For a building that’s 90 years old, the Goleta Valley Community Center has held up well, though it is “long overdue for some love and repairs,” said Mayor Paula Perotte at the City Council meeting on May 2. Originally constructed as Goleta Union School in 1927, it closed in 1976, apparently for seismic reasons. Reports on the building’s historic, hazard, and condition studies were completed recently and presented to the council, along with the revelation of a “secret room.”
Former mayor and councilmember Jean Blois stepped up to the public comment microphone to explain that Charlie Johnson, the center’s manager, had explored the Community Center top to bottom during visits by the consultants from Partner Engineering and Science, Inc. In doing so, he emptied out closets — finding things like player piano rolls, she said — and opened doors, discovering “the missing restroom” in the process. It had once been a boys’ bathroom, Blois explained, turned into a storage closet, then was forgotten as just an obscure door in a wall.
Regarding the historicity of the Community Center, consultants Page & Turnbull called the main building a well-preserved example of a Louis N. Crawford Mediterranean Revival building, although the removal of the original tile roof — likely for seismic reasons after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake — lessened its architectural merits. It would, however, qualify for both the National and California registers of historic buildings for its role in the town’s early education system and growth.
Turning to the building’s current condition, immediate repairs of a crack in the basement foundation wall, removing dirt from foundation pier footings, unsticking windows, and replacing a piece of the sewer line amounted to $38,000 and were approved. The largest item in the proposed five-year capital plan was to more securely fasten the auditorium’s roof trusses to the walls and the walls to the floor. Along with upgrades for fire protection and improvements for accessibility, the five-year plan would total roughly $1.2 million.
The council approved a request for proposal for consultant services for the upgrades, and directed staff, preferably with volunteer help, to look into applying for historic status.