From ghost towns and lighthouses to expanses of fragile desert and those infamous redwoods, California’s 1.4-million-acre parks system boasts more than 280 miles of coastline, 625 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, and 3,000 miles of hike and bike trails...for now.

If you've watched the news lately, you know that times are tough in sunny CA. In the face of a budget deficit of $24 billion and counting, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently announced a no-holds-barred budget that would scrap some $70 million in parks funding through June 30, 2010, and even more down the road. As a result, the future of 200+ unique and irreplaceable sites, stories and experiences – nearly 80% of the entire system – is unclear.

Inside the Cooper Molera Adobe

Inside the Cooper Molera Adobe

Included on the extensive list is the Cooper Molera Adobe, a National Trust Historic Site in Monterey.

Fully restored in the 1980's, the Cooper Molera Adobe preserves life from the era when Monterey was part of Mexico to the beginnings of California statehood. This three-acre site includes a house built by several generations of the Cooper and Molera families, historic barns, vegetable and flower gardens, and an extensive museum store. The site is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and operated by California State Parks.

A deadline to adopt Governor Schwarzenegger's budget came and went last week without an inkling of resolution. If passed as is, the Cooper Molera Adobe – and 219 of its counterparts in the system – could be padlocked starting as soon as Labor Day, leaving only 59 units open to visitors. Some revenue-generating solutions (such as an additional fee on vehicle registrations) have been brought to the table as a means of supporting parks/sites that are not economically self sufficient without state dollars, but negotiations are ongoing and remain fierce.

I will be traveling to California later this month, and Cooper Molera is definitely at the top of my itinerary. Please stay tuned for a follow-up post on my visit there, and bookmark and the California State Parks Foundation for important news and advocacy updates as this story unfolds.

Max van Balgooy is the director of interpretation and education for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Sites Department. Learn more about the National Trust's 29 historic sites across the country, and visit the National Trust Historic Sites Blog.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Celebrate America's Birthday on a Main Street that Matters

Posted on: July 2nd, 2009 by Guest Writer 1 Comment


By Andrea Dono


Families in Clinton, Missouri line Main Street to watch the annual Olde Glory Days parade.

No plans for the Fourth yet? Consider heading to Main Street!

America’s historic downtowns are the perfect backdrop for celebrating Independence Day, and visiting these special places gives us an opportunity to reflect on our heritage and to enjoy Americana in an authentic setting. As a result, Main Streets throughout the nation are welcoming neighbors and new visitors this weekend with a wide variety of events that run the gamut from traditional community gatherings to blow-out patriotic events.

Earlier this week, we created a special web page for Main Street leaders and enthusiasts to post descriptions of how their towns are celebrating our nation’s birthday, as well as to upload photos of their holiday events. So, what’s happening on Main Street? Lots!

Williamsburg, Kentucky isn’t waiting for Saturday to get started. Come Friday, the streets will be closed off for their Old Fashioned Block Party, which features live music and dancing. Hopefully, Williamsburg residents won’t party too hard because Saturday starts with a benefit 5K run/walk. A parade through downtown and a fireworks display will cap off the evening, while other events like the annual corn toss tournament and the town's duck races keep the celebrations rolling throughout the weekend.

Clinton, Missouri starts early, ends late, and seems to out-do itself every year with its four-day Olde Glory Days, which features free entertainment for everyone. There’s going to be music, weiner dog races and a pet parade, a carnival, a quilt show, a fine arts show, and the debut of a Wii tournament, among so many more activities. Visitors can enjoy the state’s largest courthouse square, many historic building ad murals, Breanna’s soda fountain shop, and a 1921 bandstand. Olde Glory Days is sponsored by the local business community, which uses the July 4th weekend to show Clinton residents how much they are appreciated. Similarly, the celebration in Charles City, Iowa spans five days every year and attracts enough people to double the city’s population! A variety of entertainment and activities are planned for all ages, including its most unique element – a water ski show.

Located 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, Louisiana offers unspoiled outdoor recreation, a plethora of historic plantations, and culinary adventures ranging from fried chicken served up at a converted gas station to alligator bites and crawfish boils. Visitors shopping in the historic district on the 4th get to participate in a “flag pull.” Secretly marked flags are at every checkout counter, and shoppers pick one to receive discounts of varying amounts or perhaps even a special gift. After putting away all of their purchases, people gather to enjoy food, music and fireworks.

I don’t know about you, but these events sound like a blast. We invite you to catch the excitement and enjoy this holiday in your nearby historic community. Attending Main Street events, shopping at local businesses, and supporting your local revitalization program shows that you believe that Main Street matters. Want to find a Main Street near you? Search for one with our Main Street program locator.

And of course, it’s not too late to share your community’s celebrations and photos. Visit our Red, White and Blue Main Streets web page to submit yours today.

Andrea L. Dono is an associate editor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Center. She would like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at

Notes from New Orleans: Land Acquisition for LSU Hospital Halted

Posted on: July 2nd, 2009 by Walter Gallas


Governor Bobby Jindal's commissioner of administration, Angele Davis, announced last week that land acquisition on the LSU portion of the proposed hospital site in Lower Mid-City New Orleans would be halted. The announcement appears to be an attempt to pressure LSU to adopt a compromise regarding the governance of the state hospital. The compromise was rejected by the LSU Board of Supervisors after a negotiated arrangement steered by the State Secretary of Health and Hospitals had been settled on by both LSU and Tulane leadership.

