Willey Center to Get Backyard Upgrades

The historical Willey Cultural Center will soon be getting

Improvements include landscaping, new patio and raised stage
Gilroy – The historic Willey Cultural Center will get some much-needed back-yard improvements as part of city efforts to polish its appeal as an events venue.

Since purchasing the site in 1988, the city has rented out the home at 140 Fifth Street for anniversaries, arts and culture festivals and other events.

Residents and officials for years have complained about the site’s limited capacity due to the lack of landscaping and a patio area in the back yard.

“It’s all dirt out there now,” said Bill Headley, the city’s facilities and parks manager. He said the $166,610 bid councilmen are expected to approve Monday will cover the cost of landscaping, a new patio and a raised stage area. He predicted the upgraded facility could accommodate up to 100 guests.

The Willey (pronounce “will-e”) Cultural Center borrows its name from Judge Howard Willey, one of the city’s earliest justices of the peace, according to Gilroy Museum coordinator Lucy Solorzano. The home was originally built in 1857 for James K. Rule, who worked as a pastor next door at the Gilroy Christian Church. When Willey purchased the home from Rule’s daughter in 1893, he added bay windows and other improvements so his daughters could hold music recitals.

Perma Green Hydroseeding, of Gilroy, won the bid for the landscaping and other improvements.

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