Willits J. Hole was a land developer who started his career as the founder of the city of La Habra and an owner of oil rights in Southern California’s lucrative oil basin. In 1910, he purchased a large portion of the original Rancho La Sierra Sepulveda, and in 1912, despite having homes in Los Angeles and Palm Springs and a large yacht docked in Wilmington, Willits and his wife, Mary, built a ranch house on the property. Designed by noted architect, Arthur Benton, the house was constructed using granite quarried on the ranch and featured a music room with a 1,000-stop pipe organ.
Estimates of the ranch’s size ranged from 17,000 to 20,000 acres. Hole farmed cattle, alfalfa, vegetables, walnuts, and fruit including oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. The farm was managed by Richard Voris who, in addition to assisting Hole with the draining of the land for farming, also helped Hole establish the Twin Buttes Water Company.
In the 1920s, Hole began to sell tracts of the land for subdivisions in the La Sierra area. As he grew older, he spent more of his time at the ranch. He sold a 375-acre site to the Southeastern California Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which started a secondary school there in 1922, a two-year college in 1927 and a four-year college in 1939. Today, the land is home to La Sierra University. Another large parcel went to what is now the city of Norco.
He was known as a yachtsman, sailing often to islands in the South Pacific, the Galapagos, and taking a trip “round the Horn” only three years before his sudden death in 1936, at age 79 from a cerebral hemorrhage. His daughter, Agnes Rindge, continued to operate the ranch until the final 3,500 acres were sold in 1953.