The mission of Monterey State Historic Parks Association is to support interpretation, educational programs, and special events at Monterey State Historic Park in downtown Monterey.
The association also assists all of the California State Parks by raising funds and increasing public awareness.
News & Events
- 135th Anniversary of Robert Louis Stevenson's Arrival in Monterey
- Missing McCormick Now on Display
- Christmas in the Adobes 2014
- Los Ninos Summer History Camp
- Living History Day - July 4, 2014
- Stevenson House Now Open Saturdays
- CSU Monterey Bay students tour the Larkin House garden
- Historic Walking Tour
- MSHPA Wins $60k Match
- Handmade Artisan Crafts Celebrating Day of Dead
- Cooper-Vallejo Reunion a Great Success
- MSHPA Responds to the National Trust
- Newsletter Archives
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135th Anniversary of Robert Louis Stevenson's Arrival in Monterey
Saturday, August 30, 5-7pm
Join the Monterey State Historic Park and the Robert Louis Stevenson Club in celebrating the 135th anniversary of Robert Louis Stevenson's arrival in Monterey. The event will be dedicated to the "Amateur Emigrant" and focus on the experiences of RLS and French-speaking travelers who stayed at the French Hotel and took meals at Simoneau's Restaurant. Refreshments and entertainment will have a French theme. This event will be held at the Stevenson House, located at 530 Houston Street in Monterey.
For more information please visit http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24072
Missing McCormick Found
The word came Feb. 15 of this year in an innocuous e-mail from a state parks curator in Sacramento: "Hi Kris, We have found a painting by M. Evelyn McCormick, a California artist specializing in Monterey's historic buildings and adobes. We thought you might be interested." That was the first notification for Monterey State Historic Parks curator Kris Quist that a long-sought mural by an acclaimed local artist had finally been located. The McCormick mural, part of a series of six commissioned by the federal Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression, had hung in Custom House in the late 1930s.
The huge, horizontal, oil-on-canvas murals showed people at work utilizing natural resources of the Monterey area. They had been created specifically for the California State Park System. (More than 450 art objects were commissioned by state and federal government work relief programs from 1934-42. The goal was both to create high-quality public art, and also to support artists during the Great Depression.) Three of the murals were already hanging at Robert Louis Stevenson House. Painted by Henrietta Shore (artichoke pickers), William Hyde Irwin (cowboys) and August Gay (fishermen), the bold figures and bright colors are reminiscent of Diego Rivera. They arrived last year from a Sacramento warehouse, and will be on display during Art in the Adobes Sept. 13-17.
State park records showed that the original group of six murals included shrimp fishermen by Evelyn McCormick, and quarrying and lumbering by two lesser-known artists. The big name among the six was clearly Evelyn McCormick, whose Impressionist landscapes and adobes now command well into six figures. Coincidentally, she'd also had an art studio upstairs at Custom House in the 1930s. But the McCormick mural had gone missing from state park records sometime in the 1970s. Quist said he had been looking for the mural in state park records for a decade or so, after hearing about it from Scott Shields, author of "Artists at Continent's End: The Monterey Peninsula Art Colony, 1975-1907". Quist wanted to find it for this year's Art in the Adobes program, and asked state park colleagues for help. When the McCormick finally resurfaced, it was rolled up with a bunch of maps on the mezzanine of a warehouse. The 74' by 30" mural had been removed from its frame. Now cracked and dusty, it was in sorry shape.
The challenge was to refurbish the painting ("conserve" is the art world's term) and get it to Monterey in time for Art in the Adobes. Oh, and find some way to pay for the conservation and transportation. "I have no budget for art."
State parks was sending a huge shipment of archived materials from Sacramento to Monterey in April, including furniture donated by Frances Molera from her family's many homes and offices. So, if the McCormick could hitch a ride on this shipment, MSHP could save thousands of dollars in transportation. That meant there was roughly two months to finance and complete the conservation.
Two days after learning the McCormick had been found, Quist e-mailed Jim Alkons, an expert in restoring murals. Alkons said he would do the necessary work for $5,000, an extremely low figure by art world standards.
