The Coast News Group

A look at the history of one Ranch estate

RANCHO SANTA FE — Every now and then, one of the seldom seen estates in Rancho Santa Fe lets the rest of the world have a peek.
The Rancho Santa Fe estate home at 16128 Rambla de las Flores was originally designed and built for the RJ Reynolds Corporation by a developer out of Colorado. San Diego’s Doug Austin was the architect. Its most famous resident was F. Ross Johnson, chief executive officer of RJ Reynolds.
Johnson, in the late 1980s, spent $350 million trying to develop a new smokeless cigarette that never caught on. As result of his failure, Johnson attempted to take the company private through a leveraged buyout, which requires raising an unusually large amount of debt.
Shearson Lehman Hutton orchestrated the debt offering for Johnson, but lost out to another bidder for the company headed by Kholberg Kravis Roberts and Company. KKR made an offering of $31.4 billion, which at the time was the highest ever-recorded buyout of an American company. Soon, Johnson found himself fired from the company but managed to leave with a $54 million severance package.
Johnson’s story was made into a Hollywood movie called “Barbarians at the Gates” starring James Garner. Johnson used his newfound money to purchase 16128 Rambla De Las Flores in 1990.
This residence has more than 9,000 square feet of living space consisting of six bedrooms, a first-floor master bedroom suite with a retreat and four second-floor guest suites plus a maid’s quarters off the garage. It has six full bathrooms and three half-sized bathrooms. There are 11 fireplaces (three doubles and five singles) throughout the home.
Each guest suite has a fireplace, full bathroom and outside deck.
The first floor has an office with floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall beautifully designed wooden book shelves, a circular kitchen with granite countertops and kitchen nook, family room with sunken bar, workout room with steam room and sauna, and maid’s quarters with laundry room. There is a four-car garage that has been upgraded to include a wine cellar, tankless water heater, coated cement floors and enclosed utility closets.
The home also features a dual staircase upon entry to the home through the 20-foot, custom-designed glass door entry. The home is built in a semi-circular fashion to follow the contour of the landscape with long narrow windows throughout the house that allows light into the home without the need to use artificial lighting. The living room is designed with this same concept overlooking the landscape of the surrounding Rancho Santa Fe. The living room windows are covered with specially design wooden shutters. The windows in the family room were designed to be opened from the top allowing cool air in the home with out disturbing your view through the window with latches and other hardware.
Outside, the home consists of several formal decks. The pool is enclosed by a solid stucco wall to provide maximum privacy. Gently sloping down the rear of the home sits a tennis court framed with a wooden trellis. In all, there is 3.3 acres of land with a long curve driveway up a hill to the entrance of the home. The property is secured by a gated entrance and security system with cameras throughout the house and the outside grounds.
The estate currently lists at $6,290,000. For more information, call (858) 342-6810 or e-mail [email protected]