Opening Summer 2021

Our core values are reflected in our archives, exhibits, educational programs, and partnerships.

Corporate Sponsors

Maxwell, California

Moulton Roundup

In these times, family and friends are more important than ever. For over a century, the Moulton family has been gathering, working their cattle and building community just like they used to do on the Moulton Ranch during the ranching period of Orange County. At Moulton Museum we hope to tell the stories and share the traditions that bring us all together, connect us to our past and keep our community spirit alive into the future. Enjoy the video from our latest round-up held in Maxwell, CA earlier this year.

Watch our 10 minute film about this historic event.

One of the original FOUNDERS of Orange County

Lewis Fenno Moulton & Nellie Gail Moulton

The Moulton Ranch was established by Lewis Fenno Moulton. He was a prestigious lawyer’s son. His father was a classmate and friend of President Lincoln. Lewis had worked at old Daniel Webster farm as an adolescent. As a part of Western expansion, many young men ventured West for opportunity. Lewis traveled to California at twenty years old by a boat around the Isthmus of Panama, train, and another boat to San Francisco before landing in soon to by Orange County. He learned to run a ranching operation by working at Rancho San Joaquin starting in 1874.

According to Louise Moulton Hanson, “In 1881 he bought Jonathan Bacon’s band of sheep and rented his 1,600 acres.” Lewis F. Moulton and Company was established with Jean Pierre Daguerre, a Basque sheepherder. The would developed a sheep and cattle enterprise along with agriculture.

On April 29, 1884 Lewis leased “17,000 acres, from Cyrus Rawson” (2018.43) which was a part of Rancho Niguel, a Mexican land grant once owned by Juan Avila. 

Throughout the years, Lewis purchased 21,723 acres which became the Moulton Ranch. Today, the land comprises much of Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and Aliso Viejo. We aim to work with these cities to provide them with their heritage and preserve the past. Together we can educate the communities by exhibiting their history at the Moulton Museum.

Cities Incorporated from Moulton Ranch

Laguna Niguel

Acquired: 1959 by the Laguna Niguel Corporation Incorporated‎: ‎December 1, 1989

City's History

Visit the current city's website.
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Laguna Woods

Acquired: 1963 by Ross Cortese as Leisure World Incorporated: March 24, 1999

City's History

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Laguna Hills

Subdivided in the early 1960s from the Moulton Ranch Incorporated: December 20, 1991

City's History

Visit the current city's website.
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Aliso Viejo

Acquired: 1976 by the Mission Viejo Company Incorporated: July 1, 2001

City's History

Visit the current city's website.
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Dana Point

Acquisition: Early 1960s by Avco Community Incorporated: January 1, 1989

City's History

Visit the current city's website.
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Laguna Beach

Incorporated: June 29, 1927

City's History

Visit the current city's website.
Learn More

Pioneers of Orange County

Before Orange County annexed from the Los Angeles county in August 1889, families resided here and developed a rich ecosystem of agriculture and commerce. Lewis F. Moulton arrived in 1874 at twenty years old.

PAST: Who is the Moulton Family

The family was established in 1908 when Lewis married Nellie. The had two daughters, Charlotte and Louise. Charlotte married Glenn and had three children. These are the decendants of these pioneers.

PRESENT: Moulton Museum by Moulton Co.

The museum's vast collection of personal papers, maps, photographs, slides, fine art, household furniture, home decor, to ranch equipment showcase daily life during the 19th and 20th century.

FUTURE: PLANS to Partner and Expand

Our community partnerships continue to expand our collections and interpretive plan. We hope to move into a larger facility to serve a larger audience and influence our interpretive plan.


Development of Moulton Ranch

November 1, 1776

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded by Father Junípero Serra, a priest in the Franciscan order of the Catholic Church on behalf of Spain. “California’s cattle industry began in 1769 when Captain Gaspar de Portola and his group of missionaries and soldiers brought 200 head of cattle to the area, and by 1863, approximately three million cattle were grazing on the hills of California.”

November 1, 1776


Rancho Era

Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. California became Mexican territory and many rancheros were formed in Southern California, including Rancho Niguel.



California Formed

In 1848, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed with Mexican government that ended the war. The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill. California became the 31st state on September 9, 1850



Lewis Fenno Moulton

Lewis Fenno Moulton (1854-1938) arrives at Rancho San Joaquin (Irvine Ranch) at twenty years old. Louise Moulton Hanson shared, “He got a job on the San Joaquin ranch working under Charles French. He and Mr. French bought a flock of sheep, and my father eventually bought out Mr. French. He ran his sheep on rented land from Oceanside to Wilmington.” 



L. F. Moulton & Co.

Lewis forms the L. F. Moulton and Co.  with Basque partner, Jean Pierre Daguerre to run the 21,723 acres. Lewis bought out his partner and renamed this operation Moulton Ranch. This encompasses what is now Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods and Laguna Hills.




Witness History

Casa Romantica​

415 Avenida Granada
San Clemente, CA 92672

Who was Nellie Gail Moulton? Pioneer, Artist and so much more is closed temporary at Casa Romantica. Please contact them directly to ensure access.

The exhibit, which has been extended through September 20th, 2020

This exhibit is featured on the cover of March 2020 Orange County Magazine. It has been highlighted nationwide by ARTFIXdaily.
Laguna Hills, California

Moulton Ranch Center Mural

The Moulton Ranch Center mural depicts the history of Laguna Hills in a large, immersive mural painting that combines maps and photos from the Moulton Museum archives. These images are taken from the Moulton Ranch into an original artistic composition by Tim Smith, LCAD. View Orange County history through art in Laguna Hill’s first mural project! We hope you can experience the mural in person at 23272 Cabot Road in Laguna Hills. Please visit and follow us on social media for more content, details and upcoming events.

The newly released film provides historical information with on-site interviews.


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Nellie Gail Moulton Exhibit at Casa Romantica

A guided tour with Jane Barnes, Nellie’s granddaughter, at Casa Romantica.

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Laguna Playhouse

Moulton Theatre Mrs. Lewis Moulton was a founder of  the Laguna Playhouse. As a major donor for the 1969 construction of the Moulton Theatre, Nellie …

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July 2020 Newsletter

Heritage. Community. Philanthropy. Happy Fourth of July from the Moulton Museum!   Who was Nellie Gail Moulton? Pioneer, Artist and so much more reopened at …

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Aliso Wood Canyons

The Moulton Museum is committed to supporting local agencies with its local history. We are collaborating with the OC Parks staff to develop exhibits for …

Read More →

Moulton Museum

Our Mission

“To Protect, Diversify and Grow Moulton Family Assets”

Our Vision

“To Provide the Family the Freedom to Pursue Its Passions while Building the Moulton Legacy”

The Moulton Company is a family owned and operated private equity asset management company based in Irvine, CA. Formed in 2007, The Moulton Company manages residential, commercial retail and industrial properties nationwide with most holdings located in Southern California. Some of the portfolio properties have been held in the Moulton family for over 100 years. The Moulton Ranch, predecessor to The Moulton Company, was a sheep and cattle ranch that stretched from present day Lake Forest to Dana Point and encompassed approximately 22,000 acres.

The CEO of MMB Management is Jared Mathis and the CFO is Scott T. Barnes, both great-grandsons of Lewis and Nellie Gail Moulton, founders of the Moulton Ranch. With a foundation built on agriculture starting in the 1890’s, the Moulton family is still actively farming and ranching throughout California and Oregon. Also, in the tradition of Nellie Gail Moulton, the Moulton Company supports the local community primarily though involvement with The Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD), the Laguna Playhouse/Moulton Theatre and as a member of the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce.

Get in Touch


General Inquiries​

We are here to help you 7 days a week and respond within 24 hours. Plus, you can find most answers to your questions right on FAQ page.

Let us know if you’d like to schedule a visit.



The Moulton Museum, a 501c3 non-profit works to keep the history of Orange County and its ranching era alive. The foundation actively archives, restores, and preserves Orange County historical artifacts.


error: All images are copyright of the Moulton Museum.

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