Track 2: Sustainability and Conservation of Built Heritage in the Americas
More often than we prefer, we find ourselves revisiting restored historic sites that are confronted by new threats. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the Cooper Molera Adobe historic site in Monterey, California. Originally dating from 1827, the site is a National Historic Landmark situated within the Monterey State Historic Park. The property reflects the early years Monterey was the political and commercial capital of Mexican Alta California, through the development of the State of California, and is a 2.5 acre complex comprised of numerous adobes and a barn complex all surrounded by an original adobe wall. The property was donated to the National Trust in 1972, in a very serious state of disrepair, but with minimal endowment. The Trust entered into a long-term lease with California State Parks, who seismically strengthened and reconstructed much of the complex in the 1970s, restoring it to the mid-19th century period and removing later additions. By 2010, a lack of resources for public programming and historic interpretation, as well as a serious backlog of restoration needs, resulted in minimal public visitation and a questionable future for the property. In 2011, faced with declining revenues from the site and diminished state resources, California State Parks chose not to renew the lease when it was due to expire in 2016.
This presentation will provide an overview of the 1970s seismic strengthening and rehabilitation that truly reflects the preservation philosophy of that era and created the site as we know it today. The presentation will describe the new threats confronting the historic complex in 2010 and how the Trust pursued economic sustainability while developing a rehabilitation and adaptive reuse plan reflecting current philosophies of preservation and adaptive reuse. The project allowed for the Trust’s continued presence on the site while expanding the interpretative program of the historic residential adobes to include stories not previously told about Cooper Molera’s diverse occupants including Native American household servants. The updated interpretive program was combined with development of appropriate commercial uses in portions of the complex that had historically housed commercial uses, in a corner store and commercial warehouse. The presentation will also include the seismic strengthening of the deteriorated and long shuttered complex of historic barns, that were not completed in the 1970s, and are significant as the sole remaining urban barns within the Monterey city limits.
The entire project is a tremendous example of how a previously restored historic site incorporated renewed and new uses to achieve economic, social and historic sustainability while preserving, again, one of the most significant Mexican Era sites in the State of California.