Hacienda Lane Ranch
Frances Lane Loves To Watch Things Grow
By AMY ROSETE
Frances Lane stands at the top of her lush expanse of lawn offering up a Frisbee to her lively black Labrador. Behind her, the ranch house she calls home stands proud, hugged by flourishing Boston Ivy. Flowers and trees thrive in every direction.
The Spanish tiled gazebo is back-dropped by her three proud horses wandering through their lavish corrals. Surrounding it all are the flower-laden hills of the Antelope Valley.
“I’ve never been a mover,” Lane says. “I like to watch things grow.”
For all of her life that is exactly what Lane has done.
As we walk through her home, she recalls her personal history, and the history of the Antelope Valley, with flawless detail.
Frances and her family have truly ‘watched things grow.’ During the walk she points out pictures of the Valley and members of her family from as early as 1914.
Among them are pictures of what may have been Lancaster Boulevard in 1914, a panoramic view of Lancaster blanketed in snow in 1947 and a photograph of her grandparents taken under the largest Joshua tree in the valley that was once near Avenue K and 60th St. West.
The house is rich with history, but that’s not all. It is also rich with life, specifically, the life of Frances Lane.
The Lane family first settled in the Antelope Valley in 1908. Lane’s grandfather and Grandmother Lane were introduced at the Western Hotel in Lancaster by the hotel’s proprietor, Mertie Weber. The couple was married in 1913.
A spectacular display of her grandmother’s wedding dress and the ring pillow from the wedding, which was crocheted by her great-grandmother, decorate one hallway of the house.
Frances Lane was born on Lancaster Boulevard in 1939 and spent the first part of her life in an area of the Valley now known 10th St. West and Avenue I. Later, her family relocated to their own ranch.
She attended Antelope Valley Joint Union High School and was crowned Miss Quartz Hill before graduating in 1957.
After high school, Frances showed horses for many years. “I’ve always had horses,” she says. “No matter what else I may be doing, I’ve always remained active with the horses.”
In the early 1960’s, she became a stewardess for American Airlines. Frances spent three years as a stewardess based out of Dallas and San Francisco.
“That was a time when you had to be unmarried and under 32 to be a stewardess,” she recalls.
Her old caps hang like medals above a picture of her in uniform.
“It was such a fancy job,” she says with a smile.
When her job with American Airlines ended, Frances spent many years barrel racing in rodeos. Pictures of her riding her horse, Glass Eyes, adorn one wall of her special ‘gallery room.’ Her niece now races in what is becoming a family tradition.
“She races much more than I ever did,” Lane says.
In between barrel races, Frances did some modeling for a friend’s agency while living in Fresno.
“I did that for about 10 years,” she recalls, “but that was just a part time fun thing.”
After returning home she joined the Model’s Auxiliary. Photographs of Lane and her modeling friends fill one corner of the gallery. Once a month they get together and have dinner.
At about the same time, Frances also took on the role of painter. She painted with a Russian artist whose workshops she attended in Idaho. She also took several art classes in Mexico. At one point, her entire house was her studio and she spent time painting everyday. Her artwork surrounds you as you ascend the spiral staircase in an atrium just off her bedroom. Pictures of the desert and poppies embrace the area.
“I entered the fair one year and ended up winning best of show the first time!” she says.
In the late 1990’s, she rode with the Death Valley Wagon Train on two different occasions. She displays a picture of her on the mule from one of her trips.
“It was a really neat experience,” she reflects, “but it was certainly real camping. I took my tent up and down everyday for a week. After doing that two years in a row, I was pretty much done.”
After growing up in a family of ranchers, Frances Lane is now the proud owner of her own homestead. Hacienda Lane Ranch is tucked down in a valley in the Southern Hills of the Antelope Valley.
“I could have built on top of a hill, but I love looking at these mountains, and it’s a nice feeling to be nestled in and secluded,” she says.
The house is truly magnificent. Each plant is impeccably trimmed while still exhibiting a natural flow. The trees surrounding the drive and the lawn are adorned with strands of tiny white lights. Iris and rose bushes border her covered carport. An impressive Spanish style fountain greets guests on the west side of the driveway. The lawn is a vibrant green and impeccably manicured. Everything is set off by the tall ranch house covered in ivy.
In addition to caring for the ranch, Lane plays host to numerous community events throughout the year. In the past, she has hosted events for the Los Angeles Medical Association, the Civil Military & the Woman’s Rotary Club. This year, she will add the Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Junior Chamber, to her list of guests. Lane also hosts a Ladies Flower Walk each May.
“I love to entertain and this is such a great place for it,” she says.
However, it’s not just community events that Frances entertains. She has also had the great joy of witnessing numerous marriages over the years. Dozens of friends and family have spoken their vows under her tiled Spanish gazebo. Lane enjoys making her own personal paradise available to as many friends and family as possible. Her beautiful ivy covered balcony overlooking the lavish grounds, has afforded many a bride with the perfect wedding pictures.
“I just like to make things nice for people and I enjoy making everything around me look pretty,” she says.
So, what’s next for this remarkable lady? Her answer - “I am always looking for new ways to improve things around the ranch. I believe that where you live… it can be your own little palace. The ranch is like my little oasis and I love making it beautiful.”
She also plans on hosting special events and weddings and will be continuing to add to her expansive collection of Antelope Valley history.
