After more than a half a century of being closed, a group of volunteers is working to restore and reopen the Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs.
The volunteers are a part of the Gilroy Hot Springs Conservancy led by President Lucie Vogel.
The money the Gilroy Hot Springs Conservancy raises will be put toward restoring the cabins, establishing camping sites, and installing soaking tubs for the natural hot springs. These natural hot springs, located east of Gilroy at Henry W. Coe State Park, are the only ones in the Bay Area and are said to have healing powers.
“Our goal is to fill a critical fundraising gap to get the money to restore the Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs back to its usable state,” Vogel said.
The Conservancy estimates it will need $90,000 for the first phase of restoration work.
The land for the hot springs was originally purchased in 1866 by George Roop and William Olden. They worked to turn it into a resort for wealthy San Franciscans to hunt, fish and bathe in the healing hot springs.
In the 1930s the resort was purchased by Kyuzaburo Sakata, a Japanese farmer. He used the land to create a place for Japanese families to go when they were released from internment camps post-World War II.
The land was closed to the public in the late 1960s. A group of volunteers, including long-time volunteer Laura Dominguez-Yon, have maintained the Gilroy Hot Springs for the past 20 years.
Dominguez-Yon’s parents came to the resort in September 1945 with her brother and sister. They arrived at midnight on a Greyhound bus from Arizona. She spent the first three years of her life living there.
“We have a group of volunteers who are specifically interested in historic preservation, so as we’re working on it, they’re learning how to do historic preservation and how not to do it,” Dominguez-Yon said.
The California State Parks has granted the Gilroy Hot Springs Conservancy permission to re-open the site after restorations are made to some of the structures. The Texas and Minnesota cabins are almost completely restored to their former state.
“The Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs has so much to offer the Gilroy community,” Vogel said. “It is a historical treasure and there are so many people with roots in Gilroy who are connected to that place. We want to preserve that connection.”
The grand opening of the Hot Springs is Oct. 9. The opening will include a historical tour, wine tasting and lunch. Guided tours of the site will begin in September.
To learn more about the Gilroy Hot Springs Conservancy or to donate to the cause, visit the Gilroy Hot Springs Conservancy website at gilroyhotspringsconservancy.org/info.