August 9, 2004
The Getty awards campus heritage grant to UCSC
By Louise Donahue
Long before the first student ever set foot on campus, the land now
home to UCSC was the hub of a booming limekiln business that filled
ships bound for San Francisco and beyond. Before that, Native Americans
known as Costanoans settled the area.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cowell are shown in front of the Carriage House
at their ranch, which became UCSC. The Carriage House in the background
is now home to the University Relations Division and is one of
several original buildings that continue to be used.
Photo: Courtesy Special Collections, University Library
Capturing and preserving this colorful history is the goal of a $100,000
campus heritage grant for 2004 awarded by the Getty to UCSC.
The grant will allow the campus to inventory its historic resources
and nominate the area around the main campus entrance to the State and
National Registers of Historic Places. Known as the Cowell Ranch historic
district, the section includes the old ranch house, cook house, carriage
house, granary, and what remains of the cooperage and limekilns.
Were enormously grateful to the Getty for giving us the
opportunity to understand and document the rich cultural history of
the lands that UC Santa Cruz has occupied for over 40 years, and were
especially honored to be among the distinguished campuses that the trust
has assisted during the three years of its Campus Heritage Initiative,
said campus architect Frank Zwart. Both the university and our surrounding
Santa Cruz community will be much richer thanks to the Gettys
By the late 1800s, the Davis and Cowell Lime Company was the
largest operation of its kind on the West Coast. Drivers using the
main entrance to campus pass by remnants of the limekiln.
Photo: Courtesy, Special Collections,
University Library, University of California Santa Cruz
The grant is one of 25 Campus Heritage awards nationwide, and caps
a longtime campus effort to gain historical recognition. Gettys
Campus Heritage Initiative, begun in 2002, has awarded more than
$7 million to more than 50 colleges and universities in a nationwide
effort to preserve historic buildings, sites, and landscapes. The Getty
is one of the largest philanthropic supporters of visual arts in the
country and a leader in conservation and research in its field.
Were very excited, said John Barnes, director of
campus planning at UC Santa Cruz. The Gettys support is
going to help us a lot in terms of understanding what resources we have
on campus, and in gaining more visibility for some of the structures
we have at the entrance to campus. We actually are sitting on a very
culturally significant site here.
Barnes will direct the historical recognition effort, but faculty members
and studentsas interns and through independent-study classesare
also expected to play a major role in the research. Barnes plans to
work with history of art and visual culture professor Virginia Jansen,
who teaches courses on the history of UCSC campus planning and the history
of American campus planning, as well as Assistant Professor Sheila Crane
of history of art and visual culture, who specializes in modern architectural
The University of California at Santa Cruz is renowned for its
beautiful campus," said Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Grant
Program. "The Getty is delighted to support the university's outstanding
effort to study and preserve its important historic sites as it plans
for the future development of the campus."
The grant will fund:
Completion of an evaluation of cultural resources in and around
Writing of a plan to manage the cultural resources in the district
Nomination of the district to the state and federal historic
Compilation of a campuswide inventory of cultural resources,
including Native American sites.
The California State Office of Historic Preservation will serve as
the reviewing agency for the Cowell Ranch Historic District Evaluation,
the Cowell Ranch Historic District National Register Nomination, and
the UCSC Cultural Resources Inventory report. Barnes estimated the work
would take nine months to a year to complete.
Im hoping it will add another layer to the story of the
campus as a whole, which I think has not been fully understood to date,
said Barnes. Its part of what makes the Santa Cruz region
It was in the mid-1800s that lime production was a thriving industry
in Santa Cruz County, and limestone-processing kilnsclearing the
nearby forest for fuelwere constructed on what is now the campus.
By the late 1800s, the Davis and Cowell Lime Company encompassed 12,000
acres and was the largest operation of its kind on the West Coast, making
Henry Cowell the richest man in the county. Cowell died in 1903, and
a few years later the kiln was closed as demand for limeused in
building materialsdecreased. The property was leased for grazing,
and a gentlemans ranch on the property continued into
Negotiations began in 1961 with the S. H. Cowell Foundation to purchase
more than 2,000 acres of the property--a small portion of the original
ranch holdings--for a new University of California campus; classes began
Today, several buildings from the ranchs limekiln heyday have
found new life in academia. The old ranch houseits formal entry
gate on High Street restored in 2002is now the Womens Center.
The Granary is a child care center, the Cook House is home to the Admissions
Office, and the University Relations Division has replaced the horses
in the Carriage House.
While some of these sites are in good repair, others are deteriorating.
Unfortunately, the more difficult buildings to adaptively reuse,
including the Cooperage, limekilns, Stone House, and Hay Barn, have
become victims of time and neglect, Barnes wrote in the grant
proposal. Listing of the district and completion of the management
plan would allow the campus to raise additional funds to preserve these
important historic structures within the framework of an overall plan.
Researching the areas history will also be helpful as work proceeds
on the 2005-2020 Long Range Development Plan for the campus, Barnes
said, noting that the campus is required by state law to consider the
impact on cultural resources before building. There are important
remnants of historical and prehistorical activity in many areas of the
campus, he said.
The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic
institution devoted to the visual arts that features the J. Paul Getty
Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute,
and the Getty Grant Program. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs
are based at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.
The Getty Grant Program provides crucial support to institutions and
individuals throughout the world in fields that are aligned most closely
with the Getty's strategic priorities. It therefore funds a diverse
range of projects that promote learning and scholarship about the history
of the visual arts and the conservation of cultural heritage, and it
consistently searches for collaborative efforts that set high standards
and make significant contributions.
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