Serendipity was at work when newspaperman E.W. Scripps came to California in 1890 to see his ailing sister, Annie (Julia Anne), in Alameda. Seeing that she was on the road to recovery, he boarded a steamship for a four-day visit to San Diego. He didn’t think much of it, describing it as a “busted, broken down boom town,” but as he traveled north, he became more and more excited. The climate and the foliage reminded him of Algeria, one of the few places in the world where he had remained free of colds that had plagued him all his life. Arriving at a barren, arid mesa 16 miles from town, he decided to build a home, Miramar, named after the Archduke Maximilian’s castle in Trieste, Italy.
Scripps went on to purchase 400 acres of what is now Scripps Ranch. Eventually their ownership grew to 2100 acres, which was at the time considered a ridiculous investment in stony, desert land.
The winter home that Scripps and his wife built was modeled after architecture in North Africa, and some trees from his original estate still stand in the Scripps Ranch Swim and Raquet Club on Aviary Drive.
~ By Elinor Reiss, Adapted from the Scripps Ranch Civic Association Website.