Livermore is known for wineries and beautiful landscapes, but there’s a lot of history here too. One of our favorite local historic sites is Ravenswood, a restored Victorian country estate. (See more of our favorite local recommendations in our free area vacation guide.)
Ravenswood Historical Site was built by Christopher Augustine Buckley, Sr. He was known as the “Blind Boss” of San Francisco politics in the 1870s and 1880s. From 1885 to 1920, Buckley and his family spent their summers in the heart of Livermore Valley at this extravagant estate. The 100-acre vineyard was certainly a compelling reason to visit!
The Story of Ravenswood Historical Site
At the turn of the century, the Buckleys were considered one of the first families of Livermore, donating generously to local charities. In San Francisco, Chris Sr. may have been known as the Blind Boss, but in the valley, he was often called the “Lord of Livermore.”
In 1931, the estate was acquired by a Catholic order, the Redemptorist Fathers. Called “Villa San Clemente” by the priests, Ravenswood served as their religious retreat for more than 30 years. In 1968, Ravenswood was purchased by developer Masud Mehran, who gave the core 32.6 acres to be used as a park.
The 1891 Main House and 1885 Tank House were restored by LARPD in 1979. The 1885 Cottage was restored in 1986. Ravenswood is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a State of California Historical Point of Interest and is a City of Livermore Historic Preservation Landmark Site.
Come visit the Ravenswood Historical Site and enjoy a free tour given by costumed docents. (Free tours happen every second and fourth Sundays of each month, except the fourth Sunday in December, from noon to 4 p.m.)
Tours begin every 20 minutes and take approximately one hour, with the last tour of the day starting at 3 pm. Each tour includes the 1885 Cottage, the 1891 Main House, and the beautifully landscaped grounds.
If you’d like to schedule a private guided group tour, the price is $5 per person for private guided group tours. All buildings are handicap accessible and there are public restrooms on site. For information on group tours, please call the LARPD Facilities Office at (925) 373-5708.
Two annual community events are held at Ravenswood: the Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Social on the second Sunday in August and the Victorian Yuletide on the second Sunday in December.
This year’s Yuletide event will be Sunday, December 8th from noon to 4 pm. This free holiday event will wow you with beautiful Victorian decorations, and you’ll also enjoy drinks and desserts, entertainment, buggy rides, and a visit with Old St. Nicholas, as well as a holiday gift shop.
Why not give yourself a holiday (or pre-holiday season) treat by indulging in a spa getaway here at The Purple Orchid. Located in the heart of Livermore, our relaxing retreat and olive grove is convenient to all of Livermore’s wonderful sites and activities—find out all our recommendations in our free area vacation guide.