(Left)Donna and Dave Stewart thanks the audience at the Santa Paula Chamber dinner for recognizing their efforts in restoring the old Jackson Hotel on 8th Street (Right) Paul Leavens thanks the audience at the Santa Paula Chamber dinner for recognizing his efforts in restoring the Cauchs building on Main Street. Photos by Don Johnson

Santa Paula Chamber lauds building beautification

February 05, 2003
Leavens, Stewarts awarded Chamber 2002 Building Beautification awards
Santa Paula News
Leavens, Stewarts awarded Chamber 2002 Building Beautification awards By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesFamily interest in restoration of historic business structures was at the forefront of the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce 2002 Building Beautification Awards, this year shared by the Leavens Family - owners of the former Cauch’s Drug Store - and the Stewarts, who recrafted an old hotel into the Santa Paula Inn.The awards ceremony and chamber annual meeting was held Jan. 25th at the Community Center where Citizen of the Year Mary Alice Orcutt Henderson and Business of the Year Whistle Stop Café, owned by Patti and Ralph Harrison, were also lauded.Mayor John Procter was the master of ceremonies for the event, which saw the installation of new Chamber President Anna Marie Manzano.Architect John Kulwiec detailed the history of the Leavens’ building, which “probably will always be known as Cauch’s,” which closed after decades of business in 1998.The Leavens family had purchased the building, located at 915 E. Main Street, in the 1920s and in 2000 decided to “make an investment in this town,” by seismic upgrading, renovating and redesigning the interior to create several office-commercial spaces.The Leavens are to be admired for “investing and reinvesting in the community and making a difference in the downtown,” said Supervisor Kathy Long.“The Leavens are very special people,” noted Brian Miller, representing Rep. Elton Gallegly. “If they see a problem, they look to solve it. . .”“Thank you so much for keeping this incredible landmark alive,” said Procter as he, like the other elected officials, presented a proclamation to family representative Paul Leavens.Leavens - also representing sisters Mary Leavens Schwabauer, Dr. Dorothy Carlson and Sarah Gilmore - noted that the family has deep roots in Santa Paula: “It’s a pleasure to be a Santa Paula High School grad of 1948 and see all my friends here tonight.”
Donna and Dave Stewart took on an “incredible challenge and turned it into a bright spot and welcome post for Blanchard Community Library,” said outgoing Chamber President Kay Wilson-Bolton.Built at 111 N. 8th St. in the 1880s, the building has a rich and at times controversial history; when it was sold in 1940 it operated as a hotel until the Stewarts decided to purchase and “renovate it with the true flavor of Santa Paula,” noted Wilson-Bolton.“The Stewarts had a vision and they shared it with us,” showing their faith in the future of the central business district and a perfect mix of the old town and the cherished new town.Now Santa Paula Inn is a bed and breakfast drawing more and more guests who appreciate the architecture and traditional interior design, said Wilson-Bolton.“The added a special touch of heart and soul while renovating,” the building, noted Long, whose proclamation was among the many presented to the Stewarts.“It’s hard to believe that Santa Paula is 100 years old,” with entrepreneurs like the Stewarts who invest funds and hard work into such a “wonderful restoration,” said Miller.“It was a real leap of faith and labor of love; I can’t say enough for that kind of spirit,” noted Procter.“It looks very different now but still is a work in process,” said Dave Stewart.“Four years ago there was no such place,” said Donna Stewart, who noted that the Santa Paula Inn will be the scene of an open house on Feb. 16th. “Come and see for yourselves what we have done. . .it’s a place to be proud to bring you friends and family.”

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