Historical Buildings Walk, Santa Cruz

Historical Buildings Walk (Self Guided), Santa Cruz

Apart from surfboard-filled shores, Santa Cruz is also rich in history reflected in the old buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While none of Santa Cruz's historic architecture sprang up overnight, a great deal of it was lost, or severely damaged, in a single go on October 17, 1989 as a result of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Still, some of the historic buildings have survived and today, thoroughly restored, define the character of downtown Santa Cruz.

Here are some of the historic spots that allow visitors a fantastic opportunity to immerse in a bygone era:

Holy Cross Church – one of the Catholic temples associated with Mission Santa Cruz, built in 1931; features a traditional Spanish garden.

Neary-Rodriguez Adobe – Santa Cruz's oldest structure, dated back circa 1810.

Octagon Building – a historic redbrick octagonal edifice, constructed in 1882.

Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium – home to the Santa Cruz Symphony and the Cabrillo Festival, opened in 1940.

Hinds House – a historic, Victorian-style edifice built in 1888-1889; the largest surviving Stick-Eastlake house in Santa Cruz County – now a historical inn.

Del Mar Theater – originally built in 1936, renowned for its Art Deco style.

Golden Gate Villa – a Queen Anne-style house from 1891; listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

To explore the historic part of Santa Cruz with its architectural landmarks in more detail, take this self-guided walk. Your next best thing to time travel!
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Historical Buildings Walk Map

Guide Name: Historical Buildings Walk
Guide Location: USA » Santa Cruz (See other walking tours in Santa Cruz)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: karenl
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Holy Cross Church
  • Neary-Rodriguez Adobe (Oldest Building in Santa Cruz)
  • Octagon Building
  • Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
  • Hinds House
  • Calvary Episcopal Church
  • Del Mar Theater
  • Golden Gate Villa
Holy Cross Church

1) Holy Cross Church

Holy Cross Church is one of the Catholic churches in Santa Cruz that has a connection to Mission Santa Cruz. The parish's building was constructed in 1931 in the same style as the original church building. One of the highlights in the altar area is the tabernacle used in the original church building. The domed ceiling features colorful decorative tiles.

The church has a collection of vestments from the 18th and 19th centuries on display. These vestments have been made of silk and feature fine detailing. Colors and symbols used on these vestments correspond with the seasons of the Church Year.

One of the top highlights on the church grounds is the garden. This garden features a traditional Spanish style, complete with statuary and a fountain. The garden has a walkway and benches that encourage visitors to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty. You'll enjoy multiple opportunities to take pictures.
Neary-Rodriguez Adobe (Oldest Building in Santa Cruz)

2) Neary-Rodriguez Adobe (Oldest Building in Santa Cruz)

The Neary-Rodriguez Adobe is Santa Cruz's oldest structure, with a likely construction date of around 1810. This adobe initially functioned as a duplex that housed the commander and his family on one side and the subordinates on the other. The building has had a second story since the mid-19th-century.

This adobe is part of the Santa Cruz Mission State Park. The larger area that this structure is part of was originally part of the Santa Cruz Mission. This adobe made National Register of Historic Places status in 1975 and has preserved most of its original historic character.

Visitors will enjoy seeing the original features, such as the stucco roofs and the adobe walls. The building is an excellent example of construction from the mission era.
Octagon Building

3) Octagon Building

The Octagon Building is an historic redbrick octagonal building in Santa Cruz. It was built in 1882, adjacent to the first (1866) County Court House, to serve as the County Hall of Records. In 1894, a major fire destroyed most of the nearby buildings, including the adjacent courthouse, but the brick Octagon survived.

