Although culture has changed dramatically since the 1800s, the Cayucos Veterans Hall stands as a testament to this seaside community’s rich maritime history. Known locally as The Historic Cass Warehouse or simply The Vet’s Hall, this time honored structure was built around 1877, alongside the nearby Wharf and Victorian-era Cass House, which is located across the street and home to a bed and breakfast. Originally built by the Cass House’s first famous resident, English seaman Captain James Cass, The Cayucos Veterans Hall represents the town’s evolution from a sleepy coastal resort destination to a hub of early California maritime commerce. Although this industrious tide has long since passed, it’s fun to imagine incoming trade vessels on the horizon while strolling along the historic Cayucos pier.
How did this transformation happen? Captain Cass, who had traveled west from New York City during the Gold Rush, saw potential for a shipping port at Cayucos Creek. In 1869, along with partners Capt. J.N. Ingalls and Frederick Metcalf, Cass built a small shipping business, stacking goods on the beach, now a local destination for seaside fun. This led to the Wharf being built in 1872. In its heyday, thousands of sacks of barley, boxes and barrels of butter, quicksilver, chickens, eggs, pelts, hides, grain and hogs were all known to pass through what is now the Cayucos Veterans Hall on their way to or from the wharf’s bustling dock.
After Cass Died in 1917, the warehouse and pier were sold to the Paso Robles Beach Company and then to the Cayucos Land and Development Company. Finally, in 1940, the building was donated to the state of California, and the structure was relocated to its current resting place at Cayucos State Beach. When walking by these days, be sure to look for the “Cayucos by the Sea” historic marker, which is affixed to the outside of the building just left of the entrance. Here you can read further into the details the story of Captain Cass, learn about Cayucos’ once thriving shipping port and understand how this history weaves into the larger story of the region and the state.
Explore Cayucos History
Cayucos Veterans Memorial Building
Currently owned by the State of California, maintained by SLO County and managed by the local Lions Club, the Cayucos Veterans Memorial Building stands as a rare example of a late 19th century wharf warehouse preserved for modern events. Aside from its significance bringing to life the county and state’s maritime cultural landscape, the structure also serves as a public venue for weddings, celebrations, meetings, barbecues, dances and fundraisers. Thanks to partnerships with the Cayucos Historical Society, Cayucos Art Association and Cayucos Lions Club, this beloved local hall has hosted generations of happy visitors.
Veterans Hall Restoration
Although the Cayucos Veterans Hall was closed in 2016 due to unsafe structural issues, some parts of the building remained accessible until July 2021, when the hall was red tagged. A robust restoration project is now underway helmed by the SLO County Public Works Department, with approximately $3.5 million needed to complete the repairs. With the generous support of local contributions, the project aims to stabilize, rehabilitate and restore the building and create a safe and usable facility for community activities. As a historic building that meets the criteria required for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources, the design for the rehabilitation will follow the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for the restoration of historic buildings. With the help of fundraising efforts, organizers aim to reopen this historic venue back to the public in 2023.
The quiet calm of Cayucos
Today, Cayucos may actually resemble its pre-port days more than its time as a bustling maritime shipping hub. Known for its laid back and breezy vibe, locals and travelers alike covet quiet moments strolling the historic pier, shopping the many antique stores located on main street or digging into incredible local delicacies, including smoked fish tacos, brown butter cookies and farm fresh fare. Whether you drop a fishing line off the pier, hop in a kayak to look for otters or forage for local seaweed among the tidepools, you’ll find Cayucos to be a calm and welcoming community some 150+ years after its maritime moment in the sun.