Our Vision

The CHAPS believe that horses and the disappearing natural world in which they thrive are necessary for healthy communities. Historically, horses have been essential to life in the United States for transportation, work, recreation, and encouraging connections to nature. In San Mateo County, examples of this heritage can be found at Folger Stable, The Woodside Store and Jack Brook Horse Camp. The CHAPS seek to recognize the continuing contribution of the horse by supporting the development and maintenance of equestrian facilities and activities in the County.

Wunderlich Park Upper Barn Repair - Folger Stable

upperbarnThe Folger property was one of the large estates built during the San Francisco Peninsula’s “great estates” period at the beginning of the 20th century. Built in 1905 as part of a larger estate owned by James A. Folger II and his wife Clara, the house and stable complex all were designed by the architectural firm of Schultze & Brown (Brown of San Francisco Ferry Building fame) and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The estate was built at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains on 1,500 acres of farm, ranch, and timberland (from which the wood was milled to build the structures). Today, the Folger district is part of Wunderlich Park, a 945 acre park that is part of the San Mateo County parks system.  While the Main Barn and the Carriage House were recently restored, the Blacksmith Barn, (sometimes referred to as the Folgers or Wunderlich Upper Barn), which is currently used to stable horses, remained essentially untouched and had deteriorated to the point that it would soon be in danger of collapsing.  As was the case with the Main Barn, and Hay Barn, it was in danger of being lost forever.  Although patched over the years, it had not benefited from any significant structural maintenance or repair.  A recent survey determined that the building’s roof had structural issues that would soon put the building at risk of collapse.  Over the years, the interior had been refitted to house horses in box stalls.  Some of the structural members supporting the roof were removed.  As the roof aged, it continued to collapse downward pushing the exterior walls out of plumb, thus hastening the potential collapse of the structure.  This Blacksmith barn was headed down the same road as the old hay barn that once stood next door.  Not a trace remains today.  For the last two years CHAPS has been working to raise funds for its repair.  



Planning the Repair

bats smA plan to perform the needed repairs in what became a very tight schedule was developed by the CHAPS Project Chair Linda Rizzoli. Linda is a senior construction project manager (her full time job is with Swinerton Building Management) who has a long working relationship with San Mateo County. 


In addition to the challenges of repairing a historic building, the building survey revealed that dozens of bats were happily roosting in several areas of the Barn. State and County rules require the protection of bats. A certified bat biologist, Greg Tartarian of Wildlife Research, was hired to determine what kind of bats, the permissible time windows for construction, and to assist in humanely evicting (temporarily) what were determined to be three species of bats (California little brown, (Myotis lucifugus), Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus), and a Brazilian free tail (Tadarida brasiliensis). 


The bats had to be convinced to find temporary alternate roosting prior to their winter Torpor which was estimated to be around the end of October. This task needed to complete prior to the start of any construction activities in the upper barn. The approval to proceed with the project was received on Monday, October 28th, 2013.  



Getting it Done

FolgerStable-niceArchitect Adolph Rosekrans who also supported the restoration of the Main Barn, donated his time to create the drawings for the repairs to the blacksmith barn. Project Manager and Superintendent Steve Germano of Lathrop Construction Associates developed the means and methods to shore the barn and phase the work, coordinated the crew, and was instrumental in keeping work moving forward safely and efficiently. Linda oversaw the repairs, which included trueing, stabilizing, and reinforcing the exterior walls, replacement of the ridge beam, rafters, half of the sheathing, shingles, and gutters. 

Alternate stabling for the horses currently in the barn had to be rented or found. Serendipity often plays a part in a worthy cause. Several stalls recently became available in the Main Barn. The horses were moved to those stalls not 100 yards away. 

The project was funded by community donations raised by CHAPS, including a contribution from The Swinerton Foundation, paired with funding from San Mateo County Parks & Recreation. As work progressed, new paint was added to the project and the missing glass was also replaced.  Labor and materials were also directly donated by Inter Mountain Electric. The original lights on the barn were long gone. Two amazingly mismatched and ugly industrial lights hung in their place on either side of the entrance. As the barn had a strong Arts and Crafts theme, the Arroyo Craftsman lighting Company was contacted and after hearing the story, performed a one week turnaround on replacement fixtures. 

This project was a first with the County of San Mateo where oversight of a significant repair of county property was performed by volunteer project management.  The contract was written, bid documents prepared, contract award, building permit applied for and received, and construction monitoring were all performed by Linda Rizzoli. 

The horses are now back in their updated digs. The bats should return after their winter torpor (hibernation). 

Hats off to Linda, Steve, Adolph, Greg, Inter Mountain Electric, Arroyo Craftsman, CHAPS, the donors, and others who donated their time and skills to preserve an important part of California history, and create a “stable” home for some very happy horses, and bats! 

Check out the Video of the repair on our website (Linda made that too).  

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