Live Oak Manor.
Prohibitionist Henry Clay Needham bought large portions of the Rancho San Francisco, surrounding the little town of Newhall, in 1889, for the purpose of establishing a "dry colony." The idea didn't sell, but Needham became an important community leader and philanthropist in addition to being a prominent orator on the national stage, even seeking the Prohibition Party's nomination for U.S. President in 1932. He died in 1935, and in 1957 his heirs sold about 770 acres of the property — the portion bounded roughly by Pine Street, San Fernando Road and Sierra Highway — to Mark Gates Sr., the funeral director at Eternal Valley Cemetery. Gates eventually sold off the 220-acre cemetery portion. In the 1990s, Gates' son, Mark Jr., prepared to develop the remaining 584 acres (including some adjoining acreage owned by SCV businessman Hank Arklin) as the "Needham Ranch" business park. The Metrolink (formerly Southern Pacific) tracks and underlying land bisect the property, with the Railroad Canyon entrance to the San Fernando Train Tunnel in the middle. Also of note is the Pioneer Oil Refinery, deeded in the late 1990s by Chevron to the City of Santa Clarita, on an "island" at the project area's northeastern extremity. The "Live Oak Manor" rock archway on Sierra Highway is to be preserved; it is adjacent to the future southern entry into the business park. Plans call for about 180 acres of dense oak woodlands on the southwestern side of the Gates (Gate-King) property to be deeded to the City of Santa Clarita as permanent open space.
H. Clay became an outstanding member of the Newhall community. He was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, helped build the Good Templar Hall, and owned the Newhall Water Co. Later he also owned a restaurant and one of the earliest gas stations in the area. He was also active in oil development on his own and adjoining lands, and organized the Pearl Oil Co. and the Neil Oil Co., named for two of his children. At one time during the Depression he constructed a free picnic area and campground on his property for use by the traveling public.