Division of Juvenile Justice, Unlocking History

1954 Paso Robles youth facility time capsule opened

Paso Robles facility time capsule contents show newspapers, photos and booklets.
Contents of the 1954 time capsule at Paso de Robles Youth Correctional Facility.

PASO ROBLES – The first youths arrived at Paso de Robles Youth Correctional Facility on Sept. 30, 1947. The facility previously served as a 200-acre Army airfield. It was purchased by the state for $8,000 and run by the former California Youth Authority. In 1954, a time capsule was put into the Administration Building.

The Oct. 14 opening of the time capsule was attended by former Paso Robles employees and state officials. The capsule revealed a cache of items reflecting the 1950s era.

Peeking inside the Paso Robles facility time capsule

Inside the capsule were:

  • several photographs of the facility
  • small Bible
  • program from the Sept. 27, 1947, dedication
  • 1948-1952 California Youth Authority progress report
  • official dedication from Jan. 29, 1954, featuring the name of Gov. Goodwin J. Knight
  • issues of the Jan. 28 and Jan. 29, 1954, Paso Robles Press
  • sheet music titled “Night Flight,” a march by K.L. King
  • and several business cards from elected officials and other members of the community.

Paso de Robles Youth Correctional Facility had a long history before it was deactivated in 2008, serving as a youth conservation camp in partnership with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and providing educational programs to countless youth over the decades.

Majestic Realty, a privately-held development company headquartered in Southern California, recently won the bid to purchase the property currently in escrow, expected to close by the end of the year.

Decades of service

“The uniqueness of the opening of the time capsule that was placed in the Administration Building at Paso Robles School in 1954 will bring the institution’s opening, expansion, closure and impending sale full circle,” said David Bacigalupo, who was the Superintendent at the former facility for 10 years.

Heather Bowlds, Director of the Division of Juvenile Justice (formerly known as the California Youth Authority), knows how historically significant this is.

“As the State prepares to realign juvenile justice to the counties, time capsules such as the one at Paso Robles (need to) be retrieved and preserved. (They serve) as a testament to the decades’ long efforts of California to treat and rehabilitate our youth,” said Bowlds.

The Department of General Services has oversight of the property currently still owned by the State, but CDCR maintains responsibility for it until it is sold.

“The city of Paso Robles, the thousands of dedicated former California Youth Authority and current DJJ employees, CAL FIRE, Los Robles Camp staff and wards, education and faith based volunteers, and our myriad of mutual-aid partners can feel very proud in knowing they were instrumental in providing a positive change in the lives of the young men who were housed at this institution,” Bacigalupo said.

Learn more about California prison history.

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