Jane Fonda's leotard-and-leg-warmer days may be behind her, since overtaken by callings like bestselling author, Emmy-nominated TV star, and micro-home designer, but she applied the same exuberant self-improving drive that made her workout tapes such a hit to her rambling New Mexico ranch, and the results are mighty fine indeed. Architectural Digest recently profiled the sprawling estate, and despite its history, most of its current highlights can be attributed directly Fonda's way. Originally built in 1925 by rodeo producer Tex Austin, Forked Lightning Ranch was later the home of movie star Greer Garson and her husband Buddy Fogelson. When Fonda first purchased a 2,300-acre piece of the former cattle ranch, the only available accommodation was a two-bedroom log cabin, which is where she would stay during the three-year construction of River House, which she had built in the style of the traditional northern New Mexico ranch home, with a pitched tin roof, double-adobe walls, and an exterior of terra-cotta-colored plaster.
Apparently this site-conscious effort worked liked a charm: "When Robert Redford came to visit," Fonda says, "he thought the house was at least a hundred years old." Pictured above is the master bedroom, outfitted with antique double doors, an 18th-century Mexican wood sacristy cabinet, and hanging above it, a 19th-century Mexican religious painting. What follows are a few more history-rich interiors from chez Fonda:
The fireplace in the living room sports the ranch's lightning bolt emblem. Flanking the doors are a pair of Marion Kavanagh Wachtel paintings, and the two lamps atop the table are circa-1900 Handel. Above the mantle, a mounted elk that was Fonda's quarry from a Montana hunting trip.
In the upstairs galleria, an array of Navajo rugs and a saddle that belonged to actress Greer Garson, the former owner of Forked Lightning Ranch.