City Hall Gardens

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ADDRESS:
809 Center Street 

Hours: Open to the public from 7am to 6pm 

RESTROOM: Yes

PARKING:
Street/Neighborhood - Permit Parking Only

DOG REGULATIONS:
Dogs must be on leash at all times

Notes: The Santa Cruz City Hall Gardens are a hotspot for botanicals in Santa Cruz. There are over 300 different species represented here, including many rare and unusual plants.  Conveniently located in Downtown Santa Cruz, the gardens cover the block bounded by Chestnut, Church, Front and Locust Streets. The gardens are open to the public from 7am to 6pm or 30 minutes after public meetings.

The 1937 Monterey-Colonial Santa Cruz City Hall was the garden estate of the millionaire Frederick Augustus Hihn, who built a magnificent 1871 Italian Villa mansion where the 1965 City Hall Annex is today…The Gardens were world famous, containing rare plants from around the globe. It also boasted the world’s largest rose bush. These lush gardens were often shown in brochures promoting California as a year-round garden spot.

After the city purchased the mansion from the Hihn heirs in 1920, the gardens became a public park, named “Hihn Park” in honor of its creator. Though the name Civic Gardens seems to have been the popular name, Ross Eric Gibson writes “these gardens covered the entire block from Chestnut Street to Cedar Street (before Center Street was cut through it).”

In the 1930’s, the gardens and the unique history of the area determined the architect chosen and the style of the City Hall replacement. The replacement was built in front of the old Hihn Mansion. Deemed to no longer “fit in” Hihn Mansion was sold to a wrecker for $1. The community learned the gardens would be removed. The plants in the botanical gardens were salvaged by the SC community and donated to the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair Treasure Island Site. Golden Gate Park Botanical Gardens was the recipient of the plants after Fair

The current gardens at the City Hall are a change from the famous gardens at the F.A. Hihn Home on-site previously, yet the spirit of place remains.

Volunteer opportunities:

City of Santa Cruz | CityServe

UC Master Gardeners of Monterey Bay | mbmg.ucanr.edu