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Argus-Courier Editorial

Preserving a slice of local history

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:21 p.m.

Last year, thanks to a group of local volunteers that was able to raise $70,000 to keep it open, the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park narrowly averted being shuttered after state parks leaders falsely claimed they had no money to continue operating 70 of California's parks.

When it was later revealed that top State Parks Department officials had been sitting on $20 million that could have been used to keep the parks operating, heads rolled in Sacramento.

For now, the newly released state funds, coupled with the money raised locally, mean that Petaluma's oldest and most significant public landmark will remain open until June 30, 2014. Beyond that, it's uncertain if the state will continue operating the park, but it's hoped that it will.

A hidden treasure tucked away on the eastern outskirts of the city, the Petaluma Adobe is the oldest building in Petaluma and one of the most significant historic sites in Northern California.

A national historic landmark, the Adobe dates back to 1834 when Mexican General Mariano Vallejo began construction of the main building of his 66,000-acre rancho. It was acquired by the state in 1951 and continues to be a piece of living history where children and adults learn about life in Petaluma in the mid-1800s.

The grounds and buildings are a destination for thousands of elementary school teachers and students from throughout the Bay Area. Annual events such as Living History Day, Sheep Shearing Day and Fandango are held there during the year.

Until last year, monies raised by the Sonoma/Petaluma State Historic Parks Association were traditionally used to fund maintenance and improvement projects. But with the donations having been exhausted just to keep the park operating, the association has turned its attention to renewing its efforts to restore and preserve the Adobe.

After discovering extensive damage from nesting birds, association members researched the matter and learned that plastering the facility would not only alleviate the problem but would also restore the building to its original appearance. A major fundraising effort was subsequently initiated to refurbish the Adobe to what it looked like in the 1800s, with a benefit music concert scheduled at the Lagunitas Brewery on Feb. 11.

If you are interested in helping preserve Petaluma's oldest building for future generations, stop by or consider making a donation by visiting www.sonomaparks.org

John Burns, Editor and Publisher

Petaluma Argus-Courier



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