For more than 100 years, the neighborhood of the Riverside house
was defined by the Barson family's 30- acre Riverside Hotel and
orchard. Barson street, from Bixby to the riverbank, was bordered
by ornamental cedars, palms, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and
rustic sheds and barns. The river curved around the property, occassionally
flooding over the bank bordered by tall eucalyptus. The wide, sandy
beach upstream from the Riverside bridge was a famous place to fish.
Barson Hotel neighbors were a mixture of business owners, laborors,
clerks, printers, railway workers, and orchardists.
In 1945, the children of the hotel's founder retired and sold the
hotel and surrounding orchard to developers, Canfield & Gilbert.
The 600 block of Riverside was cut through the orchard and gardens
at that time and the orchards subdivided into "riverfront"
suburban house lots. In 1948, the hotel building was sold to Jack
Genovesi and a hotel and restaurant was operated by his daughter
and son-in-law Pete and Edna Marchesi. The hotel building was remodeled
in the 40s, and the old hotel was razed in 1960. A new restaurant
was built on the site. That business was sold in 1972 to what was
termed a "Japanese business." In the late 70s and early
80s the restaurant became "The New Riverside" which introduced
Schezuan Chinese food to Santa Cruz. The restaurant closed in the
late 70s, and burned sometime before 1982.It was an abandoned property
until the late 80s when it was razed and a new hotel rebuilt as
the Riverside Garden Hotel. It is currently (2002) operated as a
One Hundred Years of Lower Ocean
Santa Cruzans enjoy the coincidence of the 1905 publication of
our first telephone directory and our first Sanborn map of the twentieth
century.Begining with these sources, which provided names, addresses,
and building footprints, we can then create lists of names to then
discover those brief and ordinary newspaper articles of ordinary
Santa Cruzans: our parties, business enterprises, our obituaries.
By 2005, I hope to make available to local historians an annotated
map of the Lower Ocean neightborhood as it was in 1905. From these
beginnings, I hope that other local historians can continue their
own research into this fascinating neighborhood.
Here are the first two products of the map project. The 800 block
is the template of the remaining streets: Campbell, Clay, Ocean,
Broadway, Barson, Pearl, Jessie, and Bixby.
Block of Riverside 1905
Block of Riverside 1905
Pearl, Jessie, Lemos
Click to see an arial photo
of the neighborhood around 1915.
This timeline of the Riverside Hotel was compiled by Helen Susko for
Sandy Lydon's History class at Cabrillo College, Spring semester, 1980.
Her notebook of articles and photographs was given to the Barson family,
and they allowed me to use it in my research. Dorothy Barson told me that
Helen Susko had passed away some years after she finished the compilation.
||First records of property. American alcade grant to
Adna A. Hecox
||Tract leased to Henry G. Balisdell to raise potatos
||Alfred Barson moves to Santa Cruz. Works for Hihn and
Field and later grocery store of his own on upper plaza
||Before confirmation of Santa Cruz land titles, property
passes into hands of E. H. Heacock, judge of Superior Court.
Land (30 acres) bought from Judge Heacock by Alfred Barson. His
father had come to US from Worcestshire, England in 1849 where he
had been a contractor for England's railroads.
Added 2 stories and some cottages to original building. (70 guest
rooms and 8 cottages.)
||Dance Pavillion and Bowling Alley built on property
||New Stable. Electric Generator installed. Electric pump
for well water. Hotel electrified.
||Previous to this date, Aldred deeds to the town of Santa
Cruz a total of five acres for streets (Riverside and Barson).
||Run as a successful hotel by Barson family
||Sold to C.E. Canfield and Sons for land development.
||Riverside Hotel sold to Jack Genovesi