The 8,500 square foot Santa Margarita Ranch House (circa 1827) was and remains the center of ranch and Marine Corps Base life.
This magnificent building is a stunning example of early ranch architecture in California, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. The Ranch House was the home of Pio Pico, last governor of Mexican California, and succeeding owners Don Juan Forster, the O’Neills, Floods, Baumgartners, and finally the families of 35 Marine Corps General Officers.
Although unoccupied at the present time, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton maintains the property in its present state while awaiting funding of an extensive upgrade project in 2018 of the structure to comply with earthquake stabilization requirements.
The Camp Pendleton Historical Society (CPHS) has held its annual fundraising events at the Ranch House and Board of Directors meetings there. CPHS has also supported several exhibits at the Ranch House that the Base History and Museum Division has produced, such as the display of paintings by Marine Corps Combat Artist, Col Charles Waterhouse, USMCR, of the Vietnamese refugee operation at Camp Pendleton in 1975.