PISMO BEACH, Calif. - Tucked away in a rural corner of Pismo Beach, is piece of Pismo's past. It's the Price Historical Park, a place where visitors can embrace what life was like in the early days of this popular coastal city.
"When you step into the park, you feel like you're transported from the current day back into history," said Cynthia Brown, Friends of Price House president.
The Friends of Price House, a non-profit organization formed in 1992, has spent the past 24 years meticulously restoring and renovating the signature attraction to the park, the 123-year old Price Anniversary House.
"What's really special about it is we had a structure that was falling down and derelict and the Friends of Price House, through countless hours of volunteers, put the house back together and restored to it's glory today," said Ed Waage, Pismo Beach Mayor Pro Tem.
Nestled between Pismo Heights and Pacific Estates, near the Pismo Beach Sports Complex, the house was the home for the legendary John Price and his family.
"He founded Pismo Beach," said Brown. "He put the first motel down on the beach. He served as alcalde and was an early supervisor on the board of supervisors. The first school district in the county was created over his signature. He gave an easement to the railroad and brought in a train depot to Pismo Beach."
Long before Price created what is now Pismo Beach, the area had a rich and colorful history that is celebrated at the park as well.
"It's just a magical place," said Brown. "(Gaspar) de Portolá came through here, (Juan Bautista) de Anza came through here, Father Serra came through here, the Chumash lived in the area."
To help preserve the house, the city purchased the home and land more than 30 years ago. The Friends of Price House later took over restoration efforts to create a place where future generations could learn and experience the history of Pismo Beach.
"We've worked really hard to preserve the rural atmosphere and the city has zoned it to preserve and protect it, so that people can have that experience," said Brown. "You can walk the grounds and enjoy the ambiance, you can take a tour of the house and learn about the history of the area."
Through the years, the park has been dramatically renovated, significantly increasing availability. Brown noted due to poor road conditions, accessibility was limited to only about six months each year. Now, thanks to the newly extended Rancho Pismo Drive, which is accessed through Highland Drive, the park can be visited at any time.
"People can really get to the park better than they ever have been able to before, so it's actually it's not that mystery place out in Price Canyon that you can't go. Now it's a city park that everyone can visit," said Brown.
In addition to the new road, the park has also added several new features, including walking trails, park benches and fencing. Still, more work remains until renovations are completely finished.
"We have all-weather pathways to put through the park. We're building exhibits and we're putting in signs," said Brown, who also said restrooms and a working kitchen also be added.
With easy access, the hope is the park will become a feature attraction for the city, which already has a long list of things to see and do.
"We have a lot of tourists that come to our city and a lot of people are interested in the history of an area they visit, so this is a way of telling that history in a beautiful park setting," said Waage.
Brown says renovations to the house will be completed later this year, with improvements to the outside also on the horizon. Once finished, this park will allow future visitors a truly historical experience that's simply, priceless.
The Friends of Price House will hold a ribbon cutting on June 21 to celebrate the recent improvements and added access. The park is open to visit, with visitors encouraged to experience the park anytime. The Price House is open Monday through Friday, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
For more information, visit pricepark.org or call (805) 773-4854.