Business / Economy

Monterey-San Benito counties have a big, red disagreement

County supes side with business owners, name new road "Red Barn Road," opposing Monterey County's request

The improvements being made to Highway 101 at San Juan Road near the Big Red Barn have created a new interchange and connecting roadways that need to be named. While it might seem a formality, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors and their counterparts in Monterey County differ on what one frontage road should be named.

Local supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to name a section of roadway that begins in San Benito County "Red Barn Road," whereas the Monterey County Public Works Department submitted to Caltrans "Harry Ellingwood  Road" for the section that falls within that county. The Monterey County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to San Benito County asking that their suggestion be adopted here, but officials here said "Red Barn Road" is more appropriate.

Joseph Horwedel, San Benito County's public works administrator, said including "Red Barn" in the roadway's name "is an appropriate means of recognizing the cultural history of how people recognize that building and what it means to the area. He said the "Ellingwood" name "really has no connection to the public and what's occurring at that location. It really would be lost to the rest of the world."

Monterey favored the Ellingwood name "in keeping with our tradition of naming roads after prominent individuals and families in local history who have made important contributions to our community," Monterey County Supervisor Lou Calcagno wrote in a letter to Supervisor Jerry Muenzer and the rest of the board. The letter noted that the Red Barn was built in 1945 by Kaiser Aluminum for Ellingwood Hay Company. "I feel strongly that the contributions made by Harry Ellingwood to the history of both of our counties should be memorialized in naming the frontage road. With all due respect, I urge you to rescind your support for naming the frontage road 'Red Barn Road' and join me and your neighbors in Monterey County by supporting 'Harry Ellingwood Road' as the official name of the new frontage road.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho, who represents the district where the frontage road was built, said the Red Barn's current owners asked him to endorse that as the name of the road and he said he gave his word that he would do so.

The interchange project "is a tremendous improvement for the 101 and San Juan Road as well as Cole Road as far as safety in that area," Botelho said. "Most importantly, we're pleased it's done for the most part."

He said the "Red Barn Road" name is a "common sense approach" because the large flea market is the major landmark along 101 near the county border.

Horwedel, asked by supervisors whether the frontage road potentially would have two names — one for the San Benito County section and one for the Monterey County section — said "staff would hope not. My goal is that there is one name and not a change at the county boundary."

Manuel Delgadillo, vice president of Stagecoach Territory Inc. of Aromas, which owns the Red Barn, said Ellingwood's daughter, Fran, bought the property from him in 1967 and painted it red against the wishes of Monterey County officials. He noted that in 2010 she petitioned the county's historical resource board to deem the structure a historical landmark.

"It's a big, red building we've all come to recognize," Delgadillo told supervisors during the comment portion of the public hearing to name the road. "I think it's only fair we have it named 'Red Barn Road.'" He also told the board that the two surviving heirs of Ellingwood prefer the road bear the Red Barn name rather than the family name.


Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.