October 27 – Let’s Save the Miguel Blanco Adobe

For you late-comers to Raven Jake, welcome. There's a whole lotta information here, especially about the Miguel Blanco / Michael White Adobe, so just keep scrollin' down the page. You'll be sure to find something of interest: 

What is the Michael White Adobe? Here's the brief story: "The adobe was constructed in 1845 by Michael White, a European sailor who adopted the name Miguel Blanco and became a Mexican citizen so he could own land in California, which was under Mexican rule at the time. White's mother-in-law was Eulalia Pérez de Guillén Mariné, who worked at the San Gabriel Mission and owned land that eventually become part of Pasadena, South Pasadena and San Marino." Miguel Blanco’s (pictured at left) adobe is one of the oldest buildings in the San Gabriel Valley and his story is a triumph of multiculturalism set in the 1840s – a critical juncture in the history of  our state.  His mother-in-law, Eulalia Pérez de Guillén Mariné (photograph right) was, in her day, the most influential woman in Southern California. The Adobe is located at: 2701 Huntington Drive, San Marino, CA 91108 

Why does the Michael White Adobe need to be saved? The San Marino School District, including board of education members Jeanie Caldwell, Jeng Yen, C. Joseph Chang, Karen Preston and Chris Norgaard, want to knock down this 164-year-old adobe to expand their high school swimming pool. Yes, you read that correctly. San Marino High School was founded around what was then a 100-year-old adobe. The sports fields have completely engulfed the old building. In the past few years the school district has spent $35 million on infrastructure to the high school, and exactly $0 on the adobe (which is actually pretty well preserved – it isn't just a ruin) and now that they're out of money, it's called an "economic downturn," and they want to pave it until funds become available to expand the pool. What? Exactly! The Michael White Adobe is about to become another casualty of “progress.”

How can I help? First, educate yourself! The relevant documents are posted on http://ravenjake.vox.com/  If you are able to volunteer, organize or have more questions,

Second: write some e-mails. The San Marino Board of Education members are Jeanie Caldwell, Jeng Yen, C. Joseph Chang, Karen Preston and Chris Norgaard. Let them know you think this is a bad idea. They are stealing history from our grandchildren!

Third: Attend the board of education meeting on October 27 (Tuesday).

 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.. Location: District Office Board Room
The address for the San Marino Unified School District is:
1665 West Drive., San Marino, CA 91108

What else do I need to know? Lots of things! For instance, there is no reason to destroy the adobe RIGHT NOW. The San Marino Board of Education could simply table the Michael White Adobe’s upcoming date with a bulldozer indefinitely. This would allow the community to become involved with the project and decide what other options – moving the adobe, restructuring the existing pool and sports fields etc. would be viable.

You should also know that virtually every historical and preservation society in Southern California is against this act of historical violence. For example, heavy hitters Michelle C. Messinger, the CEQA [CEQA: The California Environmental Quality Act] Coordinator of the local government unit OHP's [Office of Historic Preservation]furnished us with a copy of the CEQA letter for the Michael White Adobe project at San Marino High School.
Terri Geis, Ph.D. the Preservation Director for Pasadena Heritage, Roberta Martinez, the president of  Latino Heritage , Tesa Becica from the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, Ann Gray of Balcony Press (architectural books) and Mike Buhler, the Advocacy Director for the LA Conservancy have all weighed in for preserving the adobe. You can see their comments here: 

Here are a couple of news stories that present the school district’s side of the story:

But be aware that some of the arguments just don’t make any sense. For instance this: School board President Jeanie Caldwell said the adobe has been a school board issue since the 1990s. "It's a dilemma for us," she said. "Everybody wants it saved but no one wants to save it." Well, no one would have to save it, if it wasn’t about to be destroyed. It would have been nice to get some lead time too.

Or how about this? "I'm in favor of people fundraising for its preservation, but as a school board, we can't budget even a hundred thousand or half a million for the adobe," said school board member C. Joseph Chang. "We are a small school district, so we don't have big revenue." Except that this national blue ribbon school that has undergone $35 million of renovations in the last 10 years. Obviously the money was there, but they chose to spend it elsewhere.

You should also be aware that the building is well-preserved and not in any immediate danger of collapsing and injuring somebody. Refer to the photos at http://ravenjake.vox.com/

Although adobe homes were made from mud and straw, they have been moved before – the Hugo Reid Adobe was moved to its present location at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in 1958, however it required a lot of reconstruction. But why not just leave it?

This is what the San Marino High School website says “Let me quote something from PTA history in 1955 . . .“In the 1870’s, Mr. Joseph Heslop donated an old house and 2 acres of land on the South-East corner of Huntington Drive and Del Mar Avenue for use as school property. Mr. Heslop’s wife, Francesca, was the daughter of Rosario de Guilleu and Miguel Blanco, whose adobe house stands on our high school grounds today. From 1873 – 1890, the children of the Heslop’s, L. J. Roses of Sunnyslope, the Cooper’s, Dan Mulock’s, Pollar’s, J. Smith, and Colonel Winston attended this school.”  http://tiny.cc/san_marino

Let's save the Michael White Adobe. Our future depends on our past.


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~ by ravenjake on October 17, 2009.

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