Thacher House is nestled inside Matilija Canyon, 560 private acres within Los Padres National Forest. The forest extends over 1,950,000 acres from the mountains of Ventura to Monterey. For thousands of years the southern range was inhabited by the Chumash Indian tribe. The canyon is named after the Chumash Chief Matilija (pronounced ma-til-EE-ha) who resided here in the 1800s. The Chumash knew this canyon to be sacred and visited often to rejuvenate and hold spiritual rituals and retreats. Until the early 20th century, the bountiful streams and grasses running through the valley sustained the lives of the tribe and their animals. The land continues in the same way today nourishing and healing it’s visitors and inhabitants.
In 1903 John and Phillis Dent English immigrants and ranchers purchased 153 acres along Ventura Avenue for the purpose of planting a fruit farm. Here he cultivated apricots, walnuts and beans. In 1908, Dent commissioned William Anderson, a local carpenter, to build his family an arts and crafts home which at the time was considered contemporary. After the death of John Dent in 1956, the Dent estate was acquired by a public agency for public housing, and the house was turned into a boarding house.
In 1980, the Dent House and cottages were threatened with demolition, thus prompting a television producer and his actress wife from Los Angeles to move the structures into Matilija Canyon where it resides today. With the addition of the houses, the property began operating as the Matilija Wildlife Refuge, a bed-and-breakfast-style facility. On September 10,1985 the Ventura County Cultural Heritage Board passed a resolution designating the Dent House as a Ventura County Landmark #96.
The Colla Family continued to run the facility until June 2017 when Calvin Zara of Thacher House acquired the land with the timeless vision and intention to steward the healing gifts of bountiful and sacred Matilija Canyon.