As well as his legacy as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson leaves behind the architectural curiosity that is the Neverland Ranch. The AJ takes a look at the star’s former home and the history of the ranch typology
Michael Jackson’s home was the ultimate expression of wealth bestowed upon a childhood star. Set in land 11 km2, Neverland Ranch housed a zoo, amusement park and Museum of Michael Jackson, as well as a collection of entertainment and accommodation buildings.
Named after the fantasy island in the Peter Pan story, where children never grow up, the ranch made real childhood dreams with its 16 amusement park rides including a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, a super slide, dragon wagon kiddie roller coaster and bumper cars. The architecture scattered around the ranch was a disneyfied mashup of Queen Anne Style and New England vernacular, its idealised expression that harks back to innocent days gone by.
Jackson left Neverland in 2005, and after moving from place to place settled in Los Angeles, renting a £67,500 a month mansion. The Bel Air house was quite the palatial home, boasting seven bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, 12 fireplaces and sprawling gardens, classical in style and with highly lavish interiors.
Ranches originally appeared in the United States as vast plots of land used for farming cattle. Today many still exist for this purpose, but the super rich have also adopted this term for their multi-acre estates that house decadent amusements instead of cows.
Other famous ranches include film director George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in California, which he uses as a workplace and retreat. The Star Wars’ visionary’s ranch contains a barn with animals, vineyards, a garden with an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, racquet courts, the man-made “Lake Ewok” and multiple theatre screening rooms. Skywalker Ranch is also equipped with its own fire station.