(Provided by Ken Henderson)

HISTORY OF THE TERRA NOVA LAND AREA (article appeared in a 1963 Tiger Tales, written by Kathy Drake)

On rainy days Louis Picardo used to pile his children into his Model T Ford and drive them over the narrow, rutted dirt road to the Coast road where they caught the school bus to Jefferson High School.  What would the Picardos have thought if they had known that one day a modern and beautiful high school would rest on the very site of which their farmhouse then stood?

Today the Picardos live in the same house which has been moved to a new site only a long punt from the Terra Nova campus.  With the school out of sight around the hill, they must sometimes forget it is here, for the remainder of the Picardo Ranch, including the hills surrounding Terra Nova, is about as wild, beautiful and quiet as it was hundreds of years ago.

IIn the seventeen hundreds and up until 1838, this valley was a part of a "rancho" of Mission Dolores.  Mission cattle and crops were raised in the hills of what is now Linda Mar.  By 1830, when the mission and its outposts were no longer operating, Don Francisco Sanchez obtained a land grant for this area -- 8,926 acres.  His property gained him the rating of one of the five richest men in San Mateo County.

In 1842-46 Sanchez, who in the preceeding years held the title of Alcalde (mayor) of San Francisco and Captain of the Port of San Francisco, built what we know now as the Sanchez Adobe on his rancho.  He died in 1862 and parts (of) of his 8,926 acre ranch were sold to various people in the following years.

The land now around Terra Nova remained completely wild and unchanged for the most part during these years.  By the early nineteen hundreds several ranches were being farmed.  There was only a small country road connecting the area to the Coast road, and no houses.

During the Model T era a few people started making the bumpy trip down the old Coast Highway to the "coastside" to hunt rabbits, quail, etc.  There is some speculation that during prohibition there may have been stills in the hills around the present day location of the school.

One of the hunters who frequently visited this area was Louis Picardo, who had, at the age of 19, come to the United States from his native Italy in 1905.  After working for three years in the Nevado (sic) mines he came to San Francisco, where he worked in the food industry and later started his own grocery store.

Picardo spent many wonderful hours hunting and hiking through the hills in which his ranch and Terra Nova now stand.  He became interested in buying the property and after considerable difficulties located the owner, a man named Lawrence Bachelor.  Bachelor owned a stable in San Francisco, and had reportedly bought the land for speculation.  

Bachelor sold the land -- some 250 acres -- to Picardo in 1929 (during the depths of the depression) for $7,750.  Picardo planned to use his land for hunting purposes.  At the time of his purchase Pacifica and even Linda Mar did not exist.  There were small settlements at Sharp Park, Rockaway, and an even smaller one on Pedro Point.  Danmann's Haylot was a station on the Ocean Shore Railroad, known as the San Pedro Inn.

Not until 1938 did Picardo and his wife and their family move to the ranch.  About this time Picardo built the house in which he still lives and which for many years stood on the site of Terra Nova.  He grew oats, hay, potatoes, beans, peas, and artichokes where the TN Tigers now attend classes, and have their football and baseball games.

The four Picardo children, two girls and two boys, went to Jefferson High School.  They used to walk a mile to a nearby ranch to catch the school bus, or if it was raining the bus couldn't make it Mr. Picardo drove them to the highway.

In 1959 the Jefferson Union High School District purchased 36 acres of Mr. Picardo's ranch for $172,000, and other land from Ray Higgins for $34,000.  Before construction on Terra Nova began the Picardo house was moved to its present location not far from the eastern end of the football field.

What kind of neighbors do Terra Novans make?  "They're alright, " says Mr. Picardo.  It is so peaceful, quiet, and so like the "olden days" on the Picardo ranch that it is hard to believe that there's a big high school around the corner.  Mr. Picardo has never even been over for a football game.

Will "progress" soon overtake the untouched land around Terra Nova and cover the beautiful hills with streets and houses?  Mr. Picardo says no.  He owns 7 acres on the other side of Terra Nova Boulevard,  which he might permit to be developed, but the rest of his 200 acre ranch will remain as it is for as long as he lives.  He explains, "I like it this way, " and anyone who has ever seen the lovely surroundings of Terra Nova will agree with him.