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UCSC Honored For Rich Lime Kiln History

blog_slugAs the sun set over UC Santa Cruz on Oct. 30, community members gathered to recognize the school’s rich history.

Several structures on campus and the nearby Pogonip City Park have been entered into the National Register for Historic Places because of their significance in California’s limestone industry. The entire district covers 30 acres and includes the granary, now a childcare center; the Cook House, now the admissions office; the Cardiff House, now the women’s center; and other buildings including several lime kilns.

Friday’s event was held at the base of campus near many of the historic buildings. Chancellor George Blumenthal, County Supervisor Neal Coonerty, Former Assemblyman John Laird, and Friends of the Cowell Lime Works President Frank Perry spoke at the ceremony. The event was held to unveil a plaque outside the Cook House honoring UCSC’s inclusion to the list.

In the 19th century, workers on the Cowell ranch, now UCSC, would mine the rock from ranch quarries. They would put the limestone in large kilns and heat it with redwood-powered flames to create lime.

Workers would next put the lime in barrels and place the barrels in oxen- or horse-driven wagons that would be taken down Bay Street, then known as Lime Kiln Road. The barrels would be loaded onto the wharf and shipped to San Francisco or other cities. Santa Cruz was once the biggest exporter of lime in California.

Coonerty, who owns Bookshop Santa Cruz, said he thinks local history has particular importance to the people of Santa Cruz. He noted that books about local history have always done extremely well in his store. Other attendants and speakers, including Chancellor Blumenthal, expressed similar sentiments.
“Every place has history, but Santa Cruz, as a community, has long recognized the importance of historic preservation and what brought the community to be what it is,” Blumenthal said after the event. “This is, in a sense, an effort by the university to do the same in working with the community. I think we all recognize how important this area has been in the history of the community and of the university. Part going into the future is recognizing our past.”

After the speakers finished, Chancellor Blumenthal and Frank Perry unveiled the plaque from underneath a black velvet cloth. The plaque, a reminder for generations to come, sits on a local boulder of local limestone, a true piece of Santa Cruz history.


For information on preservation and history, including a quarterly newsletter, visit limeworks.ucsc.edu

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