Now home to Barnyard Theatre, this historic structure was built by German immigrant Gottfried Schmeiser in the 1860s. The story of the barn, as written by Carla Hunt—one of the current Schmeiser Ranch residents and property owners—is as follows:
In the mid-1800s, Gottfried Schmeiser, a young carpenter, left Germany for the New World. After obtaining a land grant signed by Ulysses S. Grant, he headed west to "settle" his land. By 1868, he had built a lovely home, planted fields of wheat and an almond orchard, and married his neighbor, Sophia Oeste, for which Oeste Drive is named. (See also Theodore Schmeiser.)
Gottfried and Sophia Schmeiser raised six children in the house that still stands on the property. Only one of the six children wanted to continue the family farm, and that child was a daughter! As unusual as it was at that time for a single woman to run a farm, Elmine Schmeiser did a bang-up job. Some Yolo County old-timers still remember Elmine, who lived well into her eighties and ran the 160-acre Schmeiser Ranch.
The ranch was next taken care of by neighbor Doc Russell, whose ranch house is still visible just south of Schmeiser Ranch. When Doc Russell passed on, he willed the land to UCD for agricultural research. The fields surrounding the homestead are owned by UCD, and leased to well-known Yolo County farmer Jack Meek.
For some time, the beautiful house and barns were rented out to students, and the homestead steadily declined. The current barn is the "new" barn, built in 1893. The "old" barn with its attached water cistern burned to the ground while students still rented the land. Fortunately, the home was saved. Soon after, Tosi Marceline and Phil Kitchen rented the homestead and started a family and a business there, the Three Palms Nursery, which is still in operation at Russell Boulevard and County Road 95A.
For 20 years, Phil and Tosi loved the homestead and cared for it, making historically accurate renovations and maintaining the lovely home and barn. In 1996, the university put the house and nine surrounding acres up for sale. Charles and Carla Hunt (who, like the Schmeisers before them, have six children), bought the Schmeiser Ranch and continue to treasure it. [The current barn is operational], filled with horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, barn cats, chickens and 4-H kids.