Cayucos Vet’s Hall on the Move

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

April 23, 2023

Work on restoring the Cayucos Vet’s Hall reached a milestone recently, when the contractors successfully lifted the skeletal frame of the historic building, and moved it off its damaged foundation.

General Contractors, JG Contracting of Nipomo, have been busy for months on the more than $11 million project, first removing all the landscaping and planters on the side adjacent to the Pier Plaza; then removing the barbecue-picnic area behind the circa-1870s building.

The Vet’s Hall was stripped down to the studs before it was moved by a house moving company. It rests now in the old picnic area on wooden stacks while the foundation is demolished and a new one formed and poured.

Workers with JG Contracting of Nipomo work on gutting the Cayucos Vet’s Hall in preparation for lifting the structure and moving it off the foundation so a new foundation can be poured. Photos by Neil Farrell

The building was closed to the public in 2016 after an inspection found numerous structural problems, including a rotted out floor underneath the stage that had sagged, roof beams that were not properly connected to the walls and a failing foundation. 

The County did some work that allowed the art gallery to reopen for a time while the main part of the building was closed but the whole building was eventually condemned and ordered closed. 

The scope of the project grew over the ensuing years, as the County sought a way to mesh fixing the structural integrity versus preserving the historic nature of the building. 

In the end the decision was made to restore the Vet’s Hall to its original appearance in the horse and buggy days of the 1870s when it was built as the Cass Warehouse and an integral part of the shipping operations of Capt. James Cass. The Vet’s Hall and Cass House across the street are at the heart of the community’s history. Studio Design Group Architects, Inc., designed the remodel, a rendering of which is posted on the construction fencing.

Much time was spent pulling together funding from various sources including Proposition 68 (parks and water bond of 2018); the Coastal Conservancy; and SLO County bond financing. 

Local citizens group, “Restore Cayucos Vets Hall Committee” has been raising money to assist with the project since October 2021. Over $400,000 was already given to the County and the group is raising additional money to pay for new furnishings — chairs, tables and more — that aren’t part of the construction budget. That level of community involvement has aided in getting funding from other sources.

See: www.restorecayucosvetshall.org for information on how to donate.

The Cayucos Vet’s Hall is actually owned by State Parks and leased long-term to County Parks along with the beach and Cayucos Pier, which also was completely rebuilt some years ago. 

In the past, the Cayucos Lions Club was in charge of the hall’s booking and upkeep but when the new Vet’s Hall emerges from the proverbial ashes, County Parks plans to run it.

The Cayucos Vet’s Hall has for decades hosted numerous public and private events — from advisory council meetings, to Bingo on 4th of July to concerts (John Stewart of Kingston Trio fame once played there), weddings and the Annual Portuguese Festival that was held at the Vet’s Hall for over 75 years. The Sea Glass Festival was also held there.

The Vet’s Hall, and all the events it hosts, is an integral part of Cayucos’ tourism economy and an important piece of the town’s history

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