Because the House of the Dove is located in a with other homes on Hillcrest Ave. many people do not realize that the property is over a half acre. The meditation gardens and buildings date to 1956. Many of the old barns were remodeled over the years
The winding paths of the property are all named. St. Francis Path, Mission Path, Williams Path, Deacon’s Path, Nan’s Path, Wind chime Path, Dwarves Path, Doves Landing Path, Paradise Path & Trinity Path.
St. Francis Waterfall was designed by Deacon Dave. It is located off St. Francis Path and was built the deacon and by David Graber who at the time was a teenager. This Waterfall was the very first to be built. It flows into a 70 foot long running creek that ends in Toads Pond where there is a natural turtle reserve with 3 varieties of turtles, box tortoise & Koi Carp Fish. Inside the Waterfall is the Forbidden Cave. The fall pumps 100 gals a minute. The winding St. Francis Creek has three bridges that cross over it: The Old Covered Bridge, Dwarves Bridge & St. Francis Bridge.
The Portuguese Falls is the smallest of the large type falls. It too falls into the St. Francis Creek. The Lost Portuguese Mine is in the side of the falls. Cresta Blanca Falls in the Front yard is the largest of the falls. Deacon Dave and Joey Vargas a teenager at the time and a few other teens built the double falls. 33 ton of cement was utilized in building the falls. A full length Wine Cave is on the inside of the massive falls. 200 gals a minute fall into another man made creek. Proposal Bridge crosses over the creek. The Bridge was so named because there have been so many wedding proposals on the bridge during the Christmas Season under the Thousands of lights. Cresta Blanca is named after the Old Cresta Blanca Winery, now Wente Sparkling Wine Cellars located on Arroyo Road. Because the double falls have three small holding ponds on top, the wine stored in the Wine Cave is kept cool in the summer months. The walls of the Wine Cave are 2 feet thick in places.
The 6 fountains located throughout the gardens add to the relaxing atmosphere. Statuary in the nooks of the gardens enhances meditation. The Madonna and Child is one of the largest pieces. On the whimsical side of things, Snow White and the seven dwarves can be found along Dwarves Path.
The Whistle Stop Building (once a barn) now houses Deacon Dave’s HO Model Railroad. Deacon builds the scenery and a friend Herb DiGrazia is the electrical tech. He often can be heard saying “deacon slow down on the scenery, I need to put the wire in first!” The layout is an ongoing project yet to be finished. Farms, small towns, and a big city, all the buildings light up at night. From hills to flat lands miles of railroad track weave through the layout. Only Southern Pacific Lines can be seen on the tracks. Other building include the: Granary, Garden Shop, Potting House, Light Tower, Granary annex, Sky Dome Aviary, Aviaries A – B – C – D – E – F & G., The Chicken Coop Restroom, Norma’s Gazebo & The Wine Gazebo.
The Gardens are named: Utopia Garden, Fantasia Garden, Nan’s Secret Garden, Fritz Freitas Square to name a few. Deacon Dave is so very grateful to his Grandmother “Nana” Clara Gomes for leaving the property to him and his mother Norma.
He is also very grateful to all the people over the many years who have contributed in the labor of love in time and talent in building Casa del Pomba (House of the Dove). The property is truly a place of rest and peace, meditation and prayer. It is only in the Season of Christmas that the front gardens are open to the general public.
Future Plans for the Garden Coming Soon to Casa del Pomba.
Watch for it! It is hopeful that in 2007 the long planned construction of “G” size Garden Railroad will begin. The larger “G” size train has been collected over the years, much of which were gifts from the deacon’s parents. The outdoor garden railroad will wind through the vast gardens into the front gardens. Construction is expected to take several years. Most likely the front yards portion of the layout will be visible to the Christmas visitors.