CSU Monterey Bay and National Steinbeck Center Consider Joint Venture in Downtown Salinas, California

Image of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California
Image of Colleen Bailey, executive director of the National Steinbeck CenterColleen Bailey, executive director of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, reports encouraging new developments for the institution, located at One Main Street, a few blocks from where John Steinbeck lived as a boy. In addition to housing a major Steinbeck archive, the Center features interactive exhibits and rotating exhibitions and sponsors the annual International Steinbeck Festival. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization, it operates on grants, gifts, and donated services from individuals, foundations, and other sources. Since opening in 1998, its capacious building has attracted international attention and traffic to Salinas, the largest city in Monterey County.

CSU Monterey Bay in Downtown Salinas, California?

CSU Monterey Bay—part of the California State University system—wants to extend its services eastward to Salinas, located less than a half-hour drive inland from CSU Monterey Bay’s main campus. Created in the mid-1990s during the period in which the National Steinbeck Center was being planned and built, CSU Monterey Bay occupies land in Seaside, California, formerly used by Fort Ord. It offers 23 undergraduate and seven graduate majors to 5,700 students, 37 percent of whom live in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties.

Under the proposed partnership, CSU Monterey Bay would own the National Steinbeck Center building and the Center would continue to operate at the location. Since 1902-1919, Steinbeck’s time growing up in Salinas, the city has become a majority Mexican-American community known primarily as an agricultural packaging and distribution center. The new corporate headquarters of Taylor Farms—an international distributor of foods, such as lettuce, grown in the Salinas Valley—is nearing completion on Main Street Center next to the Center.

According to Colleen Bailey, negotiations between various Salinas, California, Monterey County, and CSU Monterey Bay governing entities are progressing. At the time of this report, she anticipated discussion of the proposed partnership by the City Council—which also acts as the Salinas, California Redevelopment Agency—as early as next week. She notes that 13 local taxing authorities could benefit from repayment of the Center’s debt to the Salinas, California RDA.

The Red Pony, Bombs Away, and The Wayward Bus

The National Steinbeck Center serves as the custodian of an extensive collection of Steinbeck manuscripts, recordings, and objects acquired through donations to the Salinas, California Public Library that began before Steinbeck died. The collection’s scope, quality, and accessibility to researchers using the Center’s facilities have made it an international resource for Steinbeck scholars who can be found working in Salinas on books and articles about the author at almost any time. Three recent additions reported by Colleen Bailey demonstrate the archive’s extraordinary depth and diversity:

1.        Bombs Away:  The Story of a Bomber Team, Books Digest No. 5 (1942) (21 pages);
2.       The Wayward Bus, final shooting script, Twentieth Century Fox (1956) (122 pages);
3.       The Red Pony, cutting continuity script, Republic Pictures Corporation (85 pages).

For more information about the archive and the 2105 Steinbeck Festival, visit the National Steinbeck Center website.


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  1. It’s nice to see CSUMB spread out towards Salinas! We are excited to hear the good news that is coming to downtown. Keep up the good work!

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