This is the story of a family that made extraordinary contributions to San Jose's agricultural, business, and cultural life. The patriarch of the family was Theophilus Kirk, a self-made man and one of Santa Clara Valley's first entrepreneurs. In 1858, he established the Kirk Ranch, one of the earliest ranches in San Jose, California. Theophilus transformed his 428 acres of wild grassland, formerly a part of Rancho San Juan Bautista, into lush, green orchards and fields. Water was the liquid gold that enabled this transformation, and without doubt Mr. Kirk's innovations in irrigation were largely responsible for the first flowering of the Valley. The Kirk Ditch Company, founded by brothers Theophilus and Socrates Kirk, brought water from Coyote Creek to the valley's farms and ranches, creating an oasis of peach, prune, cherry, and apricot orchards that came to be called "The Valley of Heart's Delight." During the six decades that he lived and worked in San Jose, Mr. Kirk established himself as a leader in the city's business and social community.
The generations that came after Theophilus Kirk continued his work. They were ranchers and orchardists first. But they were also actively involved in San Jose's social and cultural life, and were prominent philanthropists in the community.
The family estate was inherited by Dorothy Bogen Farrington, wife of Theophilus Kirk's grandson, Theo Kirk Farrington. In addition to being a savvy business woman who grew the family fortune through careful investments, Mrs. Farrington was a woman of immense wit, charm, and generosity. She opened the Kirk-Farrington home to a wide circle of friends, and to cultural and community functions. She donated her time and money to causes dear to her, and was active almost until her death in running the Foundation she started as a means to continue her generous giving.
The Kirk family and Dorothy Farrington left behind a rich legacy that is preserved to this day by the Farrington Historical Foundation.