The news was conveyed to Julianne Burton-Carvajal, curator of the Art in the Adobes show. She quickly managed to find two out-of-the-area donors, who together gave $3,500. Quist then tapped Blaine Lamb, chief of archaeology, history and museums for California State Parks, who provided the remaining $1,500. These funds were conveyed to Old Monterey Foundation, which officially funded the restoration.
Alkons finished the conservation, including cleaning, relining and reframing, on April 9. The painting was packed for shipment April 11, and delivered to Monterey April 12, along with the Cooper belongings. "When I first saw it, there were challenges," said Quist. "When I got it back, it was gorgeous."
"Considering that it was missing for 30 years, we really jammed for this year's event. The timing was perfect." A book about Evelyn McCormick is due out in September. Nelda Hirsh has titled her biography "A Bohemian Life: M. Evelyn McCormick (1862-1948), California Impressionist". Its publication is expected to draw additional attention to the mural in Stevenson.
"I like the idea of public art created with public funds to be shared with the public," said Quist. "A lot of the art now in state buildings was originally private. Not much was created specifically for a public building for public view."
--Susan Miller, Newsletter Editor
See this beautiful mural and others on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Stevenson House located at 530 Houston St. in Monterey.
Los Ninos Summer History Camp
Become a "Time Traveler" this summer at Monterey State Historic Park's Summer History Camp for students entering 3rd to 6th Grades. We offer two, 1-week programs, June 9-13 & 16-20. Click on the brochure for registration information and program details.
Living History Day - July 4, 2014
Following Monterey's 9:00 a.m. parade in historic downtown Monterey, the volunteers and staff of Monterey State Historic Park present Living History Day on July 4, 2014 at the Cooper-Molera Adobe garden, 525 Polk St. at Alvarado, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Living History volunteers in period attire recreate Old Monterey lifestyle, with blacksmithing demonstrations and hands-on activities including leather stamping, 19th Century children's games, and fandango lessons for all ages. They'll also show you how to use a rope making "machine" to braid your own rope to take home after the event. The non-profit Monterey State Historic Park Association will sell tacos, Mexican drinks, and old-fashioned sodas to raise funds for the park's children's educational programs. The Cooper family antique carriages will be on display in the Garden.
Entrance fees are: Adults - $3.00; Youth (age 7-17) - $2; Children (age 6 & under) Free.
Stevenson House is now open
Saturdays and Sundays,
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
at 530 Houston St.
These extended hours are thanks in part to the generous donation of Craig A. Smith from the Travelodge Monterey.
Robert Louis Stevenson House (1840-1897)
Reading more like a Robert Louis Stevenson tale of travel and romance than real events, the story of Stevenson's courtship of Fanny Osbourne, his future wife, comes alive amid Stevenson family paintings, furniture, and Stevenson memorabilia. Information about the house's beginnings as a Mexican era home, a late 19th century boarding house (The French Hotel), and early 20th century uses, such as an artists' studio and workshop, are included in the building's foyer.
CSU Monterey Bay Students
Tour the Larkin House Garden
Historic Walking Tour
Join California State Park Guides for an in-depth look at the history of Monterey focusing on the cultural contributions of native peoples, Spanish colonials, Mexican independence and the beginning of American governance. See California Historical Landmark #1, First Brick House, the Old Whaling Station with the last Whale bone sidewalk in Monterey, and California's First Theater.
Limit 20 persons per tour.
Tours leave from the Pacific House Museum at: 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:00 pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday Holidays
Adults (13 and over) $5.00
Kids (12 and under) Free
*Kids must be accompanied by paying adult*
The last Sunday of every month is free admission and tours for Monterey State Historic Park.
*Credit Cards not accepted for admission fee ~ exact change is greatly appreciated.*
Christmas in the Adobes 2014
December 5 & 6, 2014 - 30th Anniversary Year!
5 P.M. - 9 P.M.
Stroll thought the streets of Historic Downtown Monterey and visit 19th century adobes for fandango dance lessons at Custom House, or bagpipes and cookies at Robert Louis Stevenson House. Refreshments, games history and fun await the entire family during Monterey's signature holiday event.
Proceeds benefit Monterey State Historic Park children's educational programs.
Check back for ticket information in October.
