Fire suppression system installed

September 24, 2020

The new fire suppression system was installed in the Castro Adobe in summer 2020 by Rollins Fire of Soquel. Mandated by state fire codes, the new system was specially designed to protect the two-story adobe while minimizing visual impact on the historic fabric of the adobe.

Inside the building, the second floor the fire suppression system is almost completely concealed by the ceiling boards. However, the system is more visible on the first floor. There, an attempt was made to conceal the piping as much as possible from the visitor’s direct view — pipes were hidden behind the steel beam, making not as visible from the front entrance.

Outside, the fire suppression is visible underneath the balcony and on the second floor. These pipes will eventually be painted to match the surrounding material and should “disappear” visually.

Much planning was completed beforehand to ensure that the smallest pipes were approved by the Fire Marshal to lessen the impacts visually to the historic fabric.

The fire suppression system will be connected to the new water tank supply soon.  Protecting the historic adobe in the event of a fire is a top priority.


Water tank added to aid in fire suppression

September 16, 2020

Fire preparedness has always been important. But recent wildfires in California only heightened concerns about how to protect important areas and historic structures in the event of a fire.

At Castro Adobe State Historic Park, the restoration plan for the historic two-story adobe building has always included fire suppression, a requirement to open the space as a new state historic park.

Although adobe bricks don’t burn as fiercely as wood might, the adobe building is still very susceptible to fire damage due to the significant amount of wood used in the construction, including in the framing, flooring and the roof.

Plans to add fire suppression features have been in the works for years, though completion was expedited after the devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fire occurred in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties in August and September, impacting several State Parks in the region.

In summer 2020, a fire suppression system — including a modern sprinkler system — was installed inside the building.

This month, a 10,000-gallon water tank was installed to hold water for the fire suppression system, should the system need to be activated. The tank is connected via underground pipes to the south side of the Castro Adobe. A fire hydrant was included near the tank to provide additional protection for the nearby properties.

The installation will be completed this fall and will provide the Castro Adobe State Historic Park with the needed protection should a fire occur.


Walls repaired and whitewashed

July 31, 2020

Beginning in March and taking over two months, the interior walls of both floors of the Castro Adobe were repaired and painted. The work was done by Ingram Plastering of Carmel, and the crew was careful to maintain social distancing requirements during the entire project.

Each room was skillfully finished to ensure the original texture and feel of the wall was retained while repairing any large voids and cracks in the walls. Contractors were also careful not to disturb historic finishes such as the painted baseboard and chair rail.  Much of the baseboard and chair rail had been damaged over time, so infill had to be completed and those painted finishes will be restored at a later date.

For each room, the walls first were prepped and scraped of all loose finishes.  Next, the cracks were filled with plaster and allowed to dry.  After that, the whitewash was applied in layers and allowed to dry.  Each wall has about 3-5 layers of whitewash.  Ingram Plastering worked on the exterior of the building as well.

The work was completed with a generous grant from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and the Castro Adobe is looking great! (Check out all of these before, during and after shots of the first floor, the staircase and the fandango room on the second floor.)



Electricity comes to the Castro Adobe

July 18, 2019

The Castro Adobe is moving into the early 20th century with electrification!

The installation of a new electrical panel in Room 104 this summer means temporary lights both upstairs and downstairs can be turned on, and the panel has an electrical outlet to plug into.

New electrical outlets are being set into the floorboards. Electrical for permanent lights is also being installed upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs outlets are in progress, but this is a difficult job given the unique construction of the adobe and the historical nature of the building.

This work allows the removal of the temporary electrical panel and post upstairs in the Fandango Room, returning the space to a more historically accurate setting.

These advances, which may seem small, point to the bright future of the building, which is in the process of being restored and opened as the newest State Historic Park.

Libro Castro is a big success

August 1, 2018

Libro Castro, a fundraising dinner to support Castro Adobe State Historic Park, was a big success thanks to our sponsors, donors, event attendees, as well as the many volunteers, Friends staff and State Parks staff who help make this event possible!

At the event, we launched The Castro Adobe in the Twentieth Century From Earthquake to Earthquake By Suzanne Paizis New and Updated into the Twenty-First Century by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. In the second edition, nine new chapters pick up after the Loma Prieta Earthquake to tell the unlikely story of how a grand old adobe, fallen on hard times, is being reborn as the Castro Adobe State Historic Park with help from Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, California State Parks and a community of passionate grass supporters.

The book is available for purchase at our five ParkStore locations, Kelly’s Books and Bookshop Santa Cruz as well as our online store.

Come visit the Castro Adobe State Historic Park during a monthly open house event and see the progress of restoring the adobe and creating a new State Park.

Libro Castro Sponsorships

  • Bonny Hawley
  • Don Cooley & Diane Porter Cooley
  • 30 Petals Fund
  • Peg & Paul Danielson
  • Storrs Winery & Vineyards
  • Mickey’s Catering & Café
  • Lighthouse Bank
  • The Sixes & Eights
  • Barry & Susan Pearlman
  • Corralitos Brewing Company
  • Martinelli & Co.
  • Aqua Green Landscape Irrigation
  • D’La Colmena Market & Catering
  • Hutchinson and Bloodgood LLP
  • Don Nielsen
  • Georgann & John Scally
  • Simmons Eye Care
  • Charlene & Phil Duval
  • Maggie Mathias
  • Taylor Dial
  • Miller Maxfield, Inc.
  • The Sibbett Group
  • Burroughs-Braley Wealth Management

