Private retreat built by Manhattan Project physicist hits market for $19.5 million

The 240-acre ranch in Lockwood Valley, listed for sale at $19.5 million, was built for Manhattan Project physicist Robert Christy.
(Sotheby’s International Realty)

After his role as a lead physicist in the Manhattan Project, the World War II research group tasked with producing the first atomic bomb, the late Robert Christy valued privacy and safety. He scouted out a secluded piece of land surrounded by mountains in the Lockwood Valley and built a home there designed to sustain any natural disaster or attack.

Now, that home is on the market for $19.5 million.

Set on a 240-acre plot next to Los Padres National Forest, the bucolic home, known as Spring Valley Ranch, offers a sense of pastoral luxury.


The equestrian ranch has 5,900 square feet and six bedrooms.

Groves of pine trees shroud the timber-beamed exterior, which has a wraparound patio and sleeping porch connected to the master bedroom. Inside, the two-story great room features a hand-built fireplace and French doors that bring in light.

Hardwood floors line the living areas, while the kitchen and bathroom feature marble and tile. Imported marble from Greece, Argentina and China decorate the four bathrooms, three of which have Jacuzzis.

With water supplied by spring-fed meadows, the property also comes with four horse barns and three pastures of five, seven and 10 acres. Staff accommodations include a separate one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartment.


Terri Harkins of Sotheby’s International Realty and Elizabeth Potter of Vista Sotheby’s International Realty hold the listing.

Christy joined the Manhattan Project in 1943, working in the theoretical division to develop a trigger mechanism for the bomb. Afterward, he became a theoretical physics professor at Caltech in 1946, spending 40 years at the university. Christy died in 2012 at the age of 96.

Twitter: @jflem94



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