The story of Holman Ranch is truly unique; a special story about a wonderful place that began when California was still part of Mexico. Under the Crown of Spain, the ranch was part of the lands bestowed to the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo. When the Mexican government secularized the mission lands, one of the first ranchers in Carmel Valley, Don Jose Manuel Boronda, was granted the Los Laureles Rancho—6,625 acres that included what is now Holman Ranch. Their ranch passed through many hands until the Pacific Improvements Company acquired it in 1882.
In 1928, a San Francisco businessman, Gordon Armsby, was attracted to the rich farmland and leisurely pace of Carmel Valley, and purchased 600 acres in the Los Laureles area of the Valley, including what would be Holman Ranch.
Armsby hired Clarence Tantau (of Del Monte Hotel fame) to design the home that would reside on his new property. Tantau and Armsby chose a classic Spanish-style hacienda, which proffered impressive stone walls—all built from local Carmel stone. They installed handmade Mexican terracotta roofing and hand-carved oak-beamed ceilings. Nestled in a stand of mature oaks, nicknamed “Casa Escondida”, or “Hidden House”, the estate served as an exclusive hideaway for many Hollywood celebrities including Charlie Chaplin and Theda Bara.