This development came as both the state legislature was winding down and hope of reviving House Bill 780 faded. This bill, which we had succeeding in passing through the House, stalled in a Senate committee. It would have done something similar to what the governor ordered – halted land acquisition for the new LSU hospital until a financing plan was approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

Governor Jindal's people opposed HB 780, yet they decided to use this leverage to get LSU's attention. It is noteworthy that in Davis's statement below, she recognizes the challenges of raising the funds for this project, which is pegged at $1.2 billion. Here's the full statement:

There remains no agreement on the proposed governing structure and it is critical that we make an intensified effort to reach an agreement before the state acts to purchase the property. The proposed agreement called for a non-profit corporation to operate the hospital, with the corporation being responsible for obtaining debt financing. Without this corporation, or an agreement by the stakeholders to form the corporation, financing the project becomes a bigger challenge.

This will have no impact on the VA Hospital and the on-going land acquisition activities for the new VA Hospital in New Orleans. Today, we are suspending land acquisition activities and efforts for the MCLNO / Charity replacement hospital pending a resolution of the governance issue.

In other developments out of Baton Rouge, we were happy to see that Senate Bill 75 was put to death – at least for this session – after two last-minute efforts to attach it to other bills. The bill would have required that the New Orleans master plan be put to a vote of the citizens again, despite the fact that they already voted to amend the city charter last fall to include a master plan with the force of law, an accompanying zoning ordinance, and a citizen participation process. However, the issue may not really be dead and could come back to life as part of the mayoral or city council campaigns that will begin this fall.

New Orleans' master planning process continues to go forward, but there remain questions about whether the City Planning Commission and City Council will ever really weigh in on the plans for the LSU and VA hospitals in Mid-City. Up until now, these bodies have stood back and said they have no authority over the planning of these two massive public projects.

> Learn More About Our Efforts to Save Lower Mid-City New Orleans

Walter Gallas is the director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's New Orleans Field Office.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.


By George McDaniel

Watson Hill

Strong preservation campaigns are needed to protect the historic Ashley River Region from development threats. (Photo: Brad Nettles)

I am thrilled to report a positive outcome in our long campaign to stop the mega-development, Watson Hill, and to preserve the historic Ashley River Region.

The wonderful news is that the timber company, MeadWestvaco, which initially sold the tract in July 2004, is re-purchasing Watson Hill and folding it into their larger conservation-minded land development project named East Edisto. Ken Seeger, project manager of East Edisto, informed me last week that they had signed a contract and explained that they envision following the county ordinance we finally got passed for the district in 2007, which calls for low densities and clustering.

Had the developers of Watson Hill won and developed their 4,500 proposed units – along with hotels, commercial center and golf courses – the impact on the Ashley River Region would have been tremendous.

Since the 1990's and early 2000's, Drayton Hall and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have been engaged in protecting and preserving the Ashley River Region. Through our work, we have secured a management plan for the river; bought the land across the river from Drayton Hall; passed an ordinance in the city of North Charleston requiring 100-foot vegetative buffers for the Drayton Hall, Middleton and Magnolia historic sites; and won designation of the river as a state scenic river, and of the road as both a state and national scenic byway.

But threats still abounded, and in 1996, we designated the region to our 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. Unfortunately, many of our efforts, even for simple things (much less zoning changes to protect the region), were met with vehement public hostility in regards to property rights and were defeated decisively by the Dorchester County Council.

We knew there was danger, but even as of 2004, I had never heard of Watson Hill. In late July of that year, I got a telephone call while on vacation from a developer asking me if I'd heard of the recent sale of Watson Hill and the plans for development there. I asked, "Where's Watson Hill?" Little did I know that for almost the next five years, it would be very much a part of my life and that of hundreds, if not thousands, of our supporters.

Both in word and deed, this support was decisive to this remarkable victory. Please join me in celebrating!

Learn More About the Ashley River Region:

> Drayton Hall

> The Ashley River Historic District

> Map: The Ashley River Region, Courtesy of Drayton Hall

> Map: Ashley River Region Threats and Opportunities, City of Charleston, Planning & Neighborhoods Department

> In the News: The Watson Hill Victory (Charleston Post & Courier)

> In the News: There are Good Reasons to be Optimistic About Watson Hill (Charleston Post & Courier)

George McDaniel is the director of Drayton Hall, a National Trust Historic Site in Charleston, SC.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at



By Priya Chhaya

Imagine a construction project in the United States lasting 127 years.


Barcelona's Sagrada Familia is 127 years in the making...and still counting!

It’s pretty hard to do, isn’t it?

This past June, I stepped into a structure that has been under construction for just that long – and will continue to be worked on until its completion many, many years from now.

This is Barcelona’s famed Sagrada Familia. Arches – sweeping and fingerlike – frame an entryway flanked by imagery and sculpture narrating the history of the Christian faith. Here and there, splashes of color indicate the handiwork of Antoni Gaudi, the master architect behind other Barcelona landmarks such as Casa Mila/La Pedrera and Parc Guell. It is a masterpiece with its own history beyond that of the hundreds of people who have worked on it.

This is a preservation story of a different kind – not of a building locked in time, but one that is quite literally entwined with the present. The construction uses some modern planning and drafting technology, but depends mostly on the written descriptions of Gaudi’s followers (a fire during the Spanish Civil War destroyed the original models and plans). More importantly, this magnificent cathedral is a part of Barcelona’s ever-changing identity, and in preserving the traditional trades and styles, the generations of workers and designers are making history.

The construction of the Sagradi Familia is dependant entirely on donations and entrance fees. The estimated completion date for the cathedral is 2026 – 100 years after Gaudi’s accidental death on the Sagrada Familia site.

I know that the places we fight for all have a deep connection to our own personal identities. Please take a moment and share with us a place that defines where you live and/or who you are. What stories does it tell?

Priya Chhaya is the program assistant in the office of Training and Online Information Services at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at