DANVILLE -- Danville is fortunate to have a wide variety of parks, featuring many amenities and beautiful design features, but none offers the beauty and historic ambiance of Hap Magee Ranch Park.

It is a 16-acre park jointly owned and operated by the town of Danville and County Service Area R-7A, also known as Alamo Parks and Recreation. The park is unique for its informal recreational uses, major trails, and historic buildings.

In 1874, Captain Isaac and Mrs. Ann Swain purchased the property on behalf of the San Francisco Protestant Orphanage. The Swains thought the children should have a warm, natural place to go during San Francisco's damp summers. The property came to be called Camp Swain in 1911.

Several buildings were constructed to house the boys and girls, which are now known as the Cottage and the Swain House. Camp Swain operated for more than 40 years until Hap Magee, a local cattle rancher, purchased the property in 1952.

Magee, a collector of long-horned cattle and known for his story telling, built another house and two ranch buildings behind the Camp Swain buildings. The Magee Ranch hosted small rodeos on the northern portion of the property.

In the early 1960s the eastern portion of the property was graded extensively to make way for Interstate 680.

After Hap Magee died in 1985, the Danville Park and Leisure Services Commission pursued the parcel for use as a park and in 1987 the land was bought by the town of Danville and Contra Costa County. In a joint agreement, the two agencies developed a plan to restore and operate the historic park.


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The park serves a broad range of visitors with regional trails, picturesque oak trees, a dog park, children's playground, and picnic areas.

The park's western character is preserved through its historic buildings and tributes to its past.

In 2011, Danville's Heritage Resource Commission approved the structural rehabilitation of the west barn behind the Swain House. The newly restored barn was completed in the summer of 2011 and will be used for storage related to The Bounty Garden, a non-profit organization growing organically-farmed vegetables and fruit at the park for community education and local food banks.

Hap Magee Ranch Park began its 130-year history by providing summer recreation and activities to youth and now continues to do so as one of the premiere gems in the Danville community.

There are three ranch buildings on the site, all available for rental for wedding receptions, meetings or other events.

For more information on other Danville Heritage Resources, Associate Planner Crystal De Castro at 925.314.3314 or cdecastro@danville.ca.gov.

IF YOU GO:
  • What: Hap Magee
    Ranch Park
  • Where: 1025 La Gonda Way, Danville
  • Reservations/details: 925-314-3400