Mission Ranch has a long history, and so does Clint Eastwood, who has made a lot of money as a movie star and director. He fell in love with the old ranch, just like many men who had come to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, before him. After changing the movie and TV business and the town of Carmel itself, he started to change the old Mission Ranch. He did it even though it wasn’t easy or cheap.
When Clint Eastwood walked into the Mission Ranch for the first time, he was only 21 years old. The young man wanted to find a place to relax and eat something cheap. At the time, he was being trained at the nearby Fort Ord. At first, the buildings in Mission Ranch were a mix of the Fort Ord officers’ club and a dairy farm, which is not what they are now.
Eastwood was a lumberjack before he was drafted. When he got out of the army, he didn’t have a lot of ideas about what to do next. But as soon as he walked into the ranch, he fell in love with it.
“I thought it was great the first time I saw the place,” he told Architectural Digest. “It looked like something else, and I thought it would be a great place to live. So I sort of took Carmel in.”
The Mission Ranch is a beautiful piece of land that is right where the Carmel River meets the Pacific Ocean in a lush wetland. As you might expect, the ranch has stunning views of the ocean, as well as the beautiful curve of the beach and the Monterey coast. It’s easy to see why this area is thought to be one of the most beautiful in northern California.
A lot of goats, horses, and sheep live in the area, and you can see them all grazing in the green pasture below the eucalyptus and oak trees. Herons and ducks moving along the river are, of course, hard to miss.
After more than 40 years, the young boy who fell in love is now one of the most famous and successful actors and directors in the world. He has played a lot of important roles, like a singer in “Honky Tonk Man” and a detective in “Dirty Harry,” because of his fierce, carved smile and grizzled chin. “Unforgiven,” a remake of a western, won him an Oscar. Today, this famous star became the new owner of the nicely remodeled Mission Ranch.
In the 1960s, when Clint Eastwood moved to Los Angeles, he starred in a popular TV show called “Rawhide.” At that time, he had just bought his first home in Monterey. Soon, he decided to stay on the rough central coast of California.
Eastwood loved to play golf. He went to the Carmel Bay Pebble Beach Golf Course often. This is where he shot the first movie he directed, which was all about the rocky Monterey Peninsula.
Eastwood says, “I just slowly became a part of the community.” “Carmel showed me something different about the movie business.” In the 1980s, Eastwood decided to fix up a building in the center of his town. Unfortunately, the Carmel city council did not let him move forward with the project. He found out that other poor people in Carmel had the same thing happen to them and were not allowed to fix up their homes or businesses.
The man rode his horse in a dramatic way to defend the weak and helpless, just like he would have done in a movie. The case went to court, and Eastwood won. He ran for mayor of the town the next year.
“No one else was willing to do it… So, after a few drinks, I said I’d do it. “I decided to win because I am a very determined person,” he told Architectural Digest.
Eastwood did everything he could, like knocking on doors, talking to people at several coffee klatches, and holding rallies. As you might expect, he won by a huge amount in 1986.
Eastwood was doing well in politics and as a person, but the Mission Ranch was in trouble. After years of not being taken care of, the ranch was quickly taken over by termites. Its walls were cracking, and its screens were rusting and falling apart. From his new home in Carmel, Eastwood watched the ranch fall apart. He watched as the wetlands took over the polo field and swimming pool of the old club. Now, shady couples and merchants on the road would stay at restaurant and hotels.
Eastwood decided to stop by and see what was going on. When he got there, he saw a lot of broken windows and paint that was coming off. During the Second World War, black paint was used on some of the windows. Back then, the people of Carmel thought that the Japanese would come over the marshes and attack them.
In 1771, Carmel by the Sea was the spiritual center of Alta California. Father Junipero Serra built the San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo at this time. It is now a beautiful neighbor to Mission Ranch. In case you were wondering, the first people to live in the area were the Spaniards, who made Monterey the capital of Alta California in the 18th century. Between San Diego and Baja California was the territory.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Carmel was also a safe place for a group of important Western writers and artists. Robinson built his Tor above the Pacific, and no one from Upton Sinclair to Sinclair Lewis didn’t live and write there.
