In 1924, married matinee idols Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford purchased 800 acres in Rancho Santa Fe, planning to establish a citrus grove and palatial residence. Agricultural uses were established and a Wallace Neff-designed dream home was in the works when Fairbanks and Pickford divorced in 1936. Fairbanks kept the ranch and would live there with his second wife Sylvia Ashley until his death in 1939. The widowed Ashley inherited the property and continued agricultural operations. In 1949, Ashley wed legendary actor Clark Gable. In 1952, Ashley and Gable divorced, and the property—still maintained as an orange grove—was sold.
The Fairbanks property and adjoining lands to total 1240 acres were purchased by developer Ray Watt in 1977 to create an exclusive community of 618 estate. Watt’s new development was ideally situated near the Pacific Ocean, Del Mar Racetrack, and Rancho Santa Fe. Watt called his development “Fairbanks Ranch” in honor of the land’s unique history, and protective covenants were enacted to maintain its natural beauty and harmony amongst parcels.
Fairbanks Ranch consists of two gated communities—“Del Sur” and “Del Norte,” or “North” and “South”—that are divided by the now public San Dieguito Road. At the 2000 census, the total population of Fairbanks Ranch was 2,244 persons with a median household income in excess of $200,000 per annum, making it one of the nation’s most prestigious residential enclaves. In 1982, the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club’s then undeveloped golf course was chosen as the site for the 1984 Olympics’ Equestrian Endurance event. Today, the private club of member-residents still displays some of the equestrian jumps used in the Olympics in memory of this honor.
Fairbanks Ranch Homes for Sale