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April 18, 2011

From 1910 to 1955, the hills over Los Gatos just off Bear Creek Road were home to a boys’ school, the Montezuma Mountain Ranch School for Boys.  Although there was never an enormous population of students, at one point the campus did include a whopping 300 acres.

Known for discipline, hard work and ethics, the school appears to have been exceedingly well respected and influential for its work with students all the way from k – 12. 

Notably, Julia Morgan, the renowned architect best remembered for her design at the Hearst Mansion, seems to have played a hand in the school’s buildings too, making the site doubly interesting from an historical perspective. 

A Catholic religious order, The Sisters of the Presentation, bought the site in 1956.  Initially it was Presentation College (from 1958 to 1971), connected with the University of San Francisco (a Jesuit college) and served as that order’s novitiate. Today it is the interfaith Presentation Conference and Retreat Center.  (Check out their photo tour and map, which calls out Montezuma Hall too.)

The Montezuma Foundation continues to be active more than a half century after the school’s closing.  Each summer the members offer a three day leadership program at the Presentation Center, the old campus location, and it boasts that “over 300,000 high school students have participated in this program since its inception in 1934”.  Pretty impressive that the influence of the school’s founder lives on.

 The sisters have an “open house” about once a year where visitors can come and take in the scenery, check out their “green building” program and have a look around.

In the near future, though, is their annual Mother’s Day Brunch, which is open to all. If you have never been up to this scenic spot, Mother’s Day might be the perfect time for the trip!

More Resources:
Newsletter article from the Preservation Action Council of San Jose, summer 1998
Online article History of Montezuma
Historical info from the Presentation sisters on their order, the prior school, their college and the work at the campus today.
Images of the Montezuma School in 1940, care of the Hooked on Los Gatos program