Celebrating preservation month
by John Neiuber
May is Preservation Month. The California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) has invited all California communities and preservation enthusiasts to make the month of May an opportunity for discovering/re-discovering, honoring and sharing the unique heritage of the local region and city.
Each year Claremont Heritage selects a theme that guides activities and initiatives. This year’s theme is “Spirit of Place” and harkens back to other years such as Heritage’s 40th anniversary in 2016 when the theme was “Places that Matter,” based on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s theme of “This Place Matters.”
For each of us, our appreciation of sense of place differs. I have a singular memory of my grandfather’s newspaper office. It was a two-story building with a basement. The first floor was the editorial offices, the second story housed a law office, but those steps down to the basement brought me to a place of wonder and excitement with the smell of ink, newsprint and the hot metal of the linotype machine. To this day I am transported back to those days if I smell printer’s ink.
Claremont Heritage is celebrating Preservation Month by hosting the Annual Awards Gala—Spirit of Place, on Saturday, May 11, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at the Padua Hills Theatre. Come celebrate with Heritage as it honors this year’s awardees, more information is at claremontheritage.org.
Pitzer College will be recognized with the Bess Garner Preservation Award for their outstanding restoration and stewardship of the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability. The Conservancy is housed in what was once the Memorial Infirmary for the Colleges (see my November 2015 column for more information) that is located north of Foothill Boulevard in the Bernard Field Station.
The Claremont Museum of Art will receive the Cultural Heritage Award for their contribution to celebrating the community’s rich artistic legacy and promoting the cultural vitality of the city and the region. The Museum is now housed in the old Santa Fe Depot on First Street, an excellent example of how historic buildings can be adaptively reused thereby extending their life and usefulness to the community.
There are a number of ways one can celebrate Preservation Month in Claremont:
Attend the historic Claremont Village walking tour on Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m to noon. Meet at the Claremont Depot, 200 W. First St. The cost is $5 per person and reservations are requested by calling (909) 621-0848.
Take one of Claremont Heritage’s self-guided tours. These can be found on the Claremont Heritage website at claremontheritage.org. The tours include the Claremont Village, the Claremont Colleges, historic Route 66, Indian Hill Boulevard and North Claremont.
Visit the historic Garner House, the home of Claremont Heritage, located in Memorial Park on the east side of Indian Hill between Eighth and 10th Streets. The home to the Garner family for many years, the house is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. The house, patio and exhibition space are also available for rentals.
While at the Garner House, visit the Claremont Heritage Gift Gallery. One can find authentic fruit crate labels from the heyday of the citrus industry, in addition to books, local art, a map to tour modern architecture, and the Heritage produced film, Claremont Modern – The Convergence of Art + Architecture at Midcentury.
Mark your calendar for the next Claremont Colleges walking tour for either September 14 or November 9, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. The tour meets at the Seaver House, 305 N. College Ave. The cost is $10 per person and reservations are requested at (909) 621-0848.
Mark your calendar for the 37th annual Claremont Heritage Home Tour, for Sunday, October 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This always popular home tour brings preservation enthusiasts from far and wide. Watch for further information at claremontheritage.org.
Volunteer your time to assist at a Claremont Heritage event, help in the office, assist with archiving or serve on a committee. Volunteers are also needed to serve as docents during the annual home tour.
View Claremont Heritage’s archived collections currently being digitized and available via the city of Claremont’s history at the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. Heritage’s archived collections housed at the Garner House include records from the Claremont Cooperative Water Company, church histories, citrus records, maps, photographs and postcards.
Historic preservation is not only about preserving buildings and sites, but also the stories and traditions connected to those places. To preserve history, tell stories. Share your personal or business archives that tell the story of your family, organization or business. Here are some ways you can help to preserve history.
Create a family history book. It can be a hard copy or a digital book. Collect photos, documents and have family members write, record or video stories and histories. Make a plan to update the book each year and include significant events and milestones to add to your family history.
Contact Claremont Heritage and volunteer to do an oral history. Make an appointment to share your history and memories of the city and important events.
Gather artifacts, records, pictures and other documents to donate to the archives of Claremont Heritage. These items help tell the story of the city and provide valuable information for future generations.
Volunteer to do a presentation at a Claremont Heritage event and share your specific knowledge of a particular time in the history of the city. Perhaps you served on the city council or as a commissioner, or you were involved with the chamber or your own business during a time of change and growth and have a good story to tell.
So, what is your printer’s ink memory of place? What places in Claremont matter to you? If you have a particular place that matters to you in the city, do this: Make a sign that says, “Spirit of Place.” Stand in front of a place that matters to you and have your picture taken with the sign, post it on social media and tag: #claremontheritage.
Note: The Building Claremont series will continue next month.