Historic Serra Cross Park

Ventura, California
"The invitation is to explore and drink in the natural beauty and cultural heritage." Leland Walmsley
primary project photo
Historic Serra Cross Park - Ventura, California

Historic Serra Cross Park

Ventura, California
"The invitation is to explore and drink in the natural beauty and cultural heritage." Leland Walmsley

This private commission benefiting the City of Ventura takes inspiration from the historic importance of Serra Cross. Dating back to 1782, the cross is the original identifying landmark for San Buenaventura mission, providing a beacon for travelers from both land and sea.

We emphasized the potential for a timeless cultural destination that was educational, inspirational and a breath-taking wedding location. Designing with the views and various uses in mind, we created a graceful curving path, drawing visitors through a series of outdoor “galleries” featuring the stunning vistas of this amazing piece of the California coastline and beyond.

Now there is a dramatic entrance along a broad arching staircase (perfect for adorned brides and grooms), open spaces for educational and entertainment purposes, and an olive grove that provides ample shade on sun-drenched days.

Gravel pathways now connect seamlessly to the more extensive network of local hiking trails.

This once tired and neglected hilltop is now the polished 1 acre jewel featured atop Grant Park’s crown, surrounded by 107 acres of unspoiled landscape.

Sustainability Highlights
  • Tree canopy over promenade and parking reduces “heat island effect” and reduces the average ambient temperature
  • The driveway approach beneath a canopy of oaks now culminates to a circular auto court and grand reveal of the Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands and naturalistic tree framed views of the majestic peaks of Topa Topa above the Ojai valley and continues all the way to the Santa Monica Mountain range. This new auto court draws from architectural cues of the early Spanish mission and the series of historic stone aqueducts. A graceful arrangement of large spreading olive trees provides visitors ample shade from the hot afternoon sun.
  • Permeable parking surface and walkways allows for water table recharge and reduces potential for downhill flooding
  • New naturalistic bioswales allow for capture of stormwater and enhance groundwater recharge
  • Bioswales filter stormwater runoff during seasonal rains, mitigating pollutants before they reach the ocean.
  • Thirsty and polluting lawn replaced with low-water, low-allergen, low-maintenance buffalo grass.
  • Removal of exotic (non-native) invasive plants
  • Removal of hazardous fire-prone plants
  • Revegetated with native and Mediterranean plant palette known for erosion control properties & low water needs
  • Temporary drip irrigation to establish native plants
  • Use of non-PVC irrigation pipe that is made of 100% recycled and recyclable content (PVC is not recyclable and is a top 5 carcinogen)
  • Low-energy LED Safety lighting
  • ADA compliant
  • Numerous educational opportunities to demonstrate sustainable methods and materials -- an outdoor classroom
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