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Meiners Oaks

An Ojai Valley Neighborhood

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About Meiners Oaks

Meiners Oaks is an eclectic neighborhood of older 1940 to 1960 style homes. The Meiners Oaks Neighborhood, which borders the city of Ojai is located between highways 150 and 33 with the main roads being La Luna and El Roblar.

Once the ranch and orchard of John Meiner, the neighborhood was subdivided and homes were built after World War II.

The area is still spotted with orange orchards. From almost every area of of this neighborhood you will have a view of the surrounding Los Padres Mountains.

Most of the Meiners Oaks homes you find here sit on standard size lots. Some homes along La Luna have one to five acres.

If you travel down El Roblar you are in the heart of Meiners Oaks. Stop in at the "Farmer And The Cook" for the best Chai, home made bread and muffins, organic veggies and home cooked lunches in the area. A personal favorite is their world famous "nut loaf" which is served only on Wednesdays.

You know you are in a small town when you see an Ace Hardware Store and Meiners Oaks is home to the very best Ace Store in the county. The residents love their little "down home" hardware store where the prices are very competitive to those of the large stores in Ventura.

Meiners Oaks, some of the best "vittles" and cuisine in the Ojai Valley

Meiners Oaks is also home of the famous Ranch House Restaurant. Hidden away on Lomita Ave. next to the Oak Grove School the Ranch House is a gourmet restaurant famed for original award winning cuisine. Here you dine in an exquisite garden setting next to meandering streams and lush foliage. They have a Wine Spectator Grand Award Winning wine list with approximately 650 selections to tempt you.

If the fancy wines and garden settings of the Ranch House is too much for you and you just want a darn good steak or some wild Venison you will need to check out the Deer Lodge located along Highway 33 in Meiners Oaks. Tucked in at the base of the Matilija Canyon, The Deer Lodge Tavern is reminiscent of a different era. Wood and stone blend to create this landmark bar and restaurant. Once the last outpost of an untamed wilderness, it now shines as a popular gathering place for both locals and visitors alike.

A History of Meiners Oaks

Meiners Oaks, a community where nearly every home is under a Live Oak tree, takes its name from John Meiners, who owned the large area for many years.

John Meiners, native of Germany, had come to the United States about 1848 and had established a successful brewery business in Milwaukee. He acquired his Ojai ranch in the seventies, sight unseen, as a result of an unpaid debt. When he heard that his friend, Edward D. Holton, a Milwaukee banker, was going to California for a brief trip, Meiners asked him to see the property he had acquired. Mr. Holton’s evaluation was, “It is the most beautiful valley I have ever seen.”

Upon investigating his new property, John Meiners found that he owned what was perhaps the largest oak grove on level land in Southern California, much of it so dense that the ground was in continuous shade. Furthermore, to his surprise, Meiners discovered that the climate of the valley was good for his asthma.

For a long time, the oak grove was fenced and provided a pasture for a large herd of hogs. All traffic from Ojai to Matilija went on a private road through the Meiners property, using a gate which was supposed to be kept closed. So many people went through the gate without closing it that in 1893, the manager of the ranch, P.W. Soper, locked the gate. With the Meiners road closed, the only way of getting the mail to Matilija by stagecoach was a roundabout one by Rice Road.

A news item in “The Ojai” related that, as Rice Road has been flooded, “the mail was sent up to Matilija last night on horseback, the rider going across the back hill country . . .” However, Mr. Soper later gave several keys to A.W. Blumberg, operator of Matilija Hot Springs, with the stipulation that they were to be used only by mail carriers and scheduled stage coach drivers.

In 1896, the big barn on the Meiners ranch, located approximately where the Ranch House Restaurant is now, caught fire one evening about midnight. No fire-fighting equipment was available. Twenty horses, many tons of hay, harness, and farm implements were completely destroyed. “The Ojai” of February 15, 1896 reported . . . “Mr. Meiners built a large temporary barn on Monday, and the work of the great ranch goes on energetically.”

The Milwaukee brewer lived on his ranch intermittently from the 1880s until his death in the valley in 1898. His original big house still stands on the hill above the Ranch House Restaurant and is now used by the Happy Valley School.

John Meiners organized his ever-increasing acreage into a very productive ranch. Several hundred acres to the north of the oak grove were planted in oranges, lemons, prunes, apricots and apples. P.W. Soper, father of the late “Pop” Soper, was general manager of the Meiners Ranch and lessee of 90 acres of Texas red oats, 90 acres of wheat and 200 acres of barley. A visitor who toured the ranch with Mr. Meiners in 1897 wrote, “At the Meiners Ranch we saw stalks of oats that measured 7 feet 7 inches.”

To visualize the vast area, the ranch can be described as bounded on the south by the hills of the Happy Valley School, on the west by Rice Road, on the north by the foothills near Cozy Dell Canyon and on the east by a line running through the junction of Highway 33 and El Roblar Street, north and south.

The forebears of several of the present-day residents of the Ojai Valley came here as a result of John Meiners’ interest in his ranch. The granddaughters of Edward D. Holton, who made the original favorable report concerning the ranch of Mr. Meiners and the Ojai Valley, are Misses Alice and Helen Robertson of the east valley, and his granddaughter, Mrs. Anson Thacher. Otto Busch came to the ranch as manager in 1907, and his son George Busch, now retired, was one of Ojai’s postmasters. By Ed Wenig

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