  • Anna Kammer & Dan Fallorina
  • Annieglass
  • Patagonia
  • KB Farms (Kitayama Brothers)
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Growers Association
  • Elkhorn Slough Safari
  • Corralitos Feed & Pet Supply, Inc.
  • Margins Wine
  • Nicholson Vineyards Winery
  • Ann Lauten Fay & John Blauvelt
  • Crystal Springs Water
  • El Pajaro Community Development Corporation, Commercial Kitchen Incubator
  • California Grill
  • Jo Kenny & Gloria Nieto
  • The Cronin-Paizis Family
  • California Pajarosa Floral

State Parks Interns help in Castro Adobe cocina

July 23, 2018

Six college interns are working in the Santa Cruz District of California State Parks this summer. The group meets Tuesdays to learn about one type of State Parks job. The interns have done a habitat restoration with Google volunteers and the State Parks resources team, they went on an exciting ride-along with the lifeguards, and they learned about ranger careers and got to see one of the brand new ranger vehicles with all its sirens and lights. They also visited the district office and learned about administrative careers.

In this photo they are working on a cultural history project at the Castro Adobe where they helped install the replica food items in the cocina. The interns are Graham Felbrugge from Cabrillo College, Tyrus Borowski from SF State, Bella Kressman from UC Santa Cruz, Sam Roberts from UC Riverside, Jon Bol from University of Nevada-Reno and Ben Dorfman from UC Santa Cruz.

Last seismic work completed at Castro Adobe

July 13, 2018

The exterior stainless steel cable has been installed around the center of the adobe building, concluding the seismic work at the site. The cable connects to the interior floor joists by way of a bracket and eye bolt. The cable is then threaded through the eye bolt and is anchored into the wall.

Plaster contractor Chris Ingram Lath & Plaster, use lime plaster to fill in the void and metal mesh is then installed. Eventually the wall will be whitewashed to conceal the cable install area. With the install of the cable, all of the seismic work is officially done at the Castro Adobe!


The crew carefully works on installing the cable and filling in the void.

Mesh is installed over the cable.

Mesh installed on the west side of the building.

Cable infill is complete.


Interior demolition removes stucco netting on adobe walls

March 30, 2018

The first steps to restoring the interior of the Castro Adobe began when the stucco netting (stucco and chicken wire), which had encased the historic adobe walls since the 1960s, was carefully removed. The removal of the stucco netting exposed the historic walls and finishes, a bit of additional historic graffiti, and evidence of an original shelf in the northeast wall of Room 104.

Contractor Brian Bogaard and his assistant remove the stucco netting from the west wall.

An original shelf, which had been demolished to accommodate the application of the stucco netting, was exposed. This corner shelf will be restored.

Northeast corner before removal of stucco netting.

Railing, exterior stairs completed

March 1, 2018

Contractor Brian Bogaard has completed construction on the railing and exterior stairs of the Castro Adobe. This is an exciting step forward to improve safe access to this historic structure. Check out the photos of the progress.

The balcony decking under construction. Stairs and railing haven’t been constructed at this point. View facing north.

The exterior stairs under construction. A wood partition will eventually enclose the exterior stairs at the bottom.

Contractor Brian Bogaard works on the construction of the railing on the façade of the Castro Adobe. 

The balcony decking, railing and stairs complete. This is the view facing north.




KCBS Radio explores bull and bear fighting history

November 30, 2017

KCBS reporter Matt Bigler recently visited the Castro Adobe to learn about the history of bull and bear fights at the property after recent archaeological work at the Castro Adobe unearthed what appeared to be the remains of a bull and bear fight pit.

Listen to the story.

Times were very different during the Mexican Rancho period of the 1821-1850. The Spanish brought with them the tradition of bull fighting. The grizzly bear roamed freely in California at that time and skilled vaqueros (cowboys) would ride and capture a bear with their reata (lasso) and bring the captured animal back to where the fight was to be held.

Prior to the mid-1860s, the spectacle of brutal bear and bull fights were enjoyed on the Sabbath after church services. Fights were held at Whisky Hill near Watsonville, in Santa Cruz at the junction of Branciforte Creek and San Lorenzo River (San Lorenzo Park) and at the Castro Adobe.

It took four or five vaqueros on their horses to go out and capture a grizzly bear. They had to lasso the grizzly’s neck and legs, and coerce the animal into walking many miles back to the mission or rancho. One description states that “one unattached vaquero might actually ride in front of the grizzly and tease him into charging, which was not hard to do, and the longer the charge, the more ground was gained.”

Once at the Castro Adobe, bull and bear fights were held in the front of the adobe building, probably in a corral or designated fighting ring. Women and children would sit up on the balcony and watch while the men were closer to the action. When the two animals fought each other, people would bet on which one would survive or be killed.

In 1854, a state law was introduced to “provide better observance of the Sabbath.” Bear and bull fighting were banned, but after the law was passed it was not strictly enforced. It is not clear when the last bull and bear fight took place in Santa Cruz County but in the 1870s, they were considered “disgraceful exhibitions, cruel sports and barbarous amusements.”

At the Castro Adobe, a reminder of the bull and bear fights was in place until the late 1950s when a hand wrought iron ring and tang was found inserted into a dying oak tree near the front of the building. It was used to tie up one of the animals during the fight. Times have changed at the Castro Adobe and bull and bear fighting today would be considered a crime. We can use historical accounts detailing the bull and bear fights to show us how much the culture (and animal rights) have changed since the late 1870s.