In 1827 Nicholas Dodero, a twenty-three year old sailer from Italy on the ship, the Maria Ester, decided not to re-board after they docked in San Francisco. Eventually, he made his way to Santa Cruz, and in 1840 became a naturalized citizen of Mexico at the Villa de Branciforte. No Spanish grants had been made in what is now Santa Cruz, but under Mexican rule this changed and about a quarter of a million acres or more were given in grants. In 1844, Mexico granted Dodero the Rancho Tres Ojos de Agua consisting of 176 acres on the Westside. The Rancho stretched from what is now Mission Hill Junior High School up Spring St. to the corner of UCSC and down to Harvey West Park. The name, Tres Ojos de Agua means three eyes of water. It refers to the three springs which are still active, one at Westlake pond, one at Messiah Lutheran Church on High St. and the third at the top of Spring St. in the old Kalkar quarry. This third spring named Dodero spring, feeds a creek from which the water for our farm irrigation comes. Nicholas Dodero built a Grist mill on this creek and diverted water to the Santa Cruz Mission plaza and reservoir in 1859.
The land passed hands to Nelson Bixby, one of Santa Cruz’s early shipping men, who sold it to Henry Meyrick in 1877. Meyrick built the first house on the property. In 1906 Charles Caldwell Moore bought the property and over the next ten years created a Santa Cruz estate and farm. C. C. Moore was a prominent San Franciscan businessman who owned his own shipping firm and became president of the San Francisco Pan-Pacific International Exposition of 1915.
C. C. Moore commissioned Julia Morgan to help with the Pan-Pacific International Exposition, and then design the buildings for his Santa Cruz “get away.” Julia Morgan is best known as the architect of San Simeon, William Hearst’s country palace on the Big Sur coast. She was the first woman to be admitted to the prestigious Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris. Moore asked Morgan to build the thirty room farm house, some guest houses, and an “entertainment casino” on the grounds, as he planned to entertain widely and wanted to have the best possible facilities. Working in redwood and minimizing the disturbance to the site, she managed to convey to visitors that they were staying in a kind of wooded paridise. The buildings including the barn shown on our header slideshow, show her rustic Craftsman-Bungalow style and attention to detail. The barn includes angled outside windows to reduce the heat from direct sun on the horse stalls. Each stall had a chute up to the full length hay loft above to facilitate feeding the animals. Hay was loaded at the barn ends by block and tackle and slid down rails installed in the center of the redwood ceiling trusses.
The caretaker of the farm lived in the original Meyrick house and ran the farm year round shipping eggs, milk and produce up to Moore on the Southern Pacific Railway line which left Santa Cruz daily from the station on Washington St. When C. C. Moore and guests would arrive on the same train, the caretaker would make arrangements with the neighboring Cowell ranch to borrow enough cars and drivers to bus everyone up to the farm.
C. C. Moore included a 9 hole golf course, tennis courts and pool on his estate and built several cascading ponds through which the Dodero spring creek flowed. After the Pan-Pacific Exposition concluded, he transplanted many of the trees and shrubs to his lavishly landscaped grounds in Santa Cruz. William Jennings Bryant was a guest at the Moore’s and dedicated a Redwood tree planted for peace.
Moore lost much in the 1927 stock market crash, and died of a heart attack five years later in 1932. His widow, sold the property to Emmit Rittenhouse, a Santa Cruz lawyer, and his sister Marjorie Deane.
We moved to the farm in 1967 when my father bought Marjorie Deane’s half of the estate. I was a sophomore at Santa Cruz High School, and for over a decade we boarded horses in the old barn. In the mid-eighties, I remodeled the barn into a house and over the years since have revived the grape arbor, apple and plum trees and planted more fruit trees. Over the years we had various small vegetable gardens. Several years we had larger crops of blue corn, and vegetables.
Over the last three years we have expanded this into a small scale urban farm and garden. Using organic and sustainable practices we have grown garlic, root vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, chard, Kolarabi, kale and more. Last year we began planting lavender and rosemary. This year we added more of both of these as well as growing flowers (Sunflowers, Morning Glories, Zinnias, Dahlias and many others) for my daughter’s wedding which we hosted on September 24th. Note the pictures of some of these flowers and a few shots of the wedding in the header slideshow.