To become an event sponsor, contact Michael.Green@parks.ca.gov
Handmade Artisan Crafts Celebrating Day of Dead
During the fall season, the Cooper Store featured handmade artisan crafts celebrating Day of the Dead. A longtime Mexican tradition, this annual November 2nd celebration of the memories of our ancestors and loved ones features flowered skulls and skeletons made of clay, tin, and paper mache. Our selection included wares from artisan families throughout Latin America and is like no other!
MSHPA Wins $60k Match
There's now an additional $60,000 in MSHPA's fund for opening State Park adobes to schoolchildren and the general public. In November, MSHPA learned that its request for funds to match all monies it has raised in the past several years was approved by parks director Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson.
Jackson signed the proposal Oct. 29 — the day after he visited Cooper adobe.
The money will be used to open Custom and Pacific Houses more days of the week, and to provide tours of Cooper, Larkin and Soberanes adobes, as well as walking tours of downtown.
The matching funds come from a special one-time State Parks allocation. MSHPA's initial $60,000 includes funds raised through Christmas in the Adobes and the Cooper Museum Store, Monterey County Weekly's "Monterey Gives!" program, and from the fandango fundraiser sponsored by Association of Monterey Area Preservationists.
During his visit, Jackson noted that the first priority for the matching funds had been parks that were on last year's closure list. He said about $1 million was still left for other parks. Monterey district superintendent Mat Fuzie observed the only reason MSHP wasn't on that closure list was that there was no money to be had by closing it. (All buildings except Cooper had been closed already. The only reason Cooper wasn't closed was that State Parks' contract with the National Trust for Historic Preservation required Cooper to be open a specified number of days each year.)
Cooper-Vallejo Reunion a Great Success
48 descendants attended including the youngest Cash Cooper Haley (front, far right) from San Luis Obispo. All were very interested in the Trust's proposal and want to be kept in the loop. They expressed their interest in another reunion next year.
MSHPA Responds to the National Trust
MSHPA has responded to the Trust's plans by asking for a "better compromise," and for a "true dialogue" with serious listening. Co-presidents Betty Crowder and Jan Houser outlined MSHPA's position in a letter to David Brown:
"We are very concerned about the National Trust for Historic Preservation's plans for conversion of buildings at the historic Cooper adobe site.
"We can accept putting a restaurant in the 1830s Spear Warehouse. That building had commercial uses from the beginning.
"We can live with leasing the 1840s general store to a retail client. Even though Monterey State Historic Park Association (MSHPA) volunteers have served as docents and operated a museum store there since the 1980s, we understand the need for additional revenue to pay for maintenance at the site.
"(All our profits have gone to children's educational programs at Cooper. We hope Monterey State Historic Park, which has operated Cooper for the Trust, can find another location for our store.)
"What we cannot condone is gutting the downstairs of the family home for a second Cooper restaurant. The 1833 Restaurant in the historic Stokes adobe is barely a block away on Hartnell and Munras streets.
"Meanwhile, Cooper is the only adobe home in downtown Monterey that (1) has never been remodeled or modernized, and (2) is furnished with all of the family's original furnishings.
"We think it would be a travesty to lose this historic treasure. We remain optimistic that a better compromise can be reached between generating revenue and preserving a public treasure for current and future enjoyment.
"We hope the Trust will seriously listen to our concerns and those of local preservationists, State Park staff, and members of the public. We hope that presentations by the Trust June 4-5 are just the beginning of a true dialogue among all interested parties."
Copies of this letter are also being sent to State Parks director Gen. Anthony Jackson, Monterey city officials and as a press release to local media and letter to the editor to local newspapers.
- January-March 2014 Newsletter (PDF)
- July-September 2013 Newsletter (PDF)
- January-April 2013 Newsletter (PDF)
- October-December, 2012 Newsletter (PDF)
- August-October, 2012 Newsletter (PDF)
- May-July, 2012 Newsletter (PDF)
- February-April, 2012 Newsletter (PDF)
- August-October, 2011 Newsletter (PDF)
- May-July, 2011 Newsletter (PDF)
- January-March, 2011 Newsletter (PDF)
May, 2010: Volunteers Enjoy Enchanted Day at Hearst SHM
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