In 1968, the records were moved to a new County Government Center. Many historic brick buildings on the Pacific Garden Mall were damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but again the Octagon survived. On March 24, 1971, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Since 1993, the Octagon has been used as the Museum Store for the adjacent Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH), and later as a coffeehouse. Vacant as of October 2016, the building is administered by the MAH.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

4) Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

Opened in 1940 in downtown Santa Cruz, the Civic Auditorium is home to the Santa Cruz Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival and also to the events that include meetings, exhibits, concerts, and private gatherings. For many years, one entertainment venue is above all the others in Santa Cruz and that location is the Civic Auditorium that has impressed everyone with its beautiful architecture and better schedule. Arched granite pillars cover the brick entryway and warm colors fill the halls to maintain an inviting, relaxing atmosphere. Check the building out by reserving tickets to one of the upcoming events.
Hinds House

5) Hinds House

The Hinds House is a historic building in Santa Cruz. It was built in 1888 and 1889 by Alfred J. Hinds and his wife Sarah. Its Victorian style has been preserved and it is the largest surviving Stick-Eastlake house in Santa Cruz County. Today the Hinds House is a historical inn with rooms rented out to guests visiting or relocating to Santa Cruz.

The Hinds House has been a historic bed and breakfast inn since 1982 and today it is the best example of William's Stick-Eastlake style buildings in Santa Cruz County. The current innkeeper of the Hinds House is Brion Sprinsock, and the house has ten rooms for guests, including the attic. The ground floor has common rooms, including the dining room, the sitting room, and the parlor. The original woodwork throughout the house is intact and polished.

Outside, to either side of the house, there is a large Norfolk pine and a 125-foot-tall (38 m) coastal redwood. Rooms are rented by the week.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Calvary Episcopal Church

6) Calvary Episcopal Church

Calvary Episcopal Church is situated at the corner of Lincoln and Center Streets, in downtown Santa Cruz. The mission of Calvary Church is to spread the word of God in Christ. Calvary comes from the new parish and it is associated with the meaning of Santa Cruz. Joseph Boston is the designer of the building that is said to be an imitation of a church in Pennsylvania. Nowadays, Calvary Church has grown and reached out to the surrounding area and to the entire community of Santa Cruz.
Del Mar Theater

7) Del Mar Theater

The Del Mar Theater was originally built in 1936, at the height of the movie palace era. One of this theater's highlights is its Art Deco style that is reminiscent of the period of its construction. A restoration in 2002 gave the theater updated sound and projection systems for a first-rate experience.

This theater is a triplex in grand style. You can easily enjoy the latest Hollywood blockbusters here, as well as foreign and independent films. Midnight movie screenings are among some of the most popular events hosted here. Local community groups also host presentations here fairly regularly.

One of the most enjoyable areas of this theater for many visitors is the concession area, featuring a ceiling in Art Deco style. Organic popcorn with real butter is one of the most popular foods on the concession menu. You can also choose from other popular local snacks here as well.
Golden Gate Villa

8) Golden Gate Villa

The Golden Gate Villa is a Queen Anne style house built in 1891 in Santa Cruz. The house was designed by San Francisco architect Thomas J. Welsh for Major Frank McLaughlin, a mining engineer and California politician. Visitors to Golden Gate Villa included Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison.

In the 1940s the house was operated as a restaurant, the Palais Monte Carlo. After passing through several owners, in 1963 the house was purchased by seafood magnate William W. Durney and his screenwriter wife Dorothy Kingsley, who sold it to the present owner. On July 24, 1975, the Golden Gate Villa was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Santa Cruz, California

Create Your Own Walk in Santa Cruz

Create Your Own Walk in Santa Cruz

Creating your own self-guided walk in Santa Cruz is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Santa Cruz Introduction Walking Tour

Santa Cruz Introduction Walking Tour

Santa Cruz dates back to the founding of Mission Santa Cruz, founded in 1791. The modern city's incorporation dates back to 1866, and some of the most popular industries were agriculture, lime mining, gunpowder manufacturing, and lumber.

In July 1885, three teenage Hawaiian princes took a break from their boarding school, St. Mathew's Hall in San Mateo, and came to cool off in Santa...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles