Seabright Beach in Santa Cruz was once known as Castle Beach because of the ‘Scholl-Marr Castle’ landmark that once stood tall there long ago at the foot of Pilkington, Mott and Cypress Streets between 1900 and 1967.
The Castle was first built by James Pilkington in 1899-90 and was originally called the Seabright Bathhouse. The design of the building mimicked that of a medieval castle, however, it was constructed with wood walls. Seabright residents embraced it as their answer to the nearby Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and their own local attraction, and a defining part of the Seabright neighborhood.
In 1918 Pilkington's son, Louis, expanded the building to include a dining room and other features and renamed it the Scholl-Mar Castle after his business partner Conrad Scholl, who took over the management of the bathhouse.
The Castle bisected the beach and created an effective wind break that made the beach next to it a popular destination for families, sunbathers and volleyball players. It had a snack bar, a restaurant, and a shop to rent bathing suits and various beach supplies.
In the 1940's, it became a restaurant called the Casa del Mar, and then later operated as an art gallery in the 1950’s.
During most of its existence, the Castle was battered by winter storms and subjected to massive waves attacking it and the bluff nearly every year. Eventually time had taken its toll and, as a result, the battered Castle was demolished In March 1967.
Today, you’d never know it existed there at all – there are no telltale signs and there’s nothing left of it. The landscape of this still very popular dog-friendly beach, renamed Seabright Beach, has changed much since those days. It’s now very wide and much better protected since the building of the west jetty (with its distinctive huge cement “tetrapods” and Walton Lighthouse) in the early 1960’s to create the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor.
And with that, the name Castle Beach has largely faded into history.
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