The Riverside Neighborhood Before 1945

The Barsons, the Hotel, and Its Gardens & Orchards

The newspaper stories on this page were collected by Helen Susko as a final project for Sandy Lydon's local history class at Cabrillo College. Mrs. Dorothy Barson allowed me to use her copy of the compilation and supplied other photos and memoralibilia. Mrs. Barson's husband, Art, was a grandson of Alfred Barson, the hotel's founder.

I used Ms. Susko's collection of stories as a place to jump off and explore other topics.

Click on the small pictures to see larger ones, and read more information on the Barson years of the neighborhood. Unless otherwise noted, the photos were provided to me for this project by the Barson family, or else are reproductions of postcards.


The Record Broken

Miss Barson of the Riverside House sends 78 varieties of choice flowers

At a late hour last evening there came a beautiful floral reply to the Surf's appeal for Santa Cruz "to do her best" to keep up her reputation in the face of records from East Oakland, San Francisco, and Temescal.

Miss Sadie Barson, of the Riverside House, had been "out among the roses" and sent to the Surf office a basket of beauties numbering seventies-eight varieties of choice flowers, nearly all from shrubs and vines of choice kinds. Very few annuals are included in the collection.


Click to read more about palm trees


Click to read more about the Barson Family


Santa Cruz Surf, 1889

Fine Grounds, Rural Seclusion, Nearness to Town, Comfort


Crossing from the business part of Santa Cruz, the covered bridge, which spans the San Lorenzo and gives picturesque views up and down the river, one is easily tempted to walk down pretty Riverside Avenue, with its fine asphaltum sidewalk and its handsome homes on either side.



Across the foot of the avenue one comes, somewhat unexpectedly upon the large and elegantly laid-out and improved grounds which surround the Riverside Hotel and cottages, owned and managed by Mr. F. Barson, an experienced and genial hotel man. Here are thirty acres of lawn, shrubberies, flower partierres, orchards, broad walks and shady paths, with the pretty little river, the San Lorenzo, curving around the south and west borders on its way to the not distant bay, with the broad bathing beach stretching westward from its mouth.

Just beyond the wide entrance from Riverside Avenue, stands the hotel, a large, square, three-story structure with its plentiful sunny windows, broad porches, having a large and roomy extension on the rear, which contains the pleasant office, dining room, and many other apartments.



The house, always known as a remarkably comfortable and pleasant one, has received substantial improvements and additions this spring. It has been raised three feet and a broad stone foundation placed underneath, leaving a roomy and thoroughly ventilated cellar. The whole main portion of the house has been re-carpeted and re-papered. From the main hall one passes through an archway into the office, a charming apartment, looking out in three directions upon the grounds and opening upon the porches. It is arched, handsomely papered, furnished with all office conveniences, and will be a cheery resort for boarders. Several new and sunny bedrooms have been added on the ground floor.

Scattered through the grounds are eight cozy and comfortable cottages, while one of the chief attractions of the place is the handsome octagonal club house, which contains the largest and finest dancing hall in Santa Cruz, with billiard rooms, bowling alley, dressing rooms, etc.


Click to see the old photo showing the club house.



But the most material improvement, the one which adds immeasurably to the beauty of the Riverside grounds and to the comfort and pleasure of sojourners at the hotel, is the opening and grading of a wide extension of Riverside Avenue, directly through the orchards of the place to the river, where it forms the approach to the new bridge built the past year by the city, and familiarly known as the "cut-bias" bridge. This opens up a short and delightful walk or drive to the beach and bathing houses, a finely graded road bordered all the way by a broad side-walk leading through a newly opened addition to the Beach Hill.

Another addition to the advantages of the place is a fine large stable, built this spring, with accommodations for fifteen horses and carriages in proportion. the carriages and horses already belonging to the hotel, which meet all trains and steamers, will be housed here, and several other fine equipages will be kept for hire, while those boarders who wish to bring their own horses and carriages will find accommodation for them in this stable. Mr. Barson will immediately have placed an engine and pump by means of which he will supply water to the house and grounds independent of outside sources. The power of this engine will also be used to run an electric plant which will give ample illumination to the entire establishment. This last improvement will render the "Riverside" a little kingdom in itself, quite independent of outside supplies.

Click to see this invitation to the "Grand Opening"
of the Riverside House in 1877.









