Help Paint The Wilder Victorian

The big Victorian house at Wilder Ranch State Park needs some TLC, and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is raffling off a painting to raise money for the project.

by Hilltromper staff

Dec. 3, 2014—You don't get to be a good-looking 118-year-old architectural treasure without a little cosmetic upgrade now and then. The Queen Anne-style Victorian at Wilder Ranch State Park was constructed in 1896 as a father's bid to keep his Stanford-educated son from gallivanting off into some big-city sunset. Enterprising dairyman D.D. Wilder's plan worked, and young Melvin Wilder settled into his capacious new home with his bride and continued modernizing the farm with electricity and the like until 1937, when the farm shifted from dairy production to beef cattle ranching.

So the Victorian played a key role in Wilder's position as a farm of many local firsts, including electricity in a rural home, by luring the engineering-minded younger Wilder to stay at home. But it's been a quarter-century since it last got a fresh coat of paint. What to do when the landlord is a state parks system that is challenged to staff its parks, much less bear the full brunt of capital improvement projects?

This is where Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks comes in. The nonprofit will put $15,000 toward the $30,000 repainting project—and it's hoping that $7,500 of that will come from donations. To that end, Friends is raffling off a watercolor of the Victorian by internationally juried artist Marilyn Simandle. The painting, done in the 1970s, was appraised at $5,000, which makes the $10 raffle ticket price a pretty good bargain. Friends will draw the winning ticket at the Holidays on The Ranch celebration on Saturday, Dec. 13, 11am-3pm.

The other $15,000 will come from California State Parks. Parks maintenance folk are figuring it will take 30 gallons of Cameo, Gull White and Tuscany—modern versions of the Victorian's classic three-tone yellow, cream and white color scheme—to do the job. At that point the cultural preserve at Wilder Ranch State Park will have a human habitation worthy of the recently spiffed-up equine accommodations; the horse barn got a lovely coat of paint last spring, thanks to a Friends-initiated grant, and was looking fine at the park's 40th anniversary celebration in October.

Want to buy a ticket or five and support a jewel of the State Parks system?

Tickets can be purchased, and packets of tickets to sell can be acquired, by contacting Elizabeth Shilling at 831.239.6012 or Meanwhile, come take a peek at the painting in the Cruzioworks lobby at 877 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, between 9am and 6pm until the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 5. While there, you can buy a raffle ticket from Hilltromper!

Or make a tax-deductive contribution to Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, designated to the “Paint the Victorian Fund." It will be gratefully accepted.