In Memory of Fred Webster

December 1, 2015

On October 11, 2015, after a long struggle with cancer, we lost our dear friend and colleague Fred Webster, the structural engineer on the Castro Adobe project. A founder of The Earthbuilders’ Guild, Fred was a PhD graduate of Stanford University and was well known in engineering and preservation communities. Fred worked on many California heritage properties, including Mission San Miguel, Mission San Luis Rey, Monterey’s San Carlos Cathedral, as well as many other adobe structures in California, the Southwest and around the world. He was one of the principle investigators of the Getty Conservation Institute’s Getty Seismic Adobe Project (GSAP), the results of which are known and utilized internationally.

Fred was also a regular participant in national and international conferences, and the recent conference of EarthUSA dedicated its proceedings to him. Fred Webster was an outstanding engineer, and we were blessed to have a man of such experience and knowledge of adobe structures and seismic strengthening principles involved in our project. We will miss his expertise, dependability, and dedication, but mostly we will miss his smile, interest and engagement in our issues, whether professional or personal, and his patience and openness. Fred Webster was an extraordinary human being and that humanity is what we miss most.

The Family of Fred Webster has requested that those wishing to support the restoration of the Castro Adobe while remembering Fred, may donate to the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks in his name. Donations can be made online or by check (mail to: Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, 144 School St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060; please indicate “Fred Webster” on the memo line).

Messages of condolence may also be sent to Fred’s family in care of Friends.

Thank You.

Phase 2 Major Construction kicks off

November 16, 2015

The restoration of the Rancho San Andrés Castro Adobe, the focal point of Castro Adobe State Historic Park in Watsonville, reached a new milestone Saturday with the start of Phase 2 Major Construction.

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks and California State Parks have been working together for several years to restore the historic two-story adobe and begin a phased opening of the new State Historic Park. Work done to date includes earthquake repairs constructed using handmade adobe bricks, major seismic stabilization, preservation and restoration of the exterior walls and roof, restoration of the historic cocina (kitchen) and the Potter-Church Garden, and installation of an ADA accessible parking space and pathway to the adobe.

The phased opening of the new State Historic Park began earlier this year with monthly open house days, development of a Castro Adobe Teacher’s Guide and bilingual (English/Spanish) curriculum for school children studying California’s Rancho Period, school field trips for local elementary school students, and the hiring of a new State Park Interpreter dedicated to the Castro Adobe four days per week.

Phase 2 Major Construction kicked off during Saturday’s open house. The work will include construction of new interior stairs to create a larger space for the interpretation of the second floor fandango (dance) room, installation of a lift to make the second story fully accessible to all, final tie-in to the seismic stabilization system, and installation of a structural steel beam to strengthen the second floor, making it accessible to groups of school children and other park visitors.

Additional Open House Days announced

October 17, 2015

The Castro Adobe will be open to the public three Saturdays this fall! State Park Interpretive Rangers and Friends’ volunteers will be on hand to offer a “sneak peak” into the restoration process and to assist visitors who would like to enjoy handmade tortillas cooked on the recently reconstructed brasero (stove). The Castro Adobe is located at 184 Old Adobe Road, north of Watsonville. Parking is extremely limited, so carpooling is encouraged.

Hope you can come visit and see all the great progress being made.

Hilltromper releases Castro Adobe video

August 14, 2015

Hilltromper, an online guide to everything outdoors and active in Santa Cruz County, put together this great video about the Castro Adobe and the open house events this year.

The video features Charlie Kieffer, chair of Friends’ Castro Adobe committee and a direct descendant of the Castro family that came to California 1775 with the Anza Expedition out of Mexico and whose family was also one of the 15 founding families of San Jose in 1777. Take a few minutes and watch it, then join us for our next Open House.


Monterey Peninsula Foundation donates $100K to Castro restoration

July 16, 2015

The Monterey Peninsula Foundation grant will help fund Phase Two restoration work to:

  • Strengthen the second floor of the Adobe
  • Install a lift to make the Adobe wheelchair accessible
  • Move the interior stairs to create a larger space for the interpretation of the fandango room
  • Install new exterior stairs
  • Finalize seismic stabilization of the building

The Castro Adobe is an active construction site and is currently accessible during open house days or by appointment only.

Second annual Stewardship dinner deemed a success

July 1, 2015

Thanks to everyone who was able to join us for the Second Annual Castro Stewardship Dinner, held June 28 at the Castro Adobe. Our generous guests experienced the recently restored Potter-Church Garden, enjoyed dinner by Ballesteros Catering and heard from several gifted speakers, including Fred Keeley and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks Executive Director Bonny Hawley. See photos from the event on Facebook.

Learn more about the ongoing restoration of the Castro Adobe, which is poised to become California’s next State Historic Park and the first non-beach state park in south Santa Cruz County.

Castro Adobe to be open to the public

June 1, 2015

Friends of Santa  Cruz State Parks is happy to announce the Castro Adobe will be open to the public for limited Open House Days this summer.

The Open House Days will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 12 & 13, July 10 & 11, and Aug. 14 & 15. Admission is free with donations to support the park gratefully accepted. Parking is extremely limited, so carpooling is encouraged. Read more in this press release.

We hope to see you there!

A visit from Wilder Ranch Docents

March 3, 2015

The 2015 Wilder Ranch State Park docent class toured the Castro Adobe property outside of Watsonville on Feb. 21. The three-hour tour was led by Castro descendants Bill Fitzgerald and Charlie Kieffer. The class learned about California’s early Spanish and Mexican history, and also enjoyed lunch together at the Kimbro House.

Private tours of the Castro Adobe are offered on a limited basis.For more information, contact 831-429-1840 or email.

ADA accessible parking and pathway completed

January 29, 2015

Using funding from a Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County grant, a new ADA accessible path was recently completed at the Castro Adobe State Historic Park.

This path, which was constructed by a collaboration of Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, California State Parks and the California Conservation Corps, adds a wheelchair accessible path and van accessible space from the parking area to the Castro Adobe and restroom.

This improvement moves the Castro Adobe one step closer to public access for school groups and limited open hours in the future.

Furnishings purchased for the interior of the cocina

January 20, 2015

In November and December, using funding provided by a grant from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, furnishings were procured for the Castro Adobe cocina (historic kitchen).

These historically accurate furnishings include a table, a zarzo (hanging shelf), a sarten (frying pan), batea (trencher dough bowl), a cazuela (earthenware stew pan), plates, forks and knives and even some appropriate fake food.

We will continue to furnish the cocina and soon pilot programs with school groups from Parajo Valley will experience a Mexican Rancho kitchen!