Discover the rise and fall of the FPU-owned retreat cabin
A crumbling fireplace amidst soot and rubble: this is all that remains of Casa Pacifica, as revealed in a live Facebook video posted by freelance photojournalist Alex Londos. The university-owned retreat cabin colloquially referred to as “Casa” was lost to the Creek Fire over the weekend.
According to the Casa Pacifica Executive History, Casa Pacifica had served FPU faculty, staff, and students for over thirty years. Prior to 1976, the university held summer retreats at various camps around the Central Valley, such as Hartland Camp and Barlow Ranch, but many had hopes for a university-owned retreat facility in the mountains that would be more readily available to the FPU community.
In 1976, this hope turned into reality: amidst an effort spearheaded by the National Park Service to restore the Grant Grove area to its natural state, cabins in the Wilsonia village were removed. Three FPU faculty members—Don Isaac, Dennis Langhofer, and Dalton Reimer—placed a bid on the O’Bosky cabin and secured its purchase. They tore it down with plans of using the salvaged materials to build a new cabin in the Sierras. The salvaged lumber was stored away until 1978, when an approximately five-acre parcel of land along Woodland Road, near Shaver Lake, was bought by an unspecified number of purchasers that included Dalton Reimer.
Construction of Casa Pacifica began in 1980. The cabin’s original designs were largely influenced by the original cabin, in an effort to effectively reuse the salvaged materials. Construction was completed in the summer of 1984, complete with three floors, a front two-floor porch and an exterior deck that wrapped around three sides of the building.
With the help of non-university rental fees and endowment income, Casa Pacifica was financed so that FPU faculty, staff and students could use the cabin on official university business, free of charge. In 1998, ownership of the cabin transferred from Dalton Reimer to the university. In 2003, FPU also assumed full management and maintenance responsibilities.
Casa Pacifica was used for a variety of retreats, from the International Programs and Services Office (IPSO) and transfer student weekend retreats during the academic year, to freshman, athletic and other student, staff or faculty retreats during the summer. Only a month ago, FPU had outfitted the cabin with new mattresses and couches in the hopes of eventually welcoming students, faculty and staff into a revitalized Casa Pacifica after months of being online and socially distanced. Unfortunately, FPU’s beloved Casa Pacifica was met with an unexpected and untimely catastrophe—a bitter reality that seems to pervade the entire year.
Author: Kassandra Klein | Copy Editor
Photo By: Jiru Balista