A history of the Polo Ranch barn
by Debbie Muth and Eric Taylor
Jan 09, 2014 | 4521 views | 1 1 comments | 87 87 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Polo Ranch. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
The Polo Ranch. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
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The Polo Barn, located on the Polo Ranch near Carbonero Creek in north Scotts Valley, was constructed in 1930 for Marion Hollins, a prominent sportswomen, women’s rights pioneer and entrepreneur.

Hollins rose to national prominence in 1913 when she won her first golf championship. In 1921 she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur golf championship and in 1923 won the first Women’s Championship at Pebble Beach. She went on to win three Metropolitan Golf Championships, two Long Island Championships, and eight Pebble Beach Championships.

In addition to her golfing skills, she was a skilled tennis player and considered one the leading women polo players of her day. Investing profits made from an oil strike in Kern County she hired William Wurster, (a prominent architect of the time) to design and build stables and living residences at her Scotts Valley property, Vine Hill Farm (the present day Polo Barn complex.) 

Hollins also developed the Pasatiempo Golf Club and the surrounding residential development utilizing a prominent team of individuals including Alistair Mackenzie who designed the golf course, the Olmsted brothers who drew up the master plan, architects Clarence Tantau and William Wurster and landscape architect Thomas Church. 

Wurster was a pioneer in designing buildings that were noted for harmonious siting within the landscape, appropriate uses of construction materials and blending of buildings with local institutions and cultures. Notable buildings designed by Mr. Wurster include the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, Cowell College at University of California, Santa Cruz, the redevelopment and restoration of Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco and the Bank of America headquarters building. In 1969 he received architecture’s highest honor, the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. 

After losing the bulk of her fortune in the Great Depression Ms. Hollins sold Vine Hill Farm and it again became a horse facility as well as a small-scale farm. From 1956 to the early 1970’s the property became part of the popular Santa’s Village.

The Scotts Valley Santa’s Village was actually the second of three Santa’s Villages built in the United States by developer Glen Holland. Elves, pixies, gnomes, story-book characters, puppet shows, a roller coaster, pony carts, a miniature train and Santa Claus himself were many of the attractions now occupying Hollin’s former property. Her spacious barn was repurposed to house the live reindeer for the reindeer ride and also housed “The Candy Kitchen”. In 1966 Santa’s Village was closed and the property was used as a large art and craft fair. However, that business was closed after a several years. After passing through several owners, including Borland, the property was purchased by Greystone Homes which was in-turn was acquired by Lennar Homes, the current owner. 

In August of 2009 the Scotts Valley City Council approved a 40-lot subdivision for Hollin’s property, which has yet to be built. In the original agreement provisions were made to move the barn for preservation purposes. However, in November, Lennar offered the city $1 million to allow the demolition of the barn, rather than to move it. The City Council is expected to decide on the offer at its January 15 meeting. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Civic Center Drive in Scotts Valley.

- Debbie Muth and Eric Taylor are members of the Scotts Valley Historical Society.

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Bruce Holloway
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January 11, 2014
The story says, "In 1966 Santa’s Village was closed and the property was used as a large art and craft fair." But Santa's Village stayed open at least until 1976 according to this website:

http://www.santasvillage.net/santas.village.scotts.valley.html

Santa Clara County developer, Noorudin Billawalla, purchased the Santa's Village property from the Holland Corporation on August 22, 1966. Billawalla continued to lease the property to Santa's Village Corporation.

In 1977, after the Santa's Village Corporation had filed for bankruptcy, Billawalla bought the whole of Santa's Village for $615,000, speculating that he could build a more attractive theme park there. The City of Scotts Valley rejected Billawalla's plan to create a Knott's Berry Farm-type complex, which would have included a hotel, a shopping center and rides.

In 1978, Billawalla changed the park's name to "The Village" and promoted it as an Arts and Crafts Fair, but it failed to bring in the finances necessary to continue and in 1979, the park's gates were finally closed.



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