Rancho Randado reflects the period when South Texas was populated with self-sustaining ranching communities before the advent of the railroad and its associated urban development. Founded in 1767 as part of an eighty-thousand-acre land grant awarded by the Spanish crown, the ranch was not settled until the 1830s, when Don Hipólito García, a grandson of the original owner, successfully repelled Indian incursions. A native of Mier, Mexico, García was connected to the earlier settlements of the lower Rio Grande, like many other ranchers in this area of South Texas. Named after the randas, or intricate rope work assembled at the ranch, the property was, historically, a well-known watering stop for travelers, including General Robert E. Lee, who visited in 1856 on his way to the border. Quickly declining after the arrival of the railroad to Hebbronville in 1883, the ranch's 300 inhabitants dwindled to as few as 75 in 1915, with full-time residence by the descendants of García ending in 1998.
The caliche-block ranch buildings are organized along a north–south linear roadway. The San Rafael Chapel (c. 1870) has a gabled nave fronted by a bell tower that was considerably reduced in height in the early twentieth century. Across from the chapel, a remarkable aboveground bóveda is a sizeable family burial vault with a large pedimented parapet. While there are several flat-roofed and raised-end gabled cottages typical of the Mexican border vernacular, it is the nineteenth-century caliche-block dam impounding a five-acre reservoir that is unique to the complex. Today, comprising a mere two thousand acres, Randado is still a working ranch managed by descendants of García, and its chapel is tended by Franciscan priests from Hebbronville.