Castro Adobe Receives Grant

The Castro Adobe is using new grant money to show the world that historic buildings can be ADA accessible.

by Samantha Chavez

July 27, 2015–– After a lengthy eight-month application process, the Castro Adobe recently received a generous $100,000 grant from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. The grant money will help pay for the construction required to make the Castro Adobe ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible. Few historic buildings, and even fewer adobe buildings, have ADA accessible second floors. The new additions to the Adobe are all part of an ongoing million dollar restoration project that started in 2007.

Built in 1848-1849, the Castro Adobe is the only two-story adobe building in Santa Cruz County. It boasts the first fandango or dance floor in the county and has one of only a few Rancho-era cocinas (kitchens) in the state. Currently, the Adobe’s second floor can hold about ten people. Not exactly the carrying capacity needed to host a dance. A reinforced second floor is in the works to allow access to the Adobe’s unique feature. A flight of stairs that cuts into a portion of the dance floor will be moved to create a spacious and historically accurate fandango room. A wheelchair lift and new code compliant interior stairs will allow all people to access the second floor and see the fandango room where dons and doñas hosted dances for the whole rancho.

Previous restoration saw the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks and the California Conservation Corps band together to repair the damage caused by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Volunteers first built 85-pound adobe bricks by hand– 2,500 of them. These bricks helped rebuild the cocina wall and the south wall of the Adobe. The restored garden, designed in the 1970s by landscape architect Thomas Church, reflects a different, but important, time period of the Adobe’s history. As with any building in California, earthquake safety is a high priority. Castro Adobe Project Manager Jessica Kusz describes the new earthquake safe frame of the Castro Adobe as, “…a steel rib cage for the building that makes it very seismically stable.” It will take more than another Loma Prieta earthquake to take the Adobe down.

While the MPF grant allows the Castro Adobe to complete another significant portion of their restorations, it still needs a lot of preservation work. The interior of the house lies unfurnished and a balcony needs to be replaced. The house also needs repairs throughout the interior. The new wheelchair lift can provide access to visitors in a wheelchair, but it’ll be some time before anyone can see the completely restored Adobe.

The Adobe will be opening in phases with a few open houses throughout the year. The hope is that in the next few years the Adobe will officially open. But as with any ongoing construction projects the deadline is not set in stone–or adobe. Until then, visitors are welcome to take a peek at the restoration process during the Adobe’s open house on August 14 and August 15.

The Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks could always use more donations and volunteers; click here to help them out with the Castro Adobe’s restoration.

Find out more about the Castro Adobe and the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks here:
Ten Reasons to Love the Castro Adobe
Friends of Santa Cruz Sate Parks