We had the honor and privilege of attending our second wedding in two weekends. The venue was perfect for an outdoor ceremony followed by an indoor reception.
Driving on the beautiful back roads of Vacaville, California, we turned into a gravel road and were instructed to park in the open fields of this spacious ranch. Neither of us have been here before though we have driven by this location several times in the past years.
As we walked towards the crowd, we found our seats under some shade as the sun was beginning its descent. The gazebo was the focal point of the proceedings. The ceremony was concise and I am sure the family members in the first couple of rows were very thankful for that as they sat in the hot sun.
As we turned our attention to the reception, I saw an old friend standing in the shadows. She was a volunteer and I knew that I would catch up with her soon. During a break before the bride and groom reappeared, I stepped outside and bumped into my friend.
Then she told me some amazing facts about the Joyful Ranch.
She informed me that the barn where the reception was being held (and where the bridal party emerged from earlier) was built in 1880 – WHAT???
The team of volunteers restored that building recently as the granddaughter of Mr. W.J. Pleasants (of Pleasants Valley for the local folks) wanted to preserve her grandfather’s land. This property used to be 4000+ acres of open land but reduced to 406 acres for the present day. Her family owned this land since 1850.
Furthermore, their foundation is dedicated to what is left of this great property. To preserve this ranch for perpetuity, a conservation easement was placed in January 2003 on 366 acres. There are 13 buildings on this ranch that are now on the National and State Historical Registers of Significant Places. What an honor!
Oh, did I mention the Victorian house built by Mr. Pleasants in 1891 and will be the next restoration project by these volunteers? This building is also included in the National and State Historical Registers of Significant Places.
Learning these facts, I had a different feeling about the venue as I slowly walked the grounds to appreciate what it may have looked like many years ago. It was truly amazing!
The tipping point was when we stood in the food reception line – I noticed an original picture of the barn dating back to the early 1920’s. The restoration of this barn was breathtaking. One could never imagine the age of the wood and panels.
Alas it was time to leave this glorious ranch. Driving away, my heart felt warm as I was blessed to attend the wedding but more importantly, I was especially honored that the original family loved their community so much that they chose to preserve the ground we walked on and share its historical sites with many guests over the years.
It was magnificent and an experience I will never forget. It was definitely a walk back in time.
Oh yes, CONGRATULATIONS to the newlyweds too!