Slices of California’s richest history abound on Rio Bonito Drive
Carmichael, California – In this storied community of historic Sacramento County, tales of the Old West collide with the rich political history of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. It’s a place where a beloved U.S. president and high-profile governors spent time before or during their times in office. And where placid luxury sits a mere few miles from the prestigious culture, dining, and entertainment of downtown Sacramento’s finest neighborhoods.
Tucked away in this unincorporated region of Sacramento County lies an exclusive, affluent strip, where homes boast views of the American River from the bluffs. There, on land once purchased and reserved for La Casa de los Gobernadores (the home of the governors) and later divided for the construction of select luxury estates, innate beauty is further enlivened by local lore.
If the river banks, the blades of grass on the plains, or the walls of 6236 Rio Bonito Drive could talk, what might we hear of the history from within and around them? The estate at 6236 Rio Bonito – named for its perch of the beautiful river – features a stunning blend of sprawling luxury and comfort and shares the largest property line with the original property for a fabled, California mansion.
On the adjacent property, find the custom-built estate that would have been home to former Governor Ronald Reagan, and all subsequent governors, had his term of office not come to an end. Imagine the stories this enclave on the American River might have held had Reagan, his wife, Nancy, daughter Patti, and son The Skipper, moved onto the land. And yet, even without The Great Communicator’s residence in the neighborhood, the tales still abound.
In an endearing twist of the story, the current owners of the magnificent 6236 Rio Bonito Drive enjoyed ties to the Reagans and to others in administrations after the Reagans. Purchased with private funds in the early 1970’s at no expense to taxpayers, Nancy Reagan personally oversaw the design and construction of the mansion, with both a private side for the governor and his family, and a public side for gubernatorial events.
Fittingly, the current 6236 Rio Bonito homeowner worked for Ronald Reagan during his time as Governor.
“Mrs. Reagan didn’t want to live in what was the governor’s mansion at the time – a dilapidated, old Victorian downtown. It would have been inhospitable for a family with children,” the Rio Bonito homeowner recalls of his time with Nancy and Ronald. “So they moved into the Fab-Forties downtown with the idea of finding and building another home for all future governors.”
The owner fondly recalls Mr. Reagan’s keen eye and wit upon visiting the property. “I remember him picking up an arrowhead on the site of the property; he had the sharp eyes to identify it and he was always interested in the Old West.”
It’s a slice of California history in which tales of prestige and wealth run up against the unabashed modesty of folks like four term-governor Jerry Brown. When elected to the California governorship after the Reagans moved on and ultimately to the nation’s capital, Brown, ever the “bohemian,” rebuffed the grandeur of this coveted land on the American River in favor of modest one-bedroom apartment in the capital city, where he slept on a mattress on the floor.
Although efforts to restore the mansion as the official residence of the Governor began anew with the election of Governor George Deukmejian, wrangling in the California Legislature prevented the Deukmejian family from residing there.
The last hope for the mansion to become the Governor’s Residence hinged on Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, when elected Governor, visited the property four times with his family to seriously consider living in the mansion. Negotiations faltered, however, and the Schwarzeneggers eventually took residence in the Hyatt Hotel Penthouse across the street from the Capitol.
Decades later, after the land was subdivided into individual lots for separate homes, 6236 Rio Bonito earned its prestigious spot overlooking the river and the original La Casa de los Gobernadores – which still displays a brick pillar bearing its name on a plaque.
Surrounded by mature trees, the award-winning Ancil Hoffmann golf course, and open space, 6236 Rio Bonito Drive’s nearly 7,000 feet of living space on .62 acres feels delightfully “off the beaten path” while only 10 miles from downtown. Access to the American River Parkway for jogging or bicycling is out the back gate, enjoying the river or watching the usual wildlife of wild turkeys, deer and nesting bald eagles.
Lovingly built, immaculately maintained, and updated by its owners since purchased from the builder in 1998, the property was designed for entertaining. As the site of major events for hundreds of guests, the patio can accommodate lavish seated dinners for 200, with additional seating space 80 inside. Water fountains, sculptures, and meticulous landscape and hardscape accent the gleaming pool and spa. Arched doorways and expansive windows allow the glorious views to be the interior’s artwork. And nearly every upgrade imaginable for comfortable, easy living has been incorporated.
6236 Rio Bonito Drive – the likes of which are rarely available for sale – offers an opportunity to live where lines in several chapters of California’s history were “written.” This remarkable home inhabits a prime lot in Carmichael, which on June 15, 2019, was featured in the Sacramento Bee (“A Pleasant Place to Live”). Here, families not only relish in the history of the Old West, but enjoy bountiful amenities, beautiful parks, the Jensen Botanical Gardens, and Effie Yeaw Nature Center, and a comforting sense of home, community, and family values. Once filled with hop farms, hopeful settlers, and the prospect of respite for the government’s most elite, the estate promises preeminent luxury, quiet dignity, and permanent retreat.