Located in Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve, the Alma Cultural Landscape was a dilapidated historic site that exhibited remnants of many layers of past human use, including the 19th-century logging boom, the vast rural estates of early 20th-century industry leaders and the first Jesuit college of theology on the west coast. Included as part of the Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve Plan, the rehabilitation project sought to develop the site for safe public enjoyment in a manner that is fiscally sustainable and that highlights its historic significance.
On October 15, the landscape was opened for public access.
Following the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes, Midpen took the following rehabilitation actions:
- Hazardous materials abatement, site clean-up and the demolition of select non-historic structures
- Historic 1934 library and 1909 chapel "mothballing" (sealing and ventilation), restoration of the building exteriors, and stabilization of the chapel porch for public access
- Rehabilitation and reconstruction of historic terracing and landscape forms in a manner that restores historic circulation patterns and provides accessible routes for persons with mobility or physical disabilities
- Landscaping with native species
- Interpretative signage and programming, benches and picnic tables
- Safety railings, patrol routes and emergency vehicle turnaround
The land along the ridgeline has been deeply admired and repeatedly altered—by wealthy estate owners beginning in the 1850s, then by the Jesuits of Alma College from 1934 until the 1950s. Midpen invites you to form your own connection with this landscape as you explore carefully-rehabilitated layers of past lives.