Pacific Ave And Cooper St 001 blog

Thu, Apr 04, 2024

Jessie Durant

Jessie Durant - Archives Specialist

Historic Preservation in Santa Cruz

Beyond its famed boardwalk and pristine beaches, Santa Cruz County boasts a rich tapestry of history. Amidst the bustling modernity, the city stands as a beacon of historic preservation, safeguarding its cultural legacy for generations to come.

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Santa Cruz County’s commitment to preserving its historical treasures is evident in its diverse array of architectural landmarks. From the Victorian elegance of the houses that line Walnut Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz to the Mission style charm of Westview Presbyterian Church in Watsonville, each edifice serves as a testament to the County's past. These architectural gems not only enrich the cityscapes but also offer a glimpse into the lives and aspirations of those who came before us.

Beyond its architectural wonders, Santa Cruz County and its individual cities are dedicated to preserving its intangible heritage. A number of community groups and government entities play a pivotal role in celebrating the cultural diversity and creativity that define Santa Cruz County. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and community events, these institutions foster a deeper appreciation for the city's heritage and its significance in shaping the present.

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Race Through Time, 2019

This year there are a number of important anniversaries being celebrated and exciting events happening throughout April and May. Two events not to be missed at the MAH are Race Through Time and the Historic Landmark Award Ceremony - we are bringing back these popular events to celebrate history and preservation. During Race Through Time (May 4th, 2024 12pm-4pm) groups participate in a fun and engaging scavenger hunt around town, while learning about significant and unique landmarks.

The Historic Landmark Award Ceremony (May 11th, 2024 1pm-2:30pm), sponsored by the MAH’s Historic Landmark Committee and the History Forum, will honor the Blue Plaques given out from 2020 through April 2024 (you can check out this past blog post on the 2021 awardees here.) Blue Plaques are awarded to structures in Santa Cruz County that are at least 50 years old and hold historic significance. From old banks to iconic Victorian-era houses there's always more to discover around every corner. Over 300 plaques have been awarded to structures throughout the county since 1973. You can check out the MAH's collection of Historic Landmark structures on History Pin. The 2024 plaques include several residences, an affordable housing project, a fire station, and recreation area in Felton. Come learn about these structures and support historic preservation in our community. If you are interested in applying for a plaque you can access the application on our website.

One of the first Blue Plaque Awardees - The Octagon, 118 Cooper Street, Santa Cruz

1988 Blue Plaque Awardee - Mangels House, 570 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

1990 Blue Plaque Awardee - Scott House, Civic Center Drive, Scotts Valley

1995 Blue Plaque Awardee - Mansion House, 418-424 Main Street, Watsonville

2013 Blue Plaque Awardee - Park Hall, Ben Lomond

2016 Blue Plaque Awardee - Casserly Community Center, 562 Casserly Rd, Watsonville

2022 Blue Plaque Awardee - Owl Surf Shop, 30 Front St, Santa Cruz

2021 Blue Plaque Awardee - Fachutar House, Music Shop, and Concert Hall, 303 Walnut Avenue, Santa Cruz

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Capitola Museum's Exhibit, "Little City Under Canvas"

Additional happenings around town include:

  • The iconic Giant Dipper celebrates its 100th anniversary with much fanfare.

  • The exhibit “Little City Under Canvas” - The 150th Anniversary of Camp Capitola is on display at the Capitola Museum, and while you're down there you can honor the 100th anniversary of the Venetian Court and the 75th anniversary of the City of Capitola.

  • Tune in to the preservation episode of Exploring Santa Cruz on May 6th at 3:30pm on 90.7 KSQD where Historic Landmark Committee chair, Don Lauritson and committee member, Nathan Goodman talk to host Mathilde Rand about the history and importance of historic preservation in Santa Cruz.

  • The Annual Santa Cruz County History Fair happens on May 18th, 2024 12pm-4pm at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park. Come engage with a number of the history organizations in town

  • Keep an eye out in the Sentinel for preservation themed articles from Ross Eric Gibson published on Mondays and Focal Point images on Sundays.

  • You can always pick up a copy of the latest edition of A Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture, at the MAH online shop, in the Museum, or at Bookshop Santa Cruz, and go out on your own exploring the rich history all around us.

In the face of rapid urban development and evolving societal norms, the importance of historic preservation cannot be overstated. By honoring the past, we not only pay homage to those who came before us but also lay the foundation for a more connected and resilient future. In Santa Cruz County, this commitment to preservation serves as a reminder of the city's enduring spirit and the enduring value of our shared heritage. As we stroll through its storied streets and marvel at its architectural wonders, let us pause to appreciate the beauty of Santa Cruz's past and the promise it holds for tomorrow.