About the Ranch
A True California Treasure
The Kemper Campbell Ranch is a private estate and working cattle ranch located in the High Desert of Southern California. Positioned on a secluded oasis in the Mojave River Valley, the Ranch abounds with Joshua Trees, desert succulents, idyllic green pastures, impressive boulder formations, the Mojave River and its surrounding cottonwood forest, all against a mountain backdrop. Our adobe Main House, built in 1929, has been featured in a number of architecture books, including Rancho Deluxe and Mediterranean Houses in America. In 1940 Herman Mankiewicz wrote the script for Citizen Kane while staying at the Ranch. This story was recently depicted in Netflix's Mank, directed by David Fincher and starring Gary Oldman, which was filmed at the Ranch. Once a guest ranch that hosted stars from Old Hollywood, the Ranch has once again opened its doors.
Nearly a century in the making
The Ranch, originally 4000 acres in size, was acquired in 1924 by Kemper and Litta Belle Campbell, both prominent Los Angeles attorneys. At the time it was called the Verde Ranch. In 1929, the Campbells enlisted John Byers, the well-known architect and builder noted for his Spanish Colonial Revival buildings, to design their home on the Ranch. The Main House and the adjacent guest rooms, were built of adobe bricks made from clay, sand and straw found on the Ranch. After the Main House was built, the Campbells decided to relocate and make the Ranch their family's primary residence. They raised their three children there while they continued to split their time between Victorville and Los Angeles.
In addition to numerous agricultural operations including crops, beef cattle, and a dairy, the family operated a guest ranch on the property from 1930 to 1975. Guests rode horses, played tennis, swam in the enormous pool, and enjoyed the three amazing meals served daily in the Main House dining rooms. Located just two hours from Los Angeles, the Ranch hosted all sorts of guests, from Old Hollywood stars (John Wayne, Greer Garson, Groucho Marx and Greta Garbo, to name a few). Notably, Herman Mankiewicz wrote much of the script that would become Citizen Kane during his 3-month stay at the guest ranch in 1940. This was recently dramatized in Netflix's Mank, directed by David Fincher and starring Gary Oldman, which was filmed on location at the Ranch, where the true events took place. Beyond the Hollywood set, the Ranch was host to authors, families and, during World War II, pilots from the RAF training at a nearby base. The Ranch was renamed the Kemper Campbell Ranch in 1945, after the Campbells' oldest son, Kemper Jr., was killed in the War.
The family closed the guest ranch in 1975, but the property continues to function as a working cattle ranch and home to some. In recent years, the Ranch has opened its doors again as a vacation rental for those who seek its timeless charm and beautiful scenery. The Ranch remains under the ownership of the Campbell family, now the grandsons and great-grandchildren of the couple that started it all.