The old white farmhouse has been part of the landscape at Riverview Ranch for more than 100 years. It was built by Fresno’s first nursery owner, William Macca Williams, and was later owned by prominent Fresno banker and politician, William Walker Phillips.
Through the years, Riverview Ranch and its stately home served as an oasis for weary travelers on horseback who were riding between Friant and Fresno.
Later the house provided living quarters for multiple families who worked in the vineyards and orchards on the ranch.
But eventually time took its toll and the house fell into a state of disrepair.
Thankfully, there were visionaries who recognized that the Riverview Ranch House had great historic value.
The River Parkway Trust restored the historic home with help from numerous partners including East Fresno Rotary, Fred Biglione Construction, and hundreds of volunteers.
This dramatic restoration effort was made possible from a lead gift of the land it sat on from Vulcan Materials Company (formerly CalMat). Embracing the vision of the property as part of the Parkway, the company donated the declining ranch buildings along with 20-acres to the River Parkway Trust in 2001.
October marked the 16
anniversary of the opening of the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies for the community to visit and enjoy.
Today, the River Center is a symbol of our history and an important part of our community. A visit to the River Center connects people to their cultural past and draws them outdoors to discover the wildlife that depend on the river.
The River Center grounds are open 7 days a week, and the Ranch House is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
In the weeks to come, every sixth-grade student from Madera Unified will participate in a field trip to the River Center. They’ll learn to use binoculars to search for wildlife on the Hidden Homes Pond, study the effects of water on land forms, and investigate seed survival.
Your support helps make the River Center available for community enjoyment throughout the year.