OUR HISTORY

For more than 80 years, Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center has helped women, children, and families lead healthy, happy and productive lives. Founded as the YWCA in 1933 and renamed in 1994 to best reflect our services, Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center has called the old blue house at 303 Walnut Avenue home since 1944.

Built in 1928 by Salvator and Frances Fachutar, the couple ignored the architectural trends of the area and built 303 Walnut as a combination home and music studio. It became known as the largest music house between San Francisco and Los Angeles. They also manufactured perfume on the property to support their love of music with additional income. In 1944, Mrs. Fachutar sold the house to the Santa Cruz YWCA. The Y Women including Mrs. Fred McPherson, Edith Hinds, Mabel Byrne and Bertha Adams laid the foundation for 50 years of service to the Santa Cruz Community including “Club 303” (a night club for teens), the Gay Troubadours (the first all boys club sponsored by a YWCA), and multiple programs for women and girls of all races and cultures.

In 1994, the YWCA left the national Y organization and became the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center. The change was motivated by the desire of the board to expand services to Battered Women. In 2015, Walnut Avenue Family & Women's Center updated our name and logo to further highlight our dedication to serving entire families. Walnut Avenue has grown from a small organization with ten staff members to a thriving Family and Women’s Center with over 30 staff and 4 programs providing support and services to over 3,000 people a year.

Many of the beliefs and attitudes that spurred the Fachutars to build their own style home and spurred the women to create the Santa Cruz YWCA are still present in the house today. The landscape has changed and the issues have expanded. We no longer grow flowers for perfumes or sell music to lift the spirit. Now we “grow” children who thrive and we “sell” hope for a better tomorrow for the women, children and families we are privileged to serve. Just as Salvator Fachutar wrote in one of his compositions the spirit of the building and the individuals who make up Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center are like a “Flower that Never Withers”.