Who knew that there was once a train station in Los Berros and that the Pacific Coast Railroad chugged through the Los Berros Valley on its way to Nipomo? Or that the eldest son of William Goodwin Dana, William Charles Dana, lived in an adobe house there on Lincoln Avenue, which is still standing? Who knew that Nipomo was a center of the arts in the ’30s?
All this and much more can be found in Doug Jenzen’s new book “Images of America: Nipomo and Los Berros.” Jenzen, a native of Nipomo and graduate from Arroyo Grande High School, is now programs director of the Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos.
DANA is a nonprofit dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the Rancho Nipomo, which includes Nipomo, Los Berros and the surrounding area. In the book, the first photo is of a Chumash mother and child. Nipomo, meaning “at the foot of the hills,” is a word of Chumash origin.
Jenzen moved away for 10 years for college and work. He said he missed the area and came home. He found everything changing and was feeling nostalgic. After completing his master’s degree on the history of agriculture in San Luis Obispo County, he wanted to promote Nipomo’s history.
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Seeing other books on the history of local towns, he thought, “It would be nice if Nipomo had its very own book. Nipomo doesn’t get as much recognition as I think it should.”
“It was a really fun project to work on,” he said. The whole community came together to help. A lot of photos came from private individuals.
Local historical societies were willing to waive a lot of the publication fees.
He decided to donate the royalties to DANA.
People have been in tears at book signings because their family members were found within the pages.
It’s been “really nice to give back to the community,” he said.
Jenzen’s duties include educational programs, docent training and field trips. Students come and make adobe bricks, learning what it was like to live in the 1800s. He recruits interns from the Cal Poly history department.
Nipomo has a rich history. Dorothea Lange took the famous photo of the migrant woman with her children, who stayed at the migrant camp in the ’30s. Nipomo was also a center for the arts at that time. Several paintings in the house are watercolor or oil renditions of the house in earlier times.
Watercolorist Millard Sheets helped organize the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression to employ artists. His painting shows living conditions in the camps.
Coming up this month is the annual Heritage Day, a celebration that will include vendors, educational booths, re-enactors, food and children’s activities.
This year is special because the adobe will be almost completely renovated.
A cupola has been added, repairs have been made, seismic retrofitting has been done, the floors are new, and bright blue and yellow paint trim has been added. Heritage Day will be celebrated from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 28.
Further improvements to the Dana Adobe will include an education center, trails and a Chumash village. The book can be purchased at Barnes & Noble and local historical societies. For more information, call 929-5679.
Gayle Cuddy’s column is special to The Tribune. She and Cynthia Lambert write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cuddy at 489-1026 or email@example.com.