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Santa Clara County to Dedicate Restored Historic Landmark on Nov. 13

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. - Santa Clara County will dedicate the newly renovated Casa Grande, the County's second most historical building and home to the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum, on November 13. The dedication event, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., is open to the public and will include entertainment, food, children’s games, and presentations on the history of Casa Grande.

"We are committed to preserving the County’s historic past for our future generations," said Supervisor Don Gage, District One. "Casa Grande and the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum provide a vital link to our rich cultural heritage.”

Funding

Casa Grande’s recent $5 million transformation was made possible by the following grants:

$2,270,075 (approx) from the California State Parks, Proposition 40 Per Capita Fund
$1,736,692 from the California State Parks, Proposition 40 Roberti Z'Berg Harris Fund
$726,835 from the County of Santa Clara, Historical Heritage Commission
$98,586 from the Proposition 12 California Heritage Fund (California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation)
$98,000 from the National Park Service, Save America’s Treasures Fund
$75,000 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation Partners in Preservation Grant
$20,000 from the Robert N. and Florence Slinger Foundation, an advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Renovations

Renovations to Casa Grande have restored this grand old mine manager’s residence to the glory days of the late 1800s, with the second floor (street level) featuring re-creations of rooms furnished with period pieces, a sales area and the mining museum. The first floor (lower level) includes an audio visual equipped meeting room, event facilities complete with kitchen, restrooms and outdoor gathering spaces surrounded by gardens reminiscent of the era. The third floor features climate controlled archival storage space, an archives research and work area, and office space for Parks Department interpretive staff. Access has also been improved with an indoor elevator, wheelchair accessible ramps and landscaping in the front of the building.

Background

Casa Grande is a 150-year-old historical building associated with the early development of the New Almaden Mines. The New Almaden National Landmark Historic District, where Casa Grande resides, has been recognized at both the national and state levels for historical significance and was California's first mining operation started in 1845, before the major Gold Rush of 1849. Secundino Robles, a young Californian, discovered ore deposits here in the 1820s, later identified as quicksilver by Mexican Army officer Andres Castillero in 1845. Named for the famous Almaden mercury-producing mines in Spain, New Almaden attracted a worldwide interest during the Gold Rush, since mercury was the primary reduction agent of gold and silver.

Casa Grande is historic for its association with Henry W. Halleck, the manager of the New Almaden Quicksilver Mines in the 1850s and who was the impetus behind the construction of Casa Grande. Halleck had the Casa Grande ("the big house") designed and built by architect Francis Meyers in 1854. The six-acre grounds were later landscaped with the assistance of John McLaren, designer of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. For decades this classic revival-style mansion served as the official residence and office for a succession of mine superintendents and as a country weekend retreat for wealthy mine investors. Today, the property remains as one of the few above ground artifacts of that early period.

Casa Grande is open year-round Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays except for major holidays. The town of New Almaden is located south of San Jose, off the Almaden Expressway. The Museum is located at 21350 Almaden Rd. Phone (408) 323-1107.

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119
Tamara Clara-Shear, Department of Parks and Recreation (408) 355-2215
Posted: November 12, 2010