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Company offers South Coast community a huge present: One of the oldest buildings in Ventura County

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The City of Santa Paula may get ownership of the historic Union Oil building in the city. It's one of the oldest buildings in Ventura County.

Chevron offers to give the historic 130 year old plus Union Oil Headquarters building to the City of Santa Paula, along with $2 million for needed repairs.

It’s one of Ventura County’s oldest, and most historic buildings.

Now, the oil company which owns it is offering to give it to the community, along with funding to help make some much needed repairs.

"This building is special in part just because of its heritage that it represents in Santa Paula," said Jeff Moore, who is with Chevron.

It's a beautiful, two-story Queen Anne style building in downtown Santa Paula.

"The building was the headquarters of Union Oil Company of California from the company's founding in 1890, until about 1901," said Moore.

The company then moved its headquarters to Los Angeles.

Chevron, through its affiliate, Union Oil Company of California is offering to donate the building to the City of Santa Paula, along with $2 million for some badly needed, but pricey deferred maintenance the city couldn't afford.

The City of Santa Paula currently is nearing the end of a 15-year lease for the historic structure. The building, which was built in the late 1800's, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a California Historical landmark. It was home for the California Oil Museum, but the museum ran out of money during the pandemic and had to close. The city was also responsible for maintenance, but didn’t have the money needed for major repairs. City officials say the offer is a huge present.

"I think we're all still pinching ourselves a little but that this is a possibility," said Santa Paula Mayor Jenny Crosswhite.

She says the building is an iconic part of the community.

"By owning it...it give us a lot more options in terms of fundraising, and seeking grants for long-term maintenance and things," said Crosswhite.

Santa Paula’s current lease runs out in June, so what’s next is officials with the oil company, and the city need to sit down and finalize a transfer agreement.

Crosswhite said if the city gets the building, they'll have community meetings to look at the long-range plans for it.

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California Oil Museum
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The Union Oil building in Santa Paula is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a California Historical Landmark.

"The building is part of the heart, and soul of Santa Paula, so we're hoping this donation will put the building in the hands of the city," said Moore.

The offer includes the headquarters, what’s known as the “Rig" building and a parking lot. This week, the City Council authorized the City Manager to authorize a transfer agreement. If the deal happens as expected, the city could get the property next summer.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.