In the 1850s, it was built by one of the first families to live on the Monterey peninsula. It had six rooms for guests. After about 45 years, the house was rebuilt and turned into a two-story home.
In 1879, when he got to Monterey, Robert Louis Stevenson was only 29 years old. His job was to win the heart of the beautiful Fanny Osbourne, who was married to someone else at the time. As the young writer wandered aimlessly along the rocky coast and wooded hills, he became fascinated by San Carlos Borromeo. When the Spaniards left, the mission had been empty for a long time. The poor young man wrote, “The church has no roof and is falling apart. Sea breezes and sea fogs, and the changing of rain and sun, widen the breeches every day.”
Stevenson went past the mission and paced the pasture and beach right at the mouth of Carmel River. He then climbed the rough rocks at Point Lobos. He did this because he wanted fame and love very much.
Robert Louis Stevenson went back to England, maybe because love had given him a lot of ideas. In the end, the view from the Mission Ranch and Point Lobos became the setting for the amazing Treasure Island. The other person he married was Fanny Osbourne.
In 1986, about 100 years later, a developer became interested in the ranch and wanted to build condos there. Before he bought it, Eastwood paid $5 million for the whole 22 acres and the run-down buildings on it.
“I’d always liked the place, but they were going to knock it down. They said it no longer worked. He told Architectural Digest, “I thought it should be kept the way it was.”
He joined a short line of people, like Robert Louis Stevenson and Junpero Serra, who left their mark on the small cove in the Pacific. No one thought the Mission Ranch was pretty unless they were too sentimental or just plain stubborn. The whole wiring system was broken, and so were the pipes. In fact, the pipes were leaking so badly that about 40% of the gas was lost through the floor.
“When you open a place like this, it’s like the bear who climbs a hill to see the next hill and the next hill…
“It never ends,” says Eastwood.
“There is a big difference between preserving something and talking about preserving it. “Putting your money where your mouth is is different,” Eastwood found out quickly. So far, the man has put in a few million dollars, and he says that the ranch will be a huge success even if it just breaks even.
At the moment, the Mission Ranch has 31 luxury guest rooms, a modern restaurant and bar, and some of the best views in all of California. Eastwood is still building modern gyms and tennis courts.
Alan Williams was asked by Eastwood to help with the renovation. Alan works with a company that specializes in building restoration known as the Carmel Development Company. A stonemason who had worked on the Mission San Carlos Borromeo also fixed up the chimneys. When he needed furniture for the ranch, he brought in a few old pieces from movie sets.
Frances Fisher, who worked on the movie “Unforgiven” with Eastwood, gave great advice about the quilts and flower arrangements.
Eastwood says, “She cares more about the details, while I see the big picture.”
Edgar Broyhill, who made furniture in North Carolina, was hired by Eastwood to get him more serious furniture. He met Broyhill on the golf course, and Broyhill made the Mission Ranch Collection. “A room’s style comes from its furniture… Eastwood said, “I wanted this furniture to feel solid, but I also wanted it to be very comfortable.” Broyhill says that the focus of the collection is on comfort, which is why he added so many deep cushions and made the pieces useful. He made it clear that he wasn’t trying to say something about his style.
Eastwood is well-known both on the ranch and in the Carmel area. But he is very private and stays to himself. He says that he is not the type of “jolly host.” Instead, he is a humble, friendly man who is quick to give credit to others and downplay his own achievements. From the way he walks and dresses, it’s almost impossible to tell who he is. He loves being in the sky, which is probably why he drives his own helicopter.
Clint Eastwood has been in more than 30 movies. He is now 90 years old. It looks like his love for the small town has grown into a passionate mix of worldly power and natural beauty.
“Carmel is primo… You can’t help but love the place. When you come back here after being away, you always feel like you’re home.”
When Eastwood first saw the Mission Ranch, it was clear that he had found his mission. Today, it’s getting close to being done. It’s something he should be happy about.