Thacher House

Our Story

Honoring the past without the pretense of living within it is a trick that Calvin Zara handles with aplomb. It was his passion for old-world traditions and organic living that naturally led him to Ojai. In 2010, Zara, a proficient carpenter, began his hands-on renovation of the Dent estate, uniting reverence for the property’s history and imagination concerning its future.

“I wanted the marrow of the house’s original bones to help me establish a new life, a fresh voice,” explains Zara. “There is a particular charm about historic character viewed through a contemporary lens.”

Zara coated the walls in earthy hues, stacked the shelves with early editions of classic literature, installed contemporary art  — some of his own creation — and covered the floors with antique rugs. Down-filled sofas and chairs, vintage furnishings, and one-of-a-kind objects–each item was hand-selected and carefully placed throughout the property to conjure an ambience of old-world savoir-faire.

Bed and kitchen linens are line-hung and sun-dried. Vintage silverware, bone china, and crystal vessels elevate the dining experience. The scent of sun-kissed lavender permeates the air. And, of course, outdoor sitting areas across the property allow guests to savor the breathtaking scenery.

Thacher House is not a corporate experience. Each group is catered to based on their specific interests, tastes, and needs. Let us know ahead of time what you are looking for, and we will ensure you have a perfect stay. Ultimately, Thacher House aims to envelope you in the luxury of simple living predicated on the beauty and bounty of nature.

“I truly believe that when we experience the beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming,” Zara insists. “I’d like to welcome you to my home—and encourage you to make it your own.”


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.