The Museum Building

Grace Episcopal Church


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Joseph Peery, who was one of the earliest western settlers in the San Lorenzo Valley, originally owned the land on which the structure stands. Peery, “a most honored pioneer and businessman” (Sawyers, 545) owned and operated a sawmill close to the San Lorenzo River and laid out the town of Lorenzo close to his mill. In 1875 the town consisted of the Lorenzo Hotel, a store, and several dwellings (McCarthy, 16) (Elliott, 71). Peery included a “no whiskey” clause in each lot’s deed (McCarthy, 84). In 1875 the first Methodist Episcopal Church was built in Lorenzo on Boulder [Street] on land donated by Peery who was a generous backer of the church. During the 1890s there was also a Christian church in the town, on Center [Street], just south of Mountain [Street] (Sandborn 1897, 2), but little is known of its history (McCarthy, 87).

In 1885 with the arrival of the railroad, Boulder Creek realized rapid expansion. Boulder Creek, just ½ mile north of Lorenzo, was chosen for the terminus of the narrow gauge line from Felton, and when in 1897, a fire devastated Lorenzo; Boulder Creek became the dominant town and, as it expanded, annexed what once was Lorenzo.

During the following years, there was an increasingly aggressive clash between those in the town that wanted to restrict liquor, gambling, and prostitution and those that did not. Peery’s mill was torched as were the Methodist (1907) and Presbyterian (1908) churches. The Catholic Church, which was built around 1900, survived, only to be razed mid century to build a larger facility. Hence, this structure, the former Episcopal Church, located in the original town of Lorenzo, is the oldest surviving church building in Boulder Creek.


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Opening of the Church Article

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Grace Mission was established in May 1906 and a plot of land was purchased on which to build a church. The Rev. David Evans of Grace Church San Francisco held the opening services in Foresters Hall.

Mr. Arthur William Wolfston Darwall, a Lay Reader, continued to conduct services in Foresters Hall until the Grace Episcopal Church building was completed. Arthur was a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ben Lomond, three miles south of Boulder Creek, from 1903 to 1906 and he and his son Arthur Leicester Darwall, are credited with the construction of the Grace Episcopal Church building (Christian Science Society of Boulder Creek Historical Record).

Arthur W. W. Darwall was from a family of highly respected, Cambridge and Oxford educated, published, Episcopalian Clergymen. He left his family home, the vicarage in Criggion, Wales shortly after his mother died in 1882, at the age of 19, and emigrated to the Americas. He moved to California in the late 1880s and settled in the San Lorenzo Valley in the early 1900s, first living in Boulder Creek and later in Ben Lomond.

When the building was completed in November 1906, the opening services were held by Archdeacon Emery of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. A substantial article describing a brief history of the mission, the opening ceremony and some architectural details of the building, were published in the Mountain Echo on November 17, 1906.

Grace Episcopal Church is an excellent example of a building designed to meet the requirements of a growing mountain community. Boulder Creek was incorporated as a town in 1902. In the 1905 its population was about 800 (Hartman and Rogers, 5), in 1910 the population was 1,018 (1910 census) . The introduction of the railroad to facilitate the transport of lumber also enabled an influx of summer visitors. Grand summer residences, in contrast to the prevalent small cabins, were constructed for the elite of San Francisco and Oakland both in Boulder Creek and its neighbor Ben Lomond, and the population of the towns increased substantially during the summer months.

Arthur Darwall continued to conduct services and serve the mission with “untiring efforts” (Mountain Echo, 1908) until 1910 when he moved to Menlo Park to attend the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Thereafter the church was served by the Rev. Tillotson of Santa Cruz. The following years saw a decline in congregation numbers and given that there was also an Episcopal Church, St. Andrew’s, in Ben Lomond, it was decided by the Diocese around 1915 to consolidate the parishes, with St. Andrew’s being chosen as the permanent location. In 1915 the town of Boulder Creek was unincorporated.

The church lay unused for several years until in 1923 when the local Christian Science Society purchased the building. The Christian Science Society of Boulder Creek was formed in 1909. Charter members included Maude Hartman, wife of Judge Isaiah Hartman. In 1912 the Christian Science Society of Boulder Creek was recognized by the Mother Church and in 1923 Isaiah Hartman loaned over half of the $1000 required to purchase the Episcopal Church building. In 1955 the Society attained full Church Status and the name was officially changed to First Church of Christ Scientist, Boulder Creek. In 1966 the adjacent property to the south of the church was purchased for additional parking. In 1977, a Sunday school was built behind the Church and in 1978, when completely debt free, the Church was officially dedicated.

In 1995, the Church building was sold by the Christian Science Society to the Boulder Creek Historical Society (BCHS) to house the San Lorenzo Valley Museum’s collections. In addition, the site is used by Santa Cruz County’s Fifth district Supervisor, Mark Stone, each week, as his location to meet with local constituents.

  Opening of the Church Article
  McCarthy, Nancy. Where Grizzlies Roam the Canyons – The Story of the San Lorenzo Valley. 1st. Palo Alto, California: Garden Court Press, 1994.

Koch, Margaret. Santa Cruz County - Parade of the Past. 1st. Fresno, California: Valley Publishers, 1973.

Elliot, Wallace W. Santa Cruz County Calif. Illustrations with Historical Sketch 1879. (1st Reprint). Santa Cruz, California: The Museum of Art and History at The McPherson Center, 1997.

Luker, Kelley. Roads to Ruin. Santa Cruz, California: Metro Publishing Inc.,1998.

Sandborn Fire Insurance Maps of Boulder Creek 1892, 1897, 1901, 1908

Records of the Christian Science Society

Records of the Boulder Creek Historical Society

The Mountain Echo Newspaper on Microfilm: 1905-05-13 3:1, 1906-05-19 3:2, 1906-07-03 3:2, 1906-08-04 2:2, 1906-10-20, 1906-11-06

The Santa Cruz Surf Newspaper on Microfilm: 1923-05-24

US Census records: 1900, 1910, 1920
Sawyers, Eugene T. History of Santa Clara County. California: Historic Record Co., 1922.

Private Correspondence with Stephen Darwall Apr 2, 2006.

Hartman and Rogers, Boulder Creek – The Gateway to the California Redwood Park. Circa 1905.