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The Governor's Historic Preservation Awards Program

Established in 1986, the Governor's Historic Preservation Awards are presented annually under the sponsorship of the State Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) and California State Parks to projects, individuals, and organizations whose contributions demonstrate significant achievements in preserving the heritage of California. The history of California is embodied in buildings, structures, sites, and objects that provide tangible links to the people and events that shaped California's growth and development. Since 1986, more than two hundred Governor's Historic Preservation Awards have been given in recognition of exemplary efforts to preserve those connections to California's past. 

Nominations are accepted from January to early May of each award year, with an awards ceremony taking place in Sacramento in mid-November. Questions concerning the awards program may be directed to Diane Barclay, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, at or 916 445-7026.

2015 Award Recipients

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Governor's Historic Preservation Awards. In all, eleven nominations were selected, encompassing a diversity of historic preservation projects from local, grass-roots, to larger, multi-partner endeavors. All of the awarded projects represent exemplary efforts to preserve California's heritage. Congratulations!

The policy report, Sustaining San Francisco’s Living History; Strategies for Conserving Cultural Heritage Assets had its beginnings in a citywide community summit, hosted by San Francisco Heritage, to discuss concerns over the increasing displacement of legacy businesses, non-profits, and cultural institutions and neighborhoods that reflect the city’s diverse cultural heritage. Summit participants’ recommendations to address these concerns directly informed the strategies and solutions outlined in Sustaining San Francisco’s Living History. Notable outcomes since the report’s publication include the establishment of a Legacy Business Registry, the first of its kind in the country, and the creation of a Preservation Element for the city’s General Plan, that will include an entire section on cultural and social heritage. Sustaining San Francisco’s Living History has won praise locally and nationwide, and set an example other communities already look to follow.

The City of Pasadena’s “Historic Pasadena” Smart Phone App, launched in 2014, combines GPS and mapping technology available on smart devices with the City’s historic resource information already available online. This allows people the opportunity to find, view, and learn about the city’s historic properties all in one application process. The Smart Phone App has three primary functions: users can search for historic properties within 500 feet to 10 miles of their immediate location; they can search for specific architectural styles or for the work of particular architects or builders; and they can access a series of pre-defined walking and driving tours of the city’s historic properties and neighborhoods. In addition to the app, the city developed a webpage for each of the app’s walking and driving tours, as well as printed tour brochures. 

“A Walk Through Time: the Story of Anderson Marsh,” is a film project that preserves through cinematic imagery and narration, the cultural, historic, and natural significance of the region in and around Anderson Marsh State Historic Park. The film is the result of a highly successful collaboration between California State Parks, the Koi Nation of Northern California, the Advanced Laboratory of Visual Anthropology (ALVA) at California State University Chico, renowned archaeologists John Parker and Greg White, and public stakeholders. As a result of the film project, the co-participants have developed stronger relationships and are working together on other projects to protect and interpret cultural resources. For the Koi, who were an important and guiding presence on- and off-camera, the film project inspired both the creation of Ancestor One, a consortium of Lake County Pomo that focuses on cultural heritage protection, and establishment of a Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.

A Napa Coloring Book is a professionally illustrated coloring and activity book that promotes Napa County’s history and cultural heritage. It is Napa County Landmark’s (NCL) first bi-lingual publication with text presented both in English and Spanish. Community businesses and individuals supported the project by donating or reducing costs of needed materials and services. The author, illustrator, and language translator all donated their services to the project. The book, which is distributed free to schools throughout the Napa region, highlights the area’s diverse cultural heritage and historic resources, provides a local context for grade-school studies of California history, extends NCL’s community outreach, and encourages an ethic of preservation. 

The Santa Barbara Courthouse Clock project involved the restoration of the Courthouse tower’s 1929 clock, and the rehabilitation of a storage room into an interpretive clock gallery. The project had strong community support, especially from timepiece enthusiasts, Dr. David Bisno and Mr. Dick Schall, who together, fully funded the project. The tower clock is one of the few fully mechanical clocks still in operation in the United States. The restored clockworks are the centerpiece of the gallery which includes a sixty-foot mural depicting the history of timekeeping, fiber optics, a short video about the workings of the tower clock, and facsimile bells that simulate the sound of bells ringing during the chime and hour functions. Hundreds of visitors, including time enthusiasts from around the world, and local school groups, have visited the clock gallery and watched the tower clock strike the hours. Interpretive brochures were created as were note cards, the sale of which help fund the operations of the gallery.

Audrey Geisel University House is the official Chancellor’s residence for the University of