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Chico State

Living in Historic Home Gives New Meaning to Residential Campus

President Steve Perez and his wife, Tanya, walk their two dogs through the Catastic carnival.

On a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, my wife, Tanya, and I returned from a downtown coffee shop to the Albert E. Warrens Center—the home we’d moved into less than 24 hours earlier—to discover our dogs, Pauley and Sandy, were nowhere to be found. Frantically searching the yard, we were stunned to discover they had learned to open the back gate. Thankfully, the dynamic duo didn’t go far. We found them splashing in Big Chico Creek, covered in burrs and having the time of their lives.

While not the start to our on-campus lives we imagined, it at least had a happy conclusion, and I’m thankful my first message as a new tenant was not to request that the campus be on the lookout for Pauley and Sandy.

I’m also incredibly grateful for the opportunity to live in this beautiful home. This house has a storied past, dating back more than 100 years. It was designed by Julia Morgan, the first female licensed architect in California, and originally built for a Chico physician named Daniel H. Moulton and his family. It was purchased by the state in 1945 for $25,750. It subsequently served as the home of Chico State presidents from the 1940s through 1993, when Robin Wilson was the last president to occupy the house.

Tanya and I are thrilled to revive the tradition and give our “residential campus” a whole new meaning.

The Warrens Center is viewed from the backyard, where a brick courtyard was installed for outdoor entertaining.
Unoccupied for decades, the Albert E. Warrens Reception Center underwent a comprehensive remodeling project in 2017 that restored many of its original features and returned the exterior paint color to a shade commonly used on other Julia Morgan homes. (Jessica Bartlett / University Photographer)

We’ve been walking through campus almost nightly to visit events like the Catastic Carnival and to stop by the glassblowing studio and observe demonstrations. We’ve met a few of the 1,700 students in the residence halls who have been great (and surprisingly quiet!) neighbors.

We’ve met faculty members who live in the Mansion Park neighborhood, strolled campus with the University Communications social media team handing out Taylor Swift-inspired friendship bracelets, and we plan on joining the crowd on the Glenn Hall lawn soon for upcoming outdoor movies. Tanya and I intend to take advantage of all that University life offers, and we hope you will join us.

My early instincts that Chico State is a special place continue to be affirmed on the daily. We are a community of people who care about each other. We enjoy each other’s company, face our challenges together, and jointly celebrate our successes. In fact, one of the reasons we want to live on campus is to use the home as it was intended—to host our colleagues, donors, friends, and neighbors at University events.

With that in mind, I’m excited to invite the campus community to an open house on Monday, September 18, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. We will have light refreshments and welcome you to this historic home that has been a part of campus life for more than a century.

And, don’t worry, the dogs will be safely upstairs so you don’t need to be concerned about leaving the gate open. I hope to see you there!