Hot Property: A romantic ranch in La Honda

In 1975, Debbie Ettinger, a self-described “nature freak,” was living in a cabin in La Honda, when she decided she needed more space. She began looking for acreage, at first in Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

Ultimately, she found her dream right next door, 5 miles further into the hills from La Honda, at 8700 Alpine Road.

“I was looking for the prettiest ranch I could find,” she recalls. “This came up. It was so beautiful. It really is about the prettiest spot in San Mateo County.”

Thirty-two years later, her children grown and “city people” anyway, Ettinger has put her beloved ranch on the market for $7,500,000.

Alpine Ranch includes 353 acres; redwoods and meadows; a barn and paddock; a new guest house; and the original 3,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch house built between 1860 and 1870.

The home was part of a proposed wedding present from local attorney Ridgeway Rowley to Fanny Page, daughter of a wealthy mill owner.

“He said, ‘Marry me and we can live on this ranch,’” says listing agent Patricia Wyrod of Sotheby’s.

“[The house] was built with square nails and redwood that was milled on the property, lovingly built,” Ettinger said.

Unfortunately, Fanny Page turned down the offer. Broken-hearted, Rowley lived as a bachelor on the ranch for the rest of his life.

A nearby ranch of slightly more than 1,000 acres recently sold to the Peninsula Open Space Trust for $28,000,000, making Alpine Ranch something of a bargain.

“I had hoped to keep it in the family, but I think that somebody else could benefit more,” Ettinger said. She sees an equestrian as good fit, or even someone with plans to create an organic farm. “It’s good soil.”

Maybe someone could buy it as a wedding present, then sit on the porch and watch the sunset, while the ghost of Ridgeway Rowley float nearby, finally satisfied.

lrosen@examiner.com  

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