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.


Thank you, Boho Castro sponsors

June 7, 2017

We appreciate the generous support of Boho Castro, a Bohemian-style fundraiser for the Castro Adobe, held Saturday, June 10 at Castro Adobe State Historic Park. This event is a fundraiser to support the opening of Castro Adobe State Historic Park. The following sponsors and supporters have helped make this event possible. Thank you!

Progress made on Castro restoration

June 5, 2017

The accessible pathway in front of the cocina has just been extended to meet the beautiful, newly built redwood boardwalk.


Honor the Jowers, past Castro Adobe Stewards

May 9, 2017

The Jowers, Castro Adobe stewards (1963-68), owned and lived in the Castro Adobe during the Bohemian era of the 1960s. The Jowers also were the proprietors of the avante-garde Sticky Wicket restaurant in Aptos, a center for Santa Cruz County’s artistic community. The Jowers were instrumental in establishing the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and even held early fundraising events for the festival at the Castro Adobe.

Victor and Sidney Jowers led remarkable lives, part of them at the Castro Adobe. Victor – reporter, restaurateur, Londoner – and Sidney – author, costume  designer, New Yorker – loved the Old Adobe, as everyone called it in the 1960s. It was Victor’s home  when he died at 39; it was the home Sidney left soon after when she moved with her two children to England, there to stay. For them, the Adobe was a celebration of culture, history and family, of the arts and of life.

Join us for a Bohemian-inspired gathering to honor Castro Adobe stewards from the past and celebrate recent progress toward opening the Castro Adobe State Historic Park at Boho Castro, the fourth annual stewardship event at Castro Adobe. Get tickets.

Step back into the 1960s at the Castro Adobe, a time when the Jowers family owned and cared for the property. Relive the Jowers’ good times, when an eclectic ensemble of their artistic friends made the Castro Adobe a Bohemian center of arts and culture. We’re honored to be joined at Boho Castro by Victor and Sidney’s children, Laura and Andrew.

Stewardship Honorees to date

Fred Webster, Castro Restoration Engineer
Elizabeth & David Potter (1968-88)
Edna & Joe Kimbro (1988-2001)
Jim Toney, Friends’ Board Member & Castro Volunteer