History you can touch
Rancho San Andrés Castro Adobe
Neil Wiley

In November, some members of the Loma Prieta Club and a few male history buffs enjoyed a private tour of the Castro Adobe near Watsonville. Considered the grandest of all adobe buildings built in Northern California, the two-story hacienda features a spacious fandango room on the second floor and an original one-story cocina, one of only five such Mexican kitchens remaining in the state. Its long, two-story proportions and full-width open balcony are representative of a Monterey-colonial building.

Friends of the Castro Adobe and then-state assemblyman Fred Keely facilitated the acquisition of the adobe structure and one acre of land by California State Parks in 2002. Lack of funds delayed the rebuilding of the structure, but in May 2007, the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks in partnership with California State Parks began work on stabilization.

When adobe blocks couldn’t be purchased, volunteers made 2,500 blocks. The seismic-stabilization project dismantled the north cocina wall, rebuilt walls, coated with mud plaster, and washed with lime. After new walls were in place, stainless-steel rods were inserted to add seismic support. Roof work included new rafters, sheathing, and shingles.

Current projects cover the purchase of an option to buy nine acres adjacent to the adobe, restoring the garden, improving second-floor stability to support more visitors, and restoring the veranda, outside walkways, and interiors. After final approvals from the state, phase two will complete the final preparations to open the adobe as a public park.

The knowledgeable hosts for our tour, Charlie and Pat Kieffer, are directors of the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. Their long experience and passion for this project were obvious. We salute them. Our thanks to Shirley Hoyt for arranging this private walk-through-history.

Although the Castro Adobe is not yet open as a state park, you may be able to arrange a private tour. For more information, call Charlie or Pat at 831-763-9825, or on their cell, 831-334-9825.