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HACIENDA LANE RANCH - TUCKED AWAY IN A LITTLE VALLEY NEAR QUARTZ HILL.
The Ranch is now home of the California quail being protected by Frances from hunters. Hunters at one time considered this area as one of the best places for quail hunting for many years, it was a popular place for hunters and card players to be entertained by fire place in the cabin where William Plecity, the Eskimo Pie Man from Los Angeles entertained his friends. The history is a big part of the ranch, but the fireplace and the trees are the most recognizable, as the remodel was major to turn this to mission style hacienda.
The Ranch has been owned first by William Helfrich from Finland, who homesteaded the property. The second owner was William Plecity, the Eskimo Pie Man from Los Angles, who bought the property in a tax sale. The third time the property was purchased and is now Hacienda Lane Ranch.
The ranch has been a hidden paradise since the turn of the century; it is where the desert ends and the foothills begin. The first address was Box 1, Palmdale, and Ca. when William P. Helfrich (1876-1938) homesteaded here in the Belleview (Quartz Hill) district of the Antelope Valley. Helfrich was a bachelor from Finland. He planted almond trees and lived in a little one-room house, it was where my bedroom is now. He was recognized as an authority on astronomy and weather forecasting. Helfrich was the Bellview school clerk and served on the District board. Upon the death of Helfrich the property went to a tax sale, as he did not have family in this country.
My Dad, Frank Lane tells of Mr. Helfrich walking down to my Grandparents for Thanksgiving and bringing almonds from his orchard. They were glad to have him share the day and he always got a ride home, he lived so far back in these hills and did not have a car for many years. Neighbors always were helping him when he finally got a car; they said he was not too mechanical. Dad also told me that before Godde Hill Road was built, the pass at the bottom of this canyon was the trail for wagons, horses and buggies from Antelope Valley to Leona Valley. Believe it or not I had friends, Mike and Flora Herman family and friends that drove their wagon and team of mules over here from Leona Valley one day, so it still can be done. They took the low road at the bottom of the canyon where there is a gate.
My Grandfather, George W. Lane had property adjoining the ranch and was a friend of William Plecity. He told Plecity about the upcoming tax sale. Then Mr. Plecity, the “Eskimo Pie Man”, from Los Angeles bought the ranch. He then leased property to my Grandfather to dry farm, which did not last long planting in the hills. Today there is still volunteer wild oats coming up on part of the hills from that time.
Frances Godde was among Plecity’s good friends, He would see him often, visiting him here at the ranch, enjoying a good time playing cards and catching up on the local news.
William Plecity, the Eskimo Pie Man from Los Angeles, bought this property for his weekend hunters’ cabin; he entertained his friends with card games and quail hunting. He built a cabin with a 50-gallon drum for his septic tank; the fire system was lard buckets full of water placed around the house. He built a nice rock fireplace, which is part of the house today. The windmill, spring, and the wonderful trees he planted are still a big part of the ranch. William Plecity was quite a pioneer and interesting man. There was a spring on the property, but Plecity dug a well and had a windmill. He had pipe all over the place to water the trees, he came up on weekends to enjoy the country, water the trees and enjoy the many friends he made here.
One day there was a hand painted for sale sign on Godde Hill Road, that is when I found out this old ranch was for sale. There was a little overgrown dirt trail coming back to the cabin with a sign “ARMED GUARD ON DUTY NO TRESPASSING.” Scared to come back, it was spooky, but curiosity overpowered fear and looked around anyway. There had not been anyone here for a long time, in the kitchen area a table was all set to eat, but nobody ate after setting the table. There was even salt and pepper on the table. I was trying to figure out when the last time anyone had ever been here, as there were some things left in the house, although it looked like no one had been here in years.
After the property was purchased Mr. Plecity came to pick up what he wanted. There was not much to take and he left the rest to sort through. His wife had died years before and I felt like I wanted to preserve something of hers so I kept her poem book. It was strange sorting through someone else’s belongings, trying to save what no one else wanted. I was even picking up old newspapers and Saturday Evening Post magazines out in the bushes; later I wallpapered part of the house with them, they were antique and survived the weather for many years
I can remember as a kid looking down the canyon and wondered who lived back there. It was like a mystery and little did I know that someday it would be me. I must have planted the seed just thinking about it and now enjoy the place and all the work that goes with it. He could not have sold the ranch to anyone that would appreciate what he had done more than I.
I looked forward to his visit once a year, when he came up for the old-timers Barbecue.
What is rare in California is there have only been three owners of the property. The first time it was homesteaded, the second time it was purchased at a tax sale and the third time purchased from the owner. The ranch is a result of what all of us have done since the turn of the century; it is a place that will never be finished, as there is room for more imagination. The fun part is working at it.
Living here has been a privilege and a pilgrimage into so many new worlds, water drainage and flood control down the driveway, road maintenance, fire breaks, building arts, horticulture, preservation, fountain and pump experts, pond people, roofers, veterinarians, horseshoes, trail riders, hunters, aerial photographers, surveyors and trespassers to name a few.
Hacienda Lane Ranch has been a fun journey, an adventure, a challenge, an exercise in delayed gratification, a work in progress, a wild ride, a labor of love.
Hacienda Lane Ranch for many years has been a place for horses, trail rides, community events, fund-raisers, weddings, wildflower walks, barbecues, dancing and fun. It is a pleasure to share with those who like the charm and essence of Hacienda Lane Ranch.