Guests at the Riverside Hotel

Surf 1886-1887

At the Riverside:

Cottage #1 is occupied by Mrs. J. H. Frank and family and Mesrs Sanford Feigenbaum and Julius Lang. Cottage #2 is occupied by Mrs. M. Weil and family, Mrs. J. Manheim and family. These cottages are charmingly situated in the eastern portion of the garden and from the broad piazza one may command a fine view of the surrounding grounds. Cottage #3 is occupied by Mrs. herman Liebes and Mrs. J. M. Rothchild with their families, is situation at the lower end of the grounds amid the cherry trees and close to the respberry and blackberry patches. Cottage #4 commands a fine view ofthe San Lorenzo river, and is occupied by Mrs. F. J. Burge and her daughter, Miss Nia Burge, Messes Sophie and Etta Jacods, Mrs. Altmark, Mrs. M. Resenthal and Mrs. C. Meyer with their families. Cottage #5 is entirely given up to six yound gentlement, who ar ein great demand and make themselves extremely agreeable among the young ladies of the hotel. The young gentlement are as follows, JOs. L. Eqquinger and his brother Ike, better known at the Riverside as "Peck's Bad Boy," Burt A. Rosenthal, Sylvan Rosenthal, I. Ettinger and Wm. A. Williams. At Mrs. Shermans's cottage, on Riverside Ave, are domiciled Mr. and Mrs. H. Behrendt and their neice, Miss Lillie Behrendt of Los Angeles. Mr. Healey's cottage will be taken today by Mrs. Herman Eppinger of Dixon with her family.

A Dogs High Fall

Santa Cruz Surf 1889

He Jumps out of the Four-Story Window in Barson's Tank House

The remarkable escape of a dog from death is told by Mr. Fred Barson of the Riverside House. A couple of days ago a bull terrier dog belonging to him followed his sons up into the large tank house on his property. Fred Barson, Jr., and others had gone to the top of the tank house to view the flooded river. The dog had caught a gopher, and in trying to bring it to Fred Barson, Jr. followed him up four flights of stairs, but could not get up the ladder to the top of the house. He then commended running around in the bedroom in the fourth story trying to get out. Mr. Barson, who was in the garden below, heard the noise and looking up, saw the doog at the window of the fourth story. The dog, on seeing Mr. Barson, umpted through the window, glass and all, and fell to a rock forty feet beneath. he fell on his hind-wuarters, and, as it was afterwards found, broke his hip. Mr. Barson picked him up and carried him to the house where he cared for him. The dog now goes on three legs, but fights cats and hunts gophers as usual.

This arial photo shows the water tower. Click on it to see a larger version with captions.



Festivities at the Riverside

Santa Cruz Surf, 1891

Thursday afternoon Misses Mable Lichtenstein and Rosie Neustadter entertained a number of their young friends at the Riverside Hotel. The hours were very pleasantly whiled with dancing, games, etc. The game of "donkey" created much amusement. Master Fred Greenebaum won the first prize, a handsome card case, while the booby prize, a jumping jack, fell to the lot of Miss Olga Heyman. The young ladies were very ably assisted in their duties as hostesses by Mrs. S. Greenebaum and Mrs. E. A. Levy. At four o'clock the guests were invited to the dining room where a bountiful and delicious repast was partaken of. The tables were very beautifully decorated with flowers from the Riverside garden, and when surrounded by happy lads and lasses, the sweetest flowers of all, they presented a sight not soon to be forgotten. At five o'clock "all was over," and everybody declared the affair a complete success. Among those present were: Misses Mabel Lichtenstein, Rosie, Florence, and Heloise Neustadter, May Greenebaum, Gertrude and Lella Barson, Alice and Estelle Bachman, Olga Heyman, Rosalie Hart, Minnie Schwabacker, Toozy Wangenheim, May and Blanche Harris, E. Neubauer, Ada Joseph, May Bachman, Rena Jacobi, Pauline Constine, Masters Fred Greenebaum, Robert Barson, Milton Lichtenstein, Leo and Edgar Schmitt, Milton and Julius Aurbach, and Alvin Heyman.

Click the photo to see a panorama of the neighborhood at the turn of the century.

Santa Cruz Sentinal

November 1920

The Riverside Hotel always bore one of the best names of any hotel in the state and was the leading hotel in Santa Cruz until the Sea Beach arrived. It was a three-story building containing 70 guest rooms and surrounded by cottages and beautiful gardens. All the patrons were well-to-do families, most of them merchants, bankers, and professional men. The property was purchased by the late Fred Barson in 1870 for a private home. In the late 70s additions were built and the place became known as the Riverside Hotel, which as always been owned and run by the Barson family.

Click the photo of the hotel from the River to see an arial view of Lower Ocean around 1915.

The Barson Years -- After 1945 -- Other River and Neighborhood scenes
Riverside Home| The Lot | Nethertons | The Duplex | The Eudemons | The Boutelles | The Friends | The Rosewoods | The Neighborhood