the ranch property; however, most of the dogs lived in the barn and a few in the house. The run area was added by Robert P. Scripps.


Aviary

 

The 25-foot-high dome-shaped cage contains birds of the area. It was once referred to as “Scripps’ Million-Dollar Bird Cage” but records show it was originally built for only a few hundred dollars.


Stables

 

At the peak of the good life at Scripps Miramar Ranch, as many as 30 fine riding horses were housed in the adobe stables. Each of the large stalls opens onto a run area at the back and into the walking court at the center. Riders have created trails throughout the area of Miramar Ranch.


Honey House

 

This project was originally developed by young Robert Scripps, grandson of E.W., who enjoyed all facets of ranch life as well as the honey the bees produced.


Gymnasium

 

The active Scripps family used the gymnasium for many activities including dancing and as a schoolroom. The full-sized basketball court afforded an excellent spot for roller skating. The schoolroom is located upstairs and has its own corner fireplace. Tutors were brought to Miramar to teach school and dancing classes, as well as gymnastics and game skills to the boys.

A Scripps Miramar Ranch tour is ideal for convention-goers, church, civic and social clubs. Special group rates are available for both adults and children in groups of 15 or more. Firm reservations are required three days in advance of your group visit. Youth groups must be accompanied by an adult.

Catering services may be arranged, such as coffees, luncheons, and teas, for weekday group visits, including the guided tour. Catering arrangements also require three days’ advance notice. Call or write for a reservation card and for additional group information, including transportation arrangements.