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The history of the ranch began with James Irvine. He joined two others owning the property before becoming the sole owner of it in 1878. After his death in 1886, his son James Irvine II (J.I.) became the successor of his father’s ranch. The ranch grew significantly and transformed into a successful, multifunctional ranch. J.I. added extra bunkhouses and employee housing on Foreman’s Row. 

Every building located on the Ranch represents an integral part of the growth, operation, and maintenance of the land. The Ranch stands as an important part of Orange County and California’s agricultural history and tells the story of a unique generation and tradition.

Orange County Parks adopted a Master Planning Program that established the prime historic period from 1876 to 1947 as a guide for future restoration and interpretation of the historic property.

The Katie Wheeler Branch Library has recreated the exterior of the Irvine family home on its original site and adapted the structure to provide library services.

The former agricultural headquarters offices have undergone stabilization and rehabilitation. They now serve as the headquarters of OC Parks.