Portuguese Hall History
In 1928 the Colonia Portuguesa do Divino Espirito Santo (C.P.D.E.S.) held its first festa in Santa Cruz. The CPDES was organized in 1928 by a group of five Portuguese men. The first organizational meeting took place in January 1928. at Jose Silva’s place on Seabright Ave. in Santa Cruz. “Mr. Jose Silva offered the use of an outside building which was formerly a chicken house in which many meetings were held.” On April 25, 1928, the group held another meeting, to choose their officers and to adopt the name of the society, Colonia Portuguesa do Divino Espirito Santo (CPDES), and also its symbol, the crown, symbolizing the coronation of Queen Saint Isabel of Portugal with a cross on top indicating their Christian faith and a dove standing for the Holy Spirit. They decided to have the celebration on the first Saturday and Sunday of July, with a procession, mass, dance, and dinner honoring the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. The first officers were Antone J. Pinheiro, President, born in Pico Island in the Azores; John F. Silveira, vice president: Joseph C. Silva, Secretary: Manuel J. Affonso, treasurer: Joseph C. Bettencourt, marshall: Manuel Medina, Antone Pimentel, John S. Bettencourt, Manuel Avila, Frank C. Sousa, William Vasconcellos, Manuel S. Machado, Joe Leite Silva, and Lino Espinola, directors, all from Graciosa Island in the Azores.
The first celebration was held on July 1, 1928, and for many years was held on the Santa Cruz High School grounds and later at the Holy Cross Hall until the society built its own hall in 1953. The 1928 queen was Beatrice Pine who won the ticket-selling contest with 10,162 tickets and had to compete against Mary Maciel (1,657), Lucille Silva (2,329), Marie Mello (432), Eleanore Medina (382), Marie Bettencourt (7,392), and Irene Silva (432). Vivian Madruga declined to be part of the queen’s contest. The festa started on Saturday with fireworks and two dances, one with Portuguese folk songs and the other contemporary. The crown was borrowed from Watsonville. Mass was celebrated by Rev. P. J. McGrath at Holy Cross Church. The meat was roasted at the Modern Bakery. The Santa Cruz High School’s Turner Gymnasium was the site of all indoor activities. The Santa Cruz Lumber Company donated all lumber used to build the tables and benches for the noon meal. The Santa Clara SPRSI drill team took first prize in the parade in what was described as one of the largest parades ever held in Santa Cruz.
The CPDES announced that 10,000 people attended and 6,000 were served a barbecue meal during the 1929 celebration in Santa Cruz. In 1938, the “parade and festival were the most elaborate and heavily attended at the time, where members and guests of the society were served over five tons of beef in the huge barbecue, approximately 700 pounds more than the year before.” The auction netted $2,000. The queen was Lorena Cunha with side maids Adeline Castro and Frances Tassios. Lino Espinola was the chef. The Souza brothers played for the dance.
When World War II broke out, the celebrations with queens and processions were suspended in respect to the many Portuguese families who had loved ones at war, but the annual mass and meeting were continued.
In 1947, the celebration was resumed, and in the following year, things seemed back to normal according to a local newspaper, 3,900 pounds of meat and 500 long loaves of bread were served to a crowd of about 4,000 people.
In 1950, a new committee was formed for the business matters of the CPDES. The CPDES was incorporated on June 19, 1951, to “sponsor and promote an annual religious festa for the residents of Santa Cruz.” In January 1953, a two-acre piee of land, the Butler porperty, was purchased for $3,500 to build a Portuguese hall. Under the supersision of Frank Terra, Tony Sousa, and Manuel J. Sousa, the fondation for the hall was set on March 15, 1953. The July 1953 celebration was in the partially completed hall. Next, a liquor license ($8,000) and another piece of land adjacent to the property ($2,000) were purchased.
The 1959 festa included a fish dinner served to over 4,000 people prepared by volunteers including Mrs. Joe Linda, Mrs. Joaquin Borges, and Manuel J. Souza. Over 500 pounds of fish were prepared with “a special sauce.” The following year, a “traditional luncheon of sopa meat and fish” was served.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that the 1968 senior queen was Kathy Armatis who wore a cape with “21,063 pearls and more than 10,000 beads and sequins.” The senior queen’s side maids were Melvina Brown and Lenora Simoes. The junor queen was seven-year-old Melindy Brown accompanied by side maids Judy Brown and Deanna Brunmyer. The cross was carried by Jeff Armatis and the Portuguese flag was carried by Nuno Vieira. The 1968 CPDES board included Joe Alves (President), Joe English, John Allegretti, Al Marshall, Manuel Netto, Joaquin Souza, Jim Anecito, Phil Camacho, Marvin Brown, John Pacheco, Joe Mello, Gil Santos, Joe Brazil, Joe Benito, Frank Terra, Fred Machado,Manuel Oliver, and Tony Furtado. The chefs were Joe Mello, Joe Alves, and Joe Benito. The parade “formed at 9:30am on Cathcart and Pacific Ave. and proceeded up toward Holy Cross Church for 10:30am mass, celebrated by the Rev. Antonio Rodrigues.” The same edition of the newspaper announced that “President Joe Alves has secured donations of 24 beef animals for the feast. A public dance and auction also took place during the afternoon.”
Throughout the years, many improvements have been made to the hall, such as a dining area and a complete cooking facility downstairs, a small kitchen upstairs, a well-stocked bar, a crown room, and an improved parking area. The CPDES property is currently valued at over $2 million. Future improvements and upgrades are always in the works.