Around 1890, Orvis Stevens, one of the first orchardists in Coyote Valley, built this fruit barn to store and dry fruit. Born in Vermont, Stevens came to California in 1852 to try his hand at mining before settling in the Santa Clara Valley. In 1868, he purchased 108 acres of Rancho Laguna Seca and began working the land. His sons took over the Ranch in 1906.
In the 1970s, as part of the 101 Freeway development, CalTrans provided funding for the fruit barn and other historic buildings to be preserved, moving the barn to History Park in 1979.
The fruit barn is home to the exhibit Passing Farms: Enduring Values which examines Santa Clara Valley’s agricultural past. The exhibit’s curator, Yvonne Olson Jacobson, grew up on her family’s Sunnyvale farm with orchards of prunes and cherries. She witnessed the transformation of the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” to “Silicon Valley,” and realized the importance of documenting the disappearing family farms and way of life. The exhibit explores the Valley’s fruit industry from the late nineteenth century to World War II. During its heyday, Santa Clara County produced more than one third of all the fruit canned in the world.
The Stevens Ranch Fruit Barn is featured in People at Work, A Child’s Life in the 1890s, Coming to America, The Immigration Experience, and Valley of Heart’s Delight School Programs.