In 1882, the Rancho de los Palos Verdes land grant once owned by the Sepulveda family was partitioned into 17 parcels as part of a complex legal settlement. The largest share, 16,000 acres which included most of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, went to rancher Jotham Bixby . Bixby built his ranch house near where the Peninsula Center and Avenue of the Peninsula shopping centers currently stand. In 1894, Jotham Bixby’s son George hired Harry Phillips Sr. to manage the ranch. Phillips built and occupied the first permanent residence on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in 1894, a small cottage near the present Rolling Hills City Hall. It was replaced in 1910 by a larger Farmstead called "the farmery" which was built in Blackwater Canyon on the current-day Lariat Lane just southeast of the intersection of Palos Verdes Drive North and Rolling Hills Road where the family lived until the late 1920's. Harry, an Englishman, came to the Palos Verdes Peninsula in 1887, settling in San Pedro. The Peninsula, covered with chaparral, had almost no trees, and water was scarce.
1912 - Harry and Mary Ann Phillips
Phillips was responsible for planting the first groves of eucalyptus and Pepper Trees in the City of Rolling Hills Estates. Phillips also was responsible for planting for firewood the extensive groves of eucalyptus and pepper trees in what is now the Valmonte area of Palos Verdes Estates..
Phillips brought agriculture to the region. He upgraded the Bixby cattle by introducing thoroughbred Hereford bulls and marketed the beef to a growing, hungry Los Angeles and had a herd of approx. 2,000 head of cattle.
Harry farmed large areas of hay and barley, as well as lima beans and other dry farming crops. Phillips encouraged Bixby to lease coastal portions of the ranch near Portuguese Bend to Japanese farmers for $10 an acre. About forty families took him up on the offer, including longtime South Bay farmers the Ishibashi family. They raised a variety of vegetables, particularly tomatoes and peas.
Henry Phillips Jr. and John "Jack" Phillips, the first son of Harry Phillips Sr.built their own ranch houses in the early 1910’s located near the east end of the area that became the Palos Verdes Golf Course in the Valmonte area of Palos Verdes Estates.. Another early ranch was built at about the same time in the same area by Raymond McCarrell and was known as the McCarrell Ranch
The Bixby Ranch was sold in 1913 to New York banker Frank A. Vanderlip Sr., who ultimately developed the Peninsula. Phillips continued to run the ranch until 1920. Two years later, he died of cancer in Lomita at age 59, according to his grandson, Harry Phillips III.
Cowboys in front of Phillips Farmstead in 1920