The Surprising History of Posh Lake Sherwood California

These days everyone knows that Lake Sherwood homes are some of the most gorgeous in the Ventura County region. This small, upscale neighborhood is home to just over 1,000 of some of the wealthiest individuals in the country including David Murdock, owner of the Dole company. His estate spawns over 2,000 acres of land on a hill top. Prime Lake Sherwood real estate isn’t just for the typical rising stars in business either. This wealthy town has been home to countless celebrities and to this date attracts Hollywood stars like actor Jamie Foxx who follows fellow actors Sylvester Stallone, Sophia Loren, Tom Selleck and a caravan of other tinsel town elite in owning Lake Sherwood real estate. With such a rich history in wealth it might be hard to picture a Lake Sherwood without pomp and circumstance. But according to former locals of the area, there actually was a time when Lake Sherwood was just a really nice lake.

The story is that Lake Sherwood’s history goes back further than the 1922 Robin Hood movie accredited for giving it fame. It seems the neighborhood had rather tough beginnings in trying to solidify itself as a place where the rich call home.  According to historian Miriam Sprinkling, the lake was formed when a rancher known as S.W. Matthiesson, who owned much of what is now Lake Sherwood and Hidden Valley, built a dam across four streams. Matthiesson had hoped the land would become a summer getaway for the wealthy to hunt and fish. However, this idea never caught on. It was Matthiesson’s son who eventually gave the okay for filming the Robin Hood movie years later in Lake Sherwood. The cabin in which Douglas Fairbanks was housed during filming is now a registered Ventura County historical landmark and the crest of The Sherwood Country Club proudly depicts Robin Hood.

Unfortunately, after the film was produced Matthieson’s son lost ownership of the lake to his wife during a divorce settlement (that doesn’t sound too gentry at all) and Mrs. Matthieson and her new husband Mr. Canterbury, decided to change the lake’s name to “Lake Canterbury”. Luckily, the name just never stuck. The two decided to begin a housing development project in the area and the real estate firm hired again changed the name to “Los Touras” by combining Los Angeles + Ventura. At this time, Petrero Valley was renamed Hidden Valley. So, what is exactly in a name, you ask? Millions. Until there’s a stock market crash. And in 1929 that’s exactly what ruined the Canterbury’s plans as they were forced to sell their property to none other than tycoon William Randolph Hearst.  For the next 50 years little headlines were produced about the small lake town. But according to locals, Lake Sherwood was finally an open playground for all. As orginally sourced by the Thousand Oaks Acorn:

“Steve Carlson of Moorpark moved with his parents to Westlake Village in 1967. He and his brother, Scott, spent time on what he called the “back side” of the lake, where a small cabin turned bait store served coffee and hot chocolate.” The lake was open to all for fishing although it wasn’t exactly a sport fisherman’s dream stop.

Matt Morrison frequented the lake in the 60’s and recalls the story of how the same bait store owner was discovered by boldly presenting his script to then director and producer William Conrad. Conrad was so impressed he set up a meeting with Walt Disney who hired Morrison on the spot. Back then locals remember swimming around a beautiful story book island where there were few rules and people.

In the 1980’s the Sherwood Development Company a subsidiary of Castle and Cooke, the real estate operations of the Dole Food Company, developed the area with luxury homes and the golf course opened in 1989. Nowadays Lake Sherwood real estate is scooped up by celebrities like Ellen Degeneres, Britney Spears and major leaguer Todd Zeile. But it’s nice to know it has some truly humble California beginnings.

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Seth Cox

Seth Cox leads the marketing strategy for SG Associates. Seth's insight into the real estate market is balanced with an expertise in digital marketing and brand management.

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