The history of land stewardship began long before the Irvine Company.
It began more than 200 years ago with the establishment of Spanish and Mexican land grants. In order to obtain a grant, a case had to be presented to the King’s representatives ensuring a solid plan was in place to “care for the land.” This early commitment to stewardship had a profound effect on all subsequent owners of The Irvine Ranch®, as the land was most valuable when held together as one complete parcel.
The Irvine Ranch was assembled by James Irvine I and two partners in 1864 from Mexican and Spanish land grants. In 1876, Irvine bought out his partners, and continued farming the land. When he died in 1886, his son, James Irvine Jr., inherited the land at age 19. Shortly thereafter, Irvine and a friend rode their high-wheel bicycles from San Francisco to Orange County to inspect his inheritance. In 1894 James Irvine Jr., incorporated the land holdings as The Irvine Company.
The ranch that James Irvine purchased in 1876 has remained intact and in private ownership. Rich in history, The Irvine Ranch land is considered a precious and nonrenewable resource, an asset not to be sold or squandered for short-term gain, but to be held onto and used in ways that are carefully planned to benefit those who choose to live and work here.
A key point is that the company has always understood its deep responsibilities as a landowner, and as steward. An important part of the company’s role as steward is understanding the land’s importance to the public as well. That’s why, in 1897, the company donated to the people of Orange County the beautiful land that today is Irvine Regional Park. It was one of the most popular spots in the county over a hundred years ago… and remains so to this day.