Agnews State Hospital PageLogo

Agnews State Hospital

aka Agnews Developmental Center, Sun Microsystems Santa Clara Campus (World Headquarters)
Architect for State Hospital, first construction: Jacob Lenzen

Santa Clara, California

On April 18, 1906, the original Kirkbride-like building of "Agnews Asylum" was badly damaged in the great San Francisco Earthquake. Please see this page [external link] to see some photos. More than 100 patients died in this catastrophe.

Established 1885-1889, partially demolished in the late 1990s, currently partially preserved and in use.

The California architect Jacob Lenzen also designed the Hotel Vendrome in San Jose (completed in 1889, since demolished), Paso de Robles Hotel, Paso de Robles (opened in 1891), San Jose City Hall (1887-1958), the Letitia Building in San Jose (1891 -) and the Carnegie Library in Salinas (1909-1961),

From a press release from Sun Microsystems on 08/23/2000:

"Sun Microsystems Inc. today announced the opening of its newest campus in Santa Clara. The campus will serve as the worldwide headquarters, offering employees the latest in innovative technology and amenities, while essentially becoming the center of Sun's world for meeting and exchanging ideas. Sun's new facility combines preservation carefully balanced with innovative technology.

.....

The campus was designed around the historic Agnews Park integrating renovated and preserved landmarks with modern technology and equipment. Sun is making some of its facilities open to the community, far surpassing what was previously available."

Click on the thumbnail pictures below to view Howard Partridge's recent photography of the buildings:

Angews State Hospital, Sun HQ Tower by Howard PartridgeAngews State Hospital, Sun HQ Tower by Howard PartridgeAngews State Hospital, Sun HQ by Howard PartridgeAngews State Hospital, Sun HQ by Howard PartridgeAngews State Hospital, Sun HQ by Howard PartridgeAngews State Hospital, Sun HQ by Howard Partridge

Editor's Note: The following material was originally on the "Save Agnews" web page, and is presented here so that the information remains as an example of of a historic preservation effort from the mid 1990s.It is presented "as is" except for this noteand the "back" button at the bottom. The information, including all contact information, is years out of date, and much of it is invalid at this time (including e-mail contact and the list of representatives).

Help Save Historical Agnews


What's Happening
Corporate Welfare
Historical Registration
Environmental Impact Report
Agnews Preservation Coalition
Send E-Mail
About Agnews
Community Use for Agnews
What Santa Clara Can Do
What The State Can Do
The Left Overs
What You Can Do

What's Happening

The State of California has declared the Historical District of the Agnews State Hospital as surplus property and is selling it off to Sun Microsystems.

The proper procedures for the disposition of surplus properties have not been followed by the State. These procedures are in place to safeguard the public interest, and to prevent the squandering of public assets.

Sun Microsystems is planning to raze the historical district of Agnews except for two and part of two other buildings. More than sixty historically significant, architecturally beautiful, and structurally sound buildings will be destroyed. California will lose a significant part of its history when this happens.


There is much more to Agnews than just some historical artifacts. Agnews is a whole Historical District, as desrcibed by the National Register of Historic Places.
The Agnews Campus ranks with San Francisco's Golden Gate park and Presisio, with New York's Central Park, and America's Ellis Island, in terms of historical significance.
Agnews has been associated with the less fortunate in our country, and so is less well known than Ellis Island. Where Ellis Island represents America's heart as it welcomed immigrants to their pursuit of happiness in a new land, so Agnews represents America's heart as it strives to provide happiness to the lives of the less fortunate amongs us.
Agnews is every bit as important as Ellis Island as a national historical artifact, and deserves all our support to save it from the wrecking ball.


Editor's Note: This material was originally on the "Save Agnews" web page, and is presented here so that the information remains as an example of of a historic preservation effort from the mid 1990s.It is presented "as is" except for these red notes, font reduction,and the "back" button at the bottom. The information, including all contact information, is years out of date, and much of it is invalid at this time (including e-mail contact and the list of representatives).

