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History Summaries
Capitola History

Rispin Mansion, Capitola, CA
Recent Interior Photos - Vol. 1
(This page is not intended
for small screens.)

by Vaughn Aubuchon

Hey, Kids! I know that your curiosity can be
overwhelming, but you don't have to break
in anymore. Here's the inside!



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Rispin Mansion
Interior Photographs

1- Foyer

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2- Entrance Gallery

3- The Great Hall

4- Great Hall Fireplace

5- Great Hall Stairs

6- 3rd to 4th Floor Stairs

7- Kitchen Door

8- Kitchen Sink

9- Kitchen/ Dining Hall

10- Dining Hall

11- Pantry Annex

12- Basement

13 - House Drawing

For a long time, I have been hoping that someone would send me some photos of the interior of the Rispin Mansion. I feel that there are many local folks who would love to have a look inside, legally.

On Oct. 15, 2003, I got lucky. Scott Viertel, having been granted special dispensation by the Lady in Black, has been gracious enough to send me some fine photos of the Rispin Mansion interior, which he was able to obtain.

Many thanks to Scott for sharing these photos with all of us.

In addition, it has come to my attention that the former caretakers of the Rispin Mansion, while it was the "Poor Clares Retreat", have in their possession a number of fine photographs from that period ('40s and '50s).

If anyone knows how I might contact these people, please let me know.
I would love to scan the photos, and place them on the net for all to see.

If anyone else would like to offer their quality Rispin interior photos for web viewing, please give me a call.
Thank you very much.
Return to the
Rispin Mansion Main Page.




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Rispin Foyer
1. The Foyer
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really BIG Photo
Staircase leading down to the Great Hall.

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Rispin Entrance Gallery
2. Entrance Gallery
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Staircase leading up to the 3rd level.

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Rispin Great Hall
3. The Great Hall
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Imagine the view in the '20s and '30s when the trees were not there.

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Rispin Great Hall Fireplace
4. Great Hall Fireplace
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The once beautiful parquet floor can be faintly perceived.
Some idiot decided to have a campfire on it.
What a thoughtful idea!

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Rispin Great Hall Stairs
5. Great Hall Stairs descending from the foyer
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Are teen-agers inherently destructive?
Yes, Martha, some of them are.





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Rispin Stairs
6. 3rd to 4th Floor Stairs to upstairs bedrooms
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An excellent example of lath and plaster, before the invention of sheet rock.
Back when a "2 by 4" was actually 2" by 4".
And cast iron was used instead of plastic.
Everything was more substantial then, with the exception of the electrical wiring.

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Rispin Kitchen Door
7. Kitchen Door and Pantry door
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Rispin Kitchen Sink
8. Kitchen Sink - tres chic!
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really BIG Photo
It just doesn't seem up to par with the rest of the place.

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Rispin Kitchen Dining
9. Kitchen to Dining Hall doorway
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Rispin Dining Hall
10. Dining Hall
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Rispin Pantry
11. Pantry Annex doorway
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Rispin Basement
12. Basement
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The location of the "bad mojo".

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Rispin Mansion Floor Plan
Rispin Mansion Floor Plan
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Mysteries of the Rispin Mansion -
by Scott Viertel ©2003

An empty domicile which holds many secrets. That might be a fair description of the place called Rispin Mansion on Wharf Road in Capitola. You will find a story here, and a rumour there. And many legends in between. But nothing definitive of the life and times of Henry A. Rispin, or even the architect that apparently designed this icon of grandeur, the fortress that was called home sweet home through 1930 to its wealthy owner. Not many records of anything seem to exist. The aviary for doves long gone and missing its roof - did it even exist? Are there plans somewhere of the layout for this cavernous dwelling of concrete, wood, and tile?

It does seem whomever becomes associated with, or is the owner of said house, is destined to become penniless. As drawn from the short history of the two whom became just that. Not to count the Order of Poor Clares, as they take a vow of poverty in their service. Any curse associated with money may be considered null and void in that particular case. Though they seemed to last in the house for the longest period of inhabitance.

I myself have heard stories that the nuns had an altar against the door to the basement. Relative to the bad energy that dwells there perhaps? Or simply respective decoration within the walls that defined their sacred space and way of life. And as far as being vacant since the orders departure in 1952? Let us not discount Rispin's rent free tenants; the ghosts. Not the hippies and goats of the 60's. If you have a penchant to believe in that realm of ethereal existence. I say that if you see them and you feel them, then they surely are real. That is, without the aid of liquid spirits that have been consumed within the empty façade, as noted by remnant cans, bottles, and boxes.

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My personal favourite, The Lady in Black, she, the keeper of keys, and grantor of access, has allowed a certain degree of image capture of interior spaces. Nearly gutted by years of neglect and vandalism by those whom do not revere a place that once was a gem of architectural design. One can still see the tracery in resplendent craftsmanship. Who worked on this house? Is anyone left that knows the purpose of the secret rooms? Are there photos of the interior when it was decked out in its heyday? The twenties were a time of lavish indulgences for many. Was Henry involved in that sphere, or a mysterious introvert with dreams and designs for a village all his own?

One might feel the stilling chill in the basement and the scent of energy surging with one intention; to stay away, or get out! In a space so tightly secured, where exactly does such a rush of wind come from? If not from a source, then from an entity? The type of feeling that goes through you, not around. Which leaves a scent on you and not in the air. What happened and what was left behind to create such an effect? Those sensitive to various degrees of inexplicable activity would agree, something is there. To others, it's merely a fable drawn from lore passed down from no one notable. It is easy to scare oneself within the atmosphere of an old empty estate.

Though the gardens do not seem to hold what the house does, transparent figure-wise. Just faded limestone, concrete, and metal. Bricks strewn about, broken shards to one's prior symbols of affluence. A fountain and reflection pool with nothing but dust filling its void. What did this garden once hold? Who walked through it and cared for it? Did Henry have anyone to share it all with? Who could have that been? And who took the sundial from its perch?!

The old pump house stands as a sentinel astride the drive which descends to the porte cochere, beneath the main entrance to the house. It's interior and roof is folding in on itself from the ravages of time. Surely they will not be able to renovate that. But it was once part of the grand design of this estate. Part of the modern utilities available in that era.

Where are all the fixtures? The doors, casings, the railings which once guarded the gallery that looked over the Grand Hall with its massive window bay. Are these remnants gracing estates of others? And do they have bad luck for taking them? Who stood in that window and what did they think as they viewed the drop down to the creek bed below? Where were the furnishings in the house dispersed to?

Now, this place from the past may become an inn for the present. Does the house want to be used in that manner? Or continue its modest existence as a vivarium for the butterflies, wildlife, and the ivy that has embraced it as their own.

Multitudinous questions to be asked, without any answers to be given. This place holds many a daydream in the heart of locals, and to those who happen by chance to become a visitor of the place called Rispin Mansion.

- Scott Viertel



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Tags: Henry Allen Rispin - Robert Hayes Smith -
Oblates of St. Joseph -
Order of Poor Clares - Poor Clares convent - Poor Clairs retreat -
California haunted house -
Capitola Historic Mansion - Rispin Estate - Capitola prohibition




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This Henry Rispin Mansion Interior Photos
web page was last updated on 2018-06-14.