In 1893 George B. Key and his wife Mary came to Placentia, where he was the superintendent of the 110-acre Southern California Semi-Tropical Fruit Company Ranch, owned by Richard Gilman. That year Mr. and Mrs. Key purchased twenty acres on the northwest corner of what is now Placentia Avenue and Bastanchury Road.
Mr. Key planted approximately twelve acres of the ranch in Valencia Oranges of San Gabriel Stock. (Two of the original trees remain.) This made one of the finest groves in the County.
In 1898, Mr. Key built a two-and-a-half-story home on the ranch, which he moved into with his wife and children. The house was completed in 1908.
The hand-made concrete block porch with pillars was added, as well as an addition to the south side of the house and a second-story balcony. The water tank and windmill were removed from the roof of the house and a tank house was built with a gasoline-driven pump. A bathroom was built on the second floor where there were five bedrooms. The first floor included a kitchen, large service porch, workroom, music room, living room, library, and a very large dining room. The attic was finished for a bedroom.
George G. Key (George B. Key's son) purchased the ranch from his siblings in 1944. He began collecting farm equipment from neighboring ranches in the late 1950s, around the time many of the local growers began to sell their land for sub-division. Over the next 20 years, portions of the ranch were sold, until in 1980, only the 2.2 acres which now makes up the park, remained.
The County of Orange purchased Key Ranch to ensure the preservation of an important part of Orange County's agricultural past.
Museum... The collection offers a close look at dry farming and citrus farming equipment used in the late 1800s. There is also an extensive collection of blacksmith and carpenter's tools, as well as artifacts relating to Placentia and north Orange County history. The Verse Garden has evolved into a collection of specimen trees (oak, palm, cedar, pine, pepper) and flowering shrubs and plants. Excerpts from Mr. Key's published verse have been incorporated into the garden design.
Orange Grove... Key Ranch was one of the original Sunkist orange groves in Orange County. The ranch is still a working citrus ranch, which includes 1 acre of the original 12-acre grove.