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Leo Carrillo Ranch Restoration Projects

Leo Carrillo barbecueLeo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is a work in progress.

Phase II restoration of the park included the addition of important infrastructure such as roads, parking, walkways, building stabilization and renovation, landscaping, signs and many improvements to accommodate public use.

Proposed Phase III projects will include renovation of the barn into a small theatre, restoration of the cantina, equipment shed, blacksmith shop, carriage house, and water tank. A botanical garden, picnic areas, and trails will also be added to enhance the visitor's experience of the ranch.

NEW!  Video update, March 2010

Preservation of the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park Barn Theater Stabilization/Restoration Project is being supported in part by a Save America's Treasures Grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

Located within the historic ranch compound, the Barn is a 30' x 40' wood frame structure previously used in Ranch operations for the storage of grain and hay. The barn was constructed on a partial concrete and stone foundation, and the earthen floor of the structure is sloped to compliment the contour of the hill. An exterior staircase (presently missing) permitted access to the loft from the northeast side of the building. A rooftop cupola provided a supply of fresh air to the loft.

In 1992, interim measures were taken to stabilize the concrete and stone foundation, and new interior support posts and foundation blocks were installed to provide additional support and seismic stabilization. While attempts have been made to temporarily repair and stabilize the Barn, immediate efforts are currently needed to preserve the structure from further decay and eventual loss through building collapse. Site drainage patterns, a leaky roof, wood rot, and a complete absence of foundations in some areas threaten the overall structural integrity of the structure.

Proposed scope of work

Work continues on schedule for the barn restoration project by Mark Sauer Construction Inc., in spite of heavy rains over the winter months.  Work completed for the project over the past few months includes rough electrical work, insulation, HVAC, plumbing and interior wall siding and new exterior steps at the west entrance.  The work is expected to be completed by end of April.

In June of 2009, the Carrillo Ranch Barn “stabilization” project was completed using a combination of City funds and a Federal grant.  The “stabilization” for the barn included new foundations, roofing, bracing, concrete flooring, and other improvements to strengthen and prepare the barn for future “restoration” and adaptation to the theater and visitor’s center.  The restoration will modernize the barn with heating, air conditioning and restrooms, with seating for 48 guests.  The project is projected to be completed by spring 2011. 

Overall project

The Barn Stabilization/Restoration Project will involve retaining a majority of the historic structure in situ following the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Project priorities will be: (1) architectural design, plans, and specifications, (2) structural stabilization incorporating as much of the original fabric as possible--replacing elements only where absolutely necessary, (3) repair existing foundation, (4) add matching concrete and stone foundation under structure where missing, (5) repair/replace exterior wall planks, (5) install a new wood shingle roof to replace the temporary asphalt rolled roofing, (7) replace plank flooring in loft, (8) restore existing exterior staircase to loft, and (9) construct a new interior "structural system within the structure" which will provide additional support and an anchor system for the original historic building. 

The grant funds and matching funds will provide for structure stabilization and preservation efforts to ensure that the Barn will remain and eventually become an integral component of the historic park and its overall operation. Prospective plans for the public use of the Barn as outlined in the Leo Carrillo Ranch Park Master Plan will ultimately transform the function of the Barn into a theater/visitor center. In addition to preservation/stabilization work, grant funding will also lay the foundation upon which future development can occur.

Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park celebrated its public Grand Opening on August 16, 2003, after the completion of two extensive restoration phases which included seismic stabilization and retrofitting, as well as the addition of substantial infrastructure throughout; such as walkways, parking areas and restrooms.

Unfortunately, the restoration of the magnificent historic stone masonry barbecue the centerpiece of many legendary Hollywood parties hosted by Leo Carrillo at Rancho de los Quiotes was not included in the Phase II budget.

Originally constructed about 1939, the barbecue has since fallen into a state of disuse and disrepair.

Many of the original stones have separated from the cracked and failing foundation. The grills and oven doors are rusted and inoperable, and the original tile counter tops are cracked and broken. Without necessary intervention the barbeque will eventually be completely lost to decay.

Special event revenue is an important and necessary aspect of the ranch's operation, and it is expected that once the barbecue has been restored it could be utilized for themed events, which would generate the needed funds for continued restoration efforts.

Historic Stone Masonry Barbecue Restoration Has Been Completed!

Thanks to a generous grant from Home and Garden Television Restore America and Save America's Treasures, as well as matching funds from the City of Carlsbad, the historic stone masonry barbecue has been preserved!

After nearly two years of planning and dedicated restoration efforts the barbecue is back up and running again. Restoration work commenced with the removal of planters and installation of a french drain system behind the massive structure. This action was taken in an effort to divert water runoff that was coming from the sloped flagstone patio and contributing to an eventual structural failure. Once the drain was installed, the countertops were leveled and repaired, running water was restored to the sink, saltillo tiles were replaced where missing, the grill and griddles were cleaned and sanded, old doors were cleaned and repainted, and new doors were manufactured where historic originals were missing. Finally, the barbecue was fitted with a custom made charcoal rack which may be manually raised or lowered to adjust the level of fire and heat underneath the grill.

For the first time in more than six decades visitors to the Ranch will once again be able to "fire it up", just as Leo Carrillo did while entertaining at many of his fabulous parties.

The historic stone masonry barbeque may be rented for weddings, receptions, private and corporate events.

Recent Donations 

The El Camino Chapter of the Questers generously funded two new exhibits at the Hacienda. In 2009, they had the original Monterey furniture repaired and restored to the original condition. The beds, desk and dressers, custom made for Leo Carrillo in the 1930s, had been donated to the Ranch by Elizabeth Wiegand before the Ranch opened and needed extensive repairs to the wood, metal and leather work. Thanks to the Questers’ funding, this is the only room at the Ranch that is furnished as it was during Carrillo’s day. Visitors love seeing this uniquely crafted furniture in what was once Carrillo’s favorite room.

During the following year the Questers funded the cleaning and restoration of several of Carrillo’s dress shirts and pants. These shirts, and a dress belonging to daughter Tony, were exquisitely crafted and embroidered by the tailor Nathan Turk. Carrillo can be seen wearing these typically western clothes in many of the photographs we have of him visiting dignitaries around the world.

By 2010 we were able to open a large exhibit in Tony’s former bedroom at the Hacienda, an exhibit of Leo Carrillo’s life and legacy. Again, the Questers provided funding—this time to have a custom case made to showcase Leo Carrillo’s role as Pancho in the Cisco Kid. Duncan Renaldo’s son Richard has loaned an original costume his father wore as Cisco, complete with hat, boots and belts, and other Cisco Kid memorabilia. The Questers provided funding for the cleaning and restoration of the elaborate Cisco Kid costume.

2011 saw the opening of the new Visitor Center at the restored hay barn. Donations of old Carrillo movie posters line the walls and tell the story of Carrillo’s career over a forty year span, from his early days in vaudeville through his prolific movie roles and eventual television role. Vintage movie theater seats and an old Bardwell-McAlister keg light add to the ambience.

Contact Information

Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park
6200 Flying Leo Carrillo Ln.
Carlsbad, CA 92009


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General Information

Park hours
Tuesday- Saturday
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Closed on Mondays and on city holidays.

90-minute guided tours
Saturday 11 a.m.,1 p.m.
Sunday noon., 2 p.m.