Corporate Welfare

The deal between the State of California and Sun Microsystems is an excellent example of "Corporate Welfare". It will be shown as an example in the "Market Place" program on channel 7 on Sunday morning June 1, 1997. Corporte welfare is the subsidy of corporate business by the public.

The Governor of California and the chairman and CEO of Sun Microsystems are apparently long time school friends. There is nothing wrong with that. We all need friends. We function better when we can work with friends. We are all better off that way.

However, when friendship becomes political - and financial - favoritism, then it is wrong.

Sun will receive the 80+ acre core of Agnews for less than $51 million - the State refused to disclose the exact number, but it acknowledged it was less than 51 million. That makes the price Sun would pay slightly under $600,000 per acre.

Paramount, the parent company of the Great America entertainment park very close by, also in the "Golden Triangle", very recently purchased some land for their park. They paid very close to $1,400,000 per acre. That is 2.3 times as much. In other words, if Sun were paying the going rate, they would have to pay approximately $120 million.

Who do you think is paying that tidy sum of $70 million that Sun isn't paying? Well, it is you and me, buddy, it is us tax payers. Don't kid yourself.

Hey, listen to this! I've got a great idea, let's you and me get together, offer the State $60 million for Agnews. That outbids Sun, and then we can sell it for $120 million on the open market, we'll make $60 million in quick bucks, and we'll split it between us. Well, what do you say, pal?

Of course I'm not serious. The State would never sell Agnews to you and me for $60 million, because we are not properly connected. We're not big business.

Another interesting thing is that Sun was a major (if not the largest nationally) campaign contributor to the Dole campaign. Nothing wrong with that. The Governor was the Dole campaign manager in California. Nothing wrong with that either. Silicon Valley is strongly pro Clinton, so there is nothing wrong with somebody standing up for the Dole side of things. Actually, I'm sort of proud of Sun to have stepped up to the plate.

What is wrong, is when this patriotic action results in favoritism. We all are very troubled by the Agnews situation having the appearance of a deal between Sun and the State.

What is more troubling is that legislators in Sacramento acknowledge that, as far as they are concerned, the Sun-Agnews matter is a done deal.

Let me assure you, that it is not. If you and your friends, if all of us together, if we as citizens make it patently clear that we want the disposition of Agnews to be conducted in a legal and straight forward manner, then the present deal will fail, and a proper and legal process will commence.

Editor's Note: This material was originally on the "Save Agnews" web page, and is presented here so that the information remains as an example of of a historic preservation effort from the mid 1990s.It is presented "as is" except for these red notes, font reduction,and the "back" button at the bottom. The information, including all contact information, is years out of date, and much of it is invalid at this time (including e-mail contact and the list of representatives).

We don't condone Corporate Welfare


Historical Preservation

At their May 29, 1997 quarterly meeting, the California State Historical Preservation Office voted to support the nomination of the West Agnews Campus to the National Register of Historc Places. This is an important step towards the preservation of Agnews, because the State of California is now officially on record as recognizing the historical importance of the entire West Agnews Campus, and has not merely singled out an arbitrary select few of the more than 100 buildings. SHPO should be lauded for their action. The next step is to include Agnews in the National Register.

Mere recognition of Agnews as historic does not by any means guarantee its survival. It does make it illegal for the government, while it own it, to let it get run down, and then destroy it. Enforcing this would prove difficult. It also does not prevent a future owner - Sun Microsystems - from destroying it.

It was very encouraging that the Santa Clara Commission of Historical Landmarks voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council that the nomination to SHPO be supported, and that then the Santa Clara City Council voted unanimously to support the nomination to SHPO. During that Council hearing one of the council members asked and was assured by staff that historical designation would in no way protect Agnews from Sun's wrecking ball, nor that the name Agnews was to be preserved. But in the end, even this council member voted in favor of historical registration.

What the historical registration has achieved is a formal recognition by the government of Agnews' historical significance. This does require some additional formal scrutiny to be applied prior to its destruction by Sun Microsystems.

We must continue to work hard to preserve this beautiful site for community use.

If we let these 300 historical acres in the middle of residential areas get bulldozed and converted to high tech office space, we will have to explain to our grandchildred why we didn't care enough to save the open space and cultural facilities for them.

