History of Goleta Valley Community Center
The Goleta Valley Community Center lies in the heart of Goleta at 5679 Hollister Avenue at what was formerly the Goleta Union School. The School was completed in 1927, for $100,000! It served as an elementary school in the Goleta Union School District until 1976. At that time the School District decided to close the school rather than retrofit it to meet stringent State earthquake standards.
Rather than allow the beautiful structure to be razed or sold, local activists and two prominent government officials, Congressman Jack O’Connell and 3rd District Supervisor Bill Wallace, led a drive to save the historic building for use as a Community Center. In 1977, the County signed a 10-year lease with the School District, to renovate the property and the Goleta Valley Community Center was born. In 1984, the County, and in turn, the City of Goleta, sublet the property to the Goleta Valley Community Center’s board of directors. They continue their stewardship to this day, continually improving the facility and grounds into the charming, park-like setting that the Goleta Community enjoys today. At the end of the lease in 2014, the City of Goleta will have the option to purchase the leased premises and use them for whatever purposes best suit the needs of the City and the community.
Over the years, numerous events have taken place at the Community Center
- An El Camino Real bell was dedicated September 24th, 1997, in front of the Goleta Valley Community Center, commemorating the route of the old El Camino Real and Highway 101, both of which used to run through Old Town Goleta, where Hollister Avenue is today. Many groups contributed to the placement of the bell, including the Women’s Service Club of Goleta, the GVCC, the Southern California Auto Club, the Knights of Columbus and Gail Marshall, County Superintendent.
- The Vietnam Memorial was established in 1986 by the Exchange Club of Goleta, recognizing the sacrifice of those who served during the Vietnam War.
- Placement of a bronze plaque on the sandstone boulder facing Hollister Avenue commemorates the journey of Lt. Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza who led an expedition near this site on his way to colonize the San Francisco Bay Area, between 1775 & 1776, the year this great nation was born.
- Veteran’s Day celebrations take place annually, full of patriotic pageantry.
- The Christmas Tree Lighting annual event is for the children and young at heart of Goleta, complete with Santa, presents and the lighting of the Tree.
- The events that have taken and continue to take place here at the GVCC touch us. Sometimes we are touched as a community, by the beautiful gazebo or the flags that fly so proudly, or the Vietnam Memorial. Others touch us as individuals and within our families, such as dance lessons, karate, AA meetings, church services, senior activities, birthdays, weddings and quinceaneras. The GVCC’s history continues to be made today and it remains, quite simply, at the heart of what makes us community.
"The Heart of Old Town Goleta"
Our south-central coast is clearly one of the most beautiful areas in all of California; a Pacific Ocean shore to valley, at the base of cascading foothills with mountain recreation areas only a half hour away. Flights
University of California at Santa Barbara, just around the corner from the Goleta Valley Community Center in downtown Goleta. In 1977, the seven-acre campus of the Goleta Union School was converted to the Community Center as several new schools were built in the early 70s. Since that conversion, the Center has undergone a complete metamorphosis.
The two-story structure still maintains the majestic Spanish influence but appears more of a town square than a school now. A front park Gazebo and winding brick path clearly mark this location as the hub of Goleta. The courtyard, fountain, and majestic trees create an oasis in the little downtown area. Over 350,000 visitors will use the Center, its facilities, or programs this next year. The Center is the home to the Community Action Commission’s Headstart program , the Goleta Valley Senior Center, three daycare centers, food programs, Legal Aid, Susan's Ballet, South Coast Karate, business seminars, training classes, many churches, and much more. It is now, more than ever, the focal point for media gatherings and political meetings and announcements.
The renovated property has lighted parking for 200 cars, basketball courts, a tennis court, athletic field, and picnic area. The building facilities include a fully licensed kitchen, 250 capacity Auditorium, a Dining Hall that accommodates 125 guests, numerous meeting rooms, and two dance studios.
The Center sponsors several major events for the community each year. The annual Tree Lighting Ceremony is held the first Friday in December and the Veteran’s Day Ceremony and barbecue, each November 11th. Let us not forget the senior Spring Fling, all free events for the public. Come visit us at the busiest of all places in downtown Goleta, the Heart of the City! The Community Center.
"March Madness” has a new meaning at the Community Action Commission this year. Since the White House in March announced a proposed 18 percent cut to the Department of Health and Human Services – which funds Meals on Wheels – staff, supporters and seniors are worried the program could be in jeopardy.
We are honored to feature Mary Felts as the New Year featured Senior Center member. Mary was born August 29, 1936 right here in Santa Barbara. In 2004 Mary saw an ad in the newspaper about the Senior Center. She talked to Dolores who told her all about the programs at the Center...