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The History of Colorful Capitola, Santa Cruz CA

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By : Lauren Spencer    99 or more times read
Situated on California's beautiful Bay of Monterey, Capitola, Santa Cruz has served as a resort for more than 135 years. Built near a wharf at the mouth of the Soquel River, Capitola was founded in 1874 by Samuel Hall. The Hall family set up tents on a path and rented the land they leased from Hihn, to vacationers.

Although it is questionable where the name Capitola came from, many people believe that it came from Hall's daughter, Lulu. It's possible that she named the resort after a heroine in a series of popular novels she enjoyed reading. Capitola officially began operating as a camping ground and hotel when the Hall family welcomed their first guests in 1874.

Frederick Hihn invested in Capitola and took control of the resort in 1882 when he realized how successful it was becoming. In 1883, Hihn built 60 seaside cottages and enlarged the hotel to keep up with Capitola's growing popularity. Hihn also built streets in a circular pattern, bathhouses, steam rooms, and larger seaside concessions reflecting his own memories of what resorts in Germany offered. It was not long before Capitola could accommodate 600 tourists during the summer.

1895, the hotel was further expanded to become a 160 room hotel and the summer cabins were redesigned to look like small Victorian homes. By this time the seasonal population of Capitola was in the thousands.

After Hihn died in 1913, his daughter, Katherine Henderson, inherited most of Capitola. Katherine managed the Capitola resort until after WW1 when she sold the entire Capitola portion of her estate to Henry Rispin in 1919. The resort had operated for 45 years at the time of sale. Unlike Hihn, Rispin had very little to do with the resort and although Rispin hoped to modernize Capitola and make a fortune, he eventually went bankrupt in 1929.

For the first 50 years, Capitola had only been open in the summertime. After World War 1, more than a few people considered Capitola their year round home. It soon became evident that Capitola's out-dated sewage system and limited facilities such as fire stations. In 1933, a fire destroyed many homes and businesses in Capitola. Realizing that the disastrous fire could be used as an excuse to not only upgrade the sewer system, but also build better buildings, two realtors helped lead the way in reconstructing Capitola. They built a modern dance hall, beer garden, and post office.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Capitola residents finally voted in favor of incorporating in 1949. They hoped the intolerable sewage problem would be fixed and beach closures would end. Capitola officially incorporated on Jan 11, 1949. From this point on, Capitola has steadily grown and improved.

Today, the natural environment and the mild weather continue to make Capitola a lovely resort destination and year-round home. With beaches, art and wine festivals, the Capitola Begonia Festival which is over fifty years old, dining, lodging, entertainment, fishing, golf, and parks, Capitola has grown into a lively seaside village with a distinctively colorful, Mediterranean flair.
Everything you need to know about Santa Cruz real estate is right here at Lauren Spencer, Coldwell Banker Realtor will be glad to answer your questions about homes in La Selva Beach CA.

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