Chevron, through its affiliate Union Oil Company of California, has offered to donate the former headquarters of Union Oil Company of California to the City of Santa Paula. The donation would include buildings and a parking lot currently used by the California Oil Museum located near the corner of Main Street and 10th Street, a $2 million grant to enable the City to perform deferred maintenance and select memorabilia displayed in the museum. On Wednesday evening, the City Council authorized the City Manager to negotiate a transfer agreement, which would make the City the permanent owner of the property.
“For over 130 years, the former Union Oil Company of California headquarters has been a major historic building that not only defines the town’s aesthetics, but also serves as a cultural and economic anchor to businesses of all types in downtown Santa Paula,” said Mayor Jenny Crosswhite. “Acquiring this piece of local history will be a major win for our community, and we are looking forward to restoring operations for our residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Since 1993, Union Oil Company of California has leased its former headquarters and adjacent properties to the City of Santa Paula to operate the California Oil Museum. The City has been responsible for facility repairs and maintenance while the museum was run by the California Oil Museum Foundation, a small nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing the historical importance of the pioneering petroleum industry and its impact on the initial development of the region. However, as a result of financial hardships caused by the pandemic, the California Oil Museum Foundation closed the museum in September 2021.
As the current 15-year lease with Chevron is set to expire in June 2023, the City Council has spent the past year engaging Chevron to determine the best strategy to protect, preserve and financially support the property. In October 2022, the City Council requested to explore the opportunity to transfer ownership of the property to the City, which would expand funding opportunities to reopen the facility through federal, state and local grants as well as capital fundraising efforts.
Earlier this month, Chevron approached the City to propose a donation by Union Oil Company of California, which would include the historic headquarters building, the “Rig Building” and an adjacent parking lot, $2 million to help the City address deferred maintenance the City did not perform on the property during its tenancy and select memorabilia already displayed in the California Oil Museum. The City plans to use the generous $2 million grant from Chevron to replace the roof and HVAC system, repair water damage throughout the building and make improvements to prevent flooding.
“The historic former headquarters of Union Oil Company of California and home of the California Oil Museum is part of the heart and soul of Santa Paula,” said Jeff Moore, Chevron Public Affairs Advisor. “We’re hopeful the proposed donation to the City of Santa Paula will ensure the buildings and memorabilia will continue to benefit the Santa Paula community and visitors for many years to come.”
If the Transfer Agreement is executed in early 2023, the property transfer could be completed in summer 2023. The City will continue to be responsible for maintaining the property and will be engaging the Oil Museum Foundation and others in the future use of the building.