Valley Center, CA
February 6, 2023

Green light for future of historic Rancho Lilac

The future of Rancho Lilac, Valley Center’s historic and culturally-significant ranch, has been up in the air for years, but that uncertainty was abated last week when the county-wide planning agency known as SANDAG voted to approve the issuance of a proposal in which a public entity would assume ownership and management of the property, which dates to 1865. It has been widely heralded as being rich in history and an environmental jewel.
The Valley Center Historical Society and the Valley Center Trails Assn. had lobbied extensively for the ranch to remain open to the public and for trails to be developed through the 900-acre site. The two organizations had argued against an earlier contract which would have denied both requests. That plan was aborted by SANDAG in 2020.
The new RFP (Request for Proposal) contains the following language: There is to be a special outreach to the Valley Center Historical Society and History Museum and the Valley Center Trails Assn. as a community partner. Public hearings will be held before SANDAG selects a permanent owner.
During a 7-year period in which the Historical Society worked with Caltrans, the legal owner of the ranch since 2011, 46 historic resources were identified as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The property is at 31928 Lilac Rd., Valley Center.
Lilac Ranch, as the property was originally called, dates to 1865 when it covered 2,300 acres and was an early cattle ranch. Its prominence was elevated in 1945 when the ranch was purchased by industrialist Irving Salomon who made significant improvements and began breeding herds of prize-winning Herefords, Hampshires and quarter horses. He renamed the place to the more romantic-sounding Rancho Lilac.
The ranch began to attract international attention in 1953 when Col. Salomon was appointed to the United Nations as an Ambassador and Undersecretary. House guests eventually included diplomats, dignitaries, celebrities, authors and artists. The History Museum hosted a day-long tour of the ranch several years ago which drew more than 600 people.
For more information, visit the museum website at and click Historical Sites.

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