Editor's Note: This material was originally on the "Save Agnews" web page, and is presented here so that the information remains as an example of of a historic preservation effort from the mid 1990s.It is presented "as is" except for these red notes, font reduction,and the "back" button at the bottom. The information, including all contact information, is years out of date, and much of it is invalid at this time (including e-mail contact and the list of representatives).

Draft Environmental Impact Report

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIR) was issued on May 5, 1997, and made available for purchase. There is a 45 day time within which the public can respond to this item. How these 45 days are counted is not clear, June 7, 1997 has been heard as a cutoff date, and we have asked for clarification.

The Draft EIR is the document which contains information on how the changed use of Agnews will affect the environment, and supposedly quality of life of those who live in this environment. All items NOT included in the Draft EIR will NOT be considered in the EIR. It is extremely important that any citizen input to the Draft EIR is included in the EIR.

If you have any concern over the Agnews issue which you would like addressed by the EIR, you MUST see to it that your issue is included in the Draft EIR.

Contact the Santa Clara City Planning Office BEFORE June 7, 1997 to have your item included in the Draft EIR so that it will be considered in the EIR.

This EIR is a very important document, because only the items covered by the EIR need be considered by the city government in its decisions for Agnews. Even if they are wrong, or superficial. It is up to you to assure that the legislative process will include your issues in the EIR.

Scanning over the Draft EIR quickly shows some glaring omissions and misrepresentation. It is important that we all read this document, and demand its correction before the final EIR issues.


Agnews Preservation Coalition

The Agnews Preservation Coalition (APC) is a group of concerned citizens, who strive to preserve Agnews for Community use. It was formally organized with officers and bylaws on Thursday May 29, 1997.

APC came about from individuals bumping into each other an various Agnews related matters. These individuals had very different reasons for being involved in the Agnews matter, but all had the preservation of Agnews as part of their reasons for being involved. From these informal discussions developed a casually organized group. These individuals recognized that by joining together, they would be stronger in achieving their common goal of preserving Agnews for Community use.

And so the Agnews Preservation Coalition was formed.

There are now regular action meetings scheduled for Thursday evenings, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Anyone with the preservation of Historical Agnews at heart, and who is willing to do some hard work, is welcome to attend.

Send E-Mail To:

jaclewis@pacbell.net


About Agnews

The Agnews State Hospital dates back to 1885. The fully functioning time piece in the Clock Tower is still the original Seth Thomas time piece installed in the original Clock Tower when it was built in 1888. During the quake of '06 Agnews suffered badly. The single greatest loss of life - as a direct result of the '06 tremor - occurred at Agnews. It was when the Clock Tower and Main Treatment Building collapsed, crushing 112 residents and staff under a pile of rubble. A cemetery was created where the victims were buried in a mass grave.

Agnews was rebuilt with the then relatively new technique of inserting iron bars as strengthening when pouring concrete. Agnews was one of the early large scale applications of this technique, which we now commonly know as reinforced concrete.

During the Loma Prieta quake Agnews suffered no damage. Actually, inspectors found one crack in one building. They are still trying to decide whether that crack was caused by the quake, or whether it was already there. Considering that there are more than one hundred buildings at Agnews, that is quite a testamonial to the quality of the structures of Agnews almost a century later.

The landscaping at Agnews is a horticultural delight. Trees were brought in from all corners of the world. This is apparent when one enters the Agnews Campus from Lafayette Street by turning into Palm Drive. One passes the Governor's Mansion with its rose lined carriage drive, and stops at the first cross road, facing the Clock Tower. The Ballroom with its full production stage, dual 35 mm carbon arc movie projectors, and superb acoustics is on the right. Between you and the clock tower is a grassy area sprinkled with trees, the likes of which you have never seen gathered before. For example, on the right is a beautiful example of the original 'jungle gym' tree. This is a South African tree, it is beautiful, and different from anything you have ever seen. Then there is the orange tree, which provides you with oranges like you will - unfortunately - never find in the supermarket.


Community Use For Agnews

There is a conspicuous lack of public and cultural facilities in the area around Agnews. There is a great need for such facilities. This fact. although well recognized, is not materially addressed.

Around 1950 Agnews was a community of some five thousand residents and staff. These facilities are very well suited for community use. Agnews can be used for many community services, including Housing, Cultural Center, Performing Arts Center, Public Park, Office Space, Community Shopping Center, Library, College/School, and many more activities which the general public can envision.

The Agnews facilities are expasnive, and under proper management can become a self supporting and self sufficient economic unit. This is not 'pie in the sky'. This is for real.


What Santa Clara Can Do

Through its zoning authority the City of Santa Clara can save the histirical structures, including the Ballroom. Please write the Mayor and Council members of Santa Clara to let them know your wishes.

The Mayor of Santa Clara
The City Council of Santa Clara
1500 Warburton Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050


What The State Can Do

Our elected representatives in the legislature of the State of California need to represent our interest; the public interest.

Our Representatives Must Follow The Law

State law relating to the disposition of surplus State property was established to safeguard the public interest, and to prevent the squandering of public assets. Right now we are losing a major public asset.

The Governor and the legislature can stop the current boondogle, and proceed with the proper process of disposition of surplus property.

This requires the consideration of all uses, including public uses. It requires following the law, and not making a back room agreement with one of the largest political contributors in the country, pre-determining the sale of Agnews, and then going through some shameful act of 'public availability'.


What Will Be Left Over After Sun Gets Its Way?

If Sun get its way, Agnews will basically be razed, and another high tech office complex will be built in its place.

Sun could also build their office complex on adjacent vacant land. It wouldn't cost Sun any more to do that. Sun would still have its office complex, and the Citizens of California would still have Agnews. Sounds like a win-win solution, doesn't it?

Sun is buying Historical Agnews for less than one million dollars per acre. This is considerably less than any other land in the area. We, the tax payers, aren't even getting full value.

The State is putting this money in the general fund. It will be gone and, undoubtedly, bureaucratically squandered. The State is considering returning half of the proceeds to a housing fund, and legislation to this affect may be introduced. However, the amount being returned into a housing fund will not begin to replace the value of the public asset which Sun will destroy.

When the Sun deal goes through, the public will be left holding the bag.


What You Can Do

You, We, we all must tell our elected representatives what we want. What we want them to do with OUR assets.

It is very important that the Santa Clara City Council can see that there is a great deal of public interest and concern about Agnews. Contact them. Contact the Mayor and the City Council at:

1500 Warburton Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050

Every Tuesday evening at 7:00 pm there is a City Council meeting. These meetings are public. Towards the end of these meetings is an agenda item which permits any citizen to speak to the council. You, your friends, anybody, can address these Council meetings. You can voice your concerns to the Mayor and City Council of Santa Clara. You can be a voice every Tuesday evening for the preservation of Agnews for the Citizens of California.

The City of Santa Clara has a mailing list for persons interested in the Agnews issue. Ask to be added to the mailing list. You will be informed of upcoming Council meetings which specifically address Agnews issues.

Stand up, and be heard. Your Voice Does Count.

An overflow crowd of concerned Citizens at Council meetings is very peruasive to the elected representatives of Santa Clara. Do your part.
The Council is trying very hard to do what is right, but it is up to you and me, as citizens, to let them know what is right.

Santa Clara City Council Meeting
Every Tuesday Evening at 7:00 pm
The Council Meeting Hall
1500 Warburton Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050


There are also our State and Federal elected Representatives. These also need to be contacted. They too need to know your wishes.

State Representatives:

Rep. John Vasconcellos
6026 Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Rep. Dominic L. Cortese
6031 Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Rep. Jim Cunneen
4009 Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Sen. Tom Campbel
4032 Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Sen. Alfred E. Alquist
5100 Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Sen. Henry J. Mello
313 Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814


Federal Representatives:

Sen. Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
331 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Rep. Anna Eshoo
308 Cannon House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515

Rep. Tom Lantos
2217 Rayburton House
Washington, DC 20515

Rep. Norman Mineta
2221 Rayburton House
Washington, DC 20515

Rep. Zoe Lofgren
118 Cannon House Office
Washington, DC 20515



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