Gilroy Hot Springsand California State Parks

California State Parks, the latest owner of Gilroy HotSprings has embarked on a project to preserve, document, and eventually re-open the famous property. Closed to the general public for over forty years, it ishoped that one day people will be able to enjoy the property again, and learnmore about its multi-layered history.  Thiswill not happen, however, without the support of volunteers. Recently, StateParks has partnered with former residents of the property as well as numerousinterested community members in forming a volunteer group to be called Friendsof Gilroy Hot Springs.

What is needed
Vandalism and natural decay have taken their toll. Becausethe site contains no utilities, caring for it has been very difficult. Engineerestimates to bring partial utilities back to the site are over $850,000. Muchwork is also needed to secure the remaining buildings and features that tell thestory of the property. Despite these obstacles, Gilroy Hot Springs is worthsaving. It is an important part of our story, whether Japanese or non-Japanese.If you are interested in being a part of the future of this significant placefill out a Volunteer Information Sheet and send it to State Parks.

Eddie Guaracha, State Parks Regional Superintendent, listens to Matt Bischoff, Historian III
Brief History of GilroyHot Springs
     Beginning in the late 1860s, George Roop built an elaboratethree-story hotel at Gilroy Hot Springs, followed later by cabins, hotel annex,club house, two restaurants, swimming pools, and private baths. The hot springwaters were reported to have curative properties, and people came from far andwide to partake. In the 1910s, more improvements were made by William McDonald,including a swimming pool and new cabins. As the access road was improved forautomobile traffic, day use increased, and the resort became famous for itsparties, dances, socials, and poker games. By the late 1920s, however, theresort began to decline. In 1938 it was purchased by prominent Watsonville lettuce grower, H.K. Sakata.
     Sakata soon set about improving the resort, giving theresort more characteristics of a Japanese hot spring establishment.Japanese-style bathing facilities were installed, along with traditionalJapanese plantings throughout the grounds. Sakata created a place where Issei(first generation Japanese Americans) could escape from the larger culture whichoften discriminated against them. In Mr. Sakata's words the resort wasdesigned to be "ideal for aging Issei to take a rest physically andmentally." It truly became a place of retreat and renewal, and as one man putit "a place of our own." The outbreak of World War II changed his plans, asJapanese on the west coast were removed to internment camps. After the war,however, Mr. Sakata opened his resort to many returning internees, giving them aplace from which to begin their lives again. In 1946, he reopened the resort tothe public, hiring several competent managers and caretakers to operate it.Sakata's dreams for the resort were realized, as it became a place whereJapanese people could feel like they were at home, and experience an importantpart of their culture. By 1964, however, mounting difficulties related toutilities forced Sakata to sell. At that time it was purchased by a limitedpartnership which operated the resort for their private use. A fire in 1980consumed the hotel, club house, and several other buildings. Later, the propertywas purchased by the Nature Conservancy, who in turn sold it to California StateParks in 2003. 
     Today, despite the loss of numerous buildings, Gilroy HotSprings retains several buildings and features to reflect elements of its earlydays, as well as its later Japanese incarnation. In recognition of the site’simportance, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Henry Kato with Kitaji niece & sister-in-law
Former manager 
Henry Kato 
the waters
                                                  [Photos by Phill Laursen]
Henry Kato with Sakata granddaughter, Arlene Osato


 Friendsof Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs

VolunteerInformation Sheet





(i.e.: area resident,park volunteer, Historical Society, Pineridge Association, school, cityemployee, etc.)

Experiencewith Gilroy Hot Springs 

(i.e.: grew up there, went there as a child,never visited -curious, etc.)

Areasof Interest___________________________________________________________________
(i.e.: preservation,restoration, renovation, natural history, reopen to public, mineral springuse,..)

Ican help in these areas:

____ Publicity/Advocacy ____ Historical Documentation andResearch
____  Preservation Work ____ LongRange Planning
____ Fund Raising ____ Site Stewardship
____ Work Projects ____

Please Return to:

Matt C.Bischoff, Historian 
California StateParks
 2211 Garden Road
 Monterey ,   CA 93940

(Clickhere for a Printable pdf copy)