When Mandie Wall, director for residence life and housing, put the finishing touches on interior updates to Casa Pacifica, Fresno Pacific University’s Shaver Lake cabin, in June 2020, the last thing she expected was a massive wildfire to destroy it that same summer. Having spent weeks refurbishing and redecorating and years taking thousands of students to the cabin, she was crestfallen.
“I grieved the memories,” she said, “the efforts that we had poured into the atmosphere, and my heart was broken that we wouldn’t have a space to create more memories,” she said.
Wall was not alone in her feelings, and on February 11, 2023, a new Casa Pacifica was dedicated. “The original Casa was the product of many people,” said Dalton Reimer, Ph.D., emeritus communication faculty, during the dedication. Reimer was instrumental in the acquisition and construction of the original cabin more than 35 years ago. “This place here is a testimony that it takes more than a fire for a vision to die.”
The new Casa Pacifica is a furnished three-story, 3,768-square-foot house in Millerton that accommodates 25 people in four bedrooms, four bathrooms, dining and meeting spaces, swimming pool and spa. Lake access is nearby at South Finegold Picnic Area. Like its predecessor, Casa is available for student groups, departments, employees and others.
The $775,000 purchase was funded by the insurance payout and land sale of the previous cabin with enough remaining for repairs, improvements, furnishings and to seed an endowment. The 1-acre fenced property boasts sweeping views of Millerton Lake and access to numerous trails.
During the dedication, students, alumni, faculty and administrators shared memories of the original Casa Pacifica and excitement for the new one. All emphasized the importance of retreat.
“Students of great faith, of no faith and those questioning their faith will meet God here,” said President André Stephens.
The First Casa Pacifica
The history of Casa Pacifica is not just an account of a cabin—or even two. It is the story of people twice making real their commitment to Christian higher education at Fresno Pacific.
In 1976 Dalton Reimer and other faculty members wanted Fresno Pacific College to have a place where students, faculty and staff could retreat and recharge in the healing hands of God’s creation. That year Dalton’s father, Nikolai (Nick) K. Reimer, learned the National Park Service was purchasing private cabins in Kings Canyon National Park to be relocated. “So, for better or worse, he informed me,” Dalton wrote.
The O’Bosky cabin offered two full floors of 1,200 square feet and an unfinished half floor. Dalton and fellow faculty bid $1,057 and Dalton and wife Beverly provided funds and took title.
Construction and Use
With a building to move and nowhere to move it to, pieces lived in faculty garages until the purchase of five acres near Shaver Lake for $21,000. Construction began in 1980, with the Reimers leading faculty and other friends of the college to donate time and expenses.
By June 1, 1984, all was ready. The cabin was backed into the hillside for three full floors. Dormers and a two-floor porch were added, along with a deck on three sides. The interior featured new utilities, fixtures, windows, cabinets and bath and kitchen facilities. Beds and bunks slept 24, plus third-floor lofts, and loungers could enjoy tables, chairs and sofas. Non-university rentals and an endowment allowed official university uses to be free. FPU took ownership in 1998 and Dalton continued to manage and maintain Casa Pacifica until 2003.
Popular with freshmen collegiums, athletic teams, faculty, staff and their families, other university groups and outside agencies, Casa was often reserved up to three years in advance.
A New Casa Rises!
Tragically, September 4-5, 2020, Casa Pacifica was among 60 houses destroyed by the Creek Fire. Talk about a new Casa began almost immediately and, after considering several properties, the university chose a house at Millerton Lake. Reservations may be made at https://forms.office.com/r/cVR2S8rfdX.
In 1984, the vision of a few for a place to refresh spirits and build and deepen relationships became real in the original Casa Pacifica. In 2023, we renew that vision with today’s Casa Pacifica.
Be part of Casa Pacifica’s future fpu.edu/casaendowment
Remember the first Casa Creek Fire takes Casa Pacifica: a special part of Fresno Pacific University | University News
Dedication article by Jillian Freeman. All information on the original Casa Pacifica quoted or adapted from “Casa Pacifica Executive History: 1976-2003” by Dalton Reimer, Ph.D., emeritus communication faculty.