The four ranch houses that sit high atop Doe Ridge were built in the early 1940’s by Theron “Roy” Hedgpeth, a gifted inventor.
During the Great Depression Mr. Hedgpeth was renting a room above a warehouse in Oakland for $1 a month. He watched World War I era battleships coming into San Francisco Bay and saw how the seams in the steel hulls were being torn open by the moorings. In those days, the arduous task of heating rivets and fashioning steel repair plates by hand was the only method to keep ships operational.
His breakthrough invention was an electric drill that could be used to bore holes for bolts in the ships, drastically cutting repair time. His invention revolutionized American ship building and repair.
Soon after, he patented a circular saw mounted on two pipes that slid back and forth. The radial arm saw was born.
He went on to patent many industrial and homeowner tools that are still commonplace today. His first catalog sales for a tool division was with Montgomery Ward, and later he founded the entire tool division for Sears and Roebuck.
The Hedgpeths built the Guest House next door for entertaining. One of his most famous guests was Alfred Hitchcock. In the far bedroom in the Guest House you will see a rifle cabinet with glass sliding doors. You’ll also notice what appears to be a Murphy bed encasement – it is actually a fly rod and fishing pole cabinet.
When guests came, horses would be stabled in the Carriage House, which features the same knotty pine tongue and groove paneling as in the Guest House and is also used in Will Rogers’ historic ranch house in Pacific Palisades.
The house between the Guest House and Carriage House was originally built for the property caretaker, and today serves as the Ranch Manager’s house.
Mr. Hedgpeth was quite philanthropic and helped raise money for charities. He was a major contributor in the building of Memorial Hospital, a partner in the Flamingo hotel – all still in operation today. He also opened the Topaz Room in Santa Rosa – a famous restaurant in the late 1940’s and 1950’s whereby celebrities such as Sid Caesar and Jane Mansfield would visit to raise money for charities in the growing town.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hedgpeth developed medical problems. One night in the winter of 1955, he was rushed to the hospital during a snowstorm. On the higher elevations of Skaggs Springs Rd there was two feet of snow- an extremely unusual event. Nearby Skirball Ranch used their bulldozer to push snow off the road so the Hedgpeths could make it to the hospital.
Within a few years, the Hedgpeths moved to Santa Rosa, and the Ranch was sold. Unfortunately, the new owners weren’t able to make a go of it, and after a tragic and untimely death in the family, the ranch ended up on the auction block.
In 1962, James P. Soper III saw the public notice and was high bidder for the ranch on behalf of the family business, Soper-Wheeler Company. The ranch house complex opened as a vacation rental and wedding venue in the 1970’s and has become a popular getaway with most every weekend reserved year-round.
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