Greenhill Ranch, aka The Green Ranch
Elevation 2,440 ft.
We call Greenhill Ranch the “Shaman’s Redoubt” because we think it likely that shamen worshipping on Mt. Diablo used this beautiful site as a camp/staging area. In 1938-9 William Wurster, later to become Dean of the Architecture Department at Cal Berkeley (Wurster Hall is named for him), designed a summer/country house for Robert and Deborah Green of Berkeley. Wurster called his creation a “living porch.” The State of California acquired Greenhill Ranch in 1965 and demolished the house in 1993–a crying shame in our opinion.
The Morgan Fire of September 2013 swept over Greenhill Ranch, scorching but not severely damaging the structures at this site. The major casualties were two large wooden water tanks–not part of the original Wurster-designed complex–which were incinerated. Most under-story plants here are now ashes or blackened skeletons, and at least two charred trees have fallen over already. The Morgan Fire hit nearby Alder Creek hard, and it will be interesting to see how the landscape recovers in ensuing years.
Visit the California Digital Library’s website to view photos and drawings of Greenhill Ranch.
Massive chimneys and tile floors are about all that remains of Wurster’s living porch at Greenhill Ranch. Nearby the swimming pool, tennis courts, waterworks, and foundations of several outbuildings decay with each passing year.
Read about life at Greenhill Ranch in Deborah Green Seymour’s article in the Spring 2005 issue of Mount Diablo Review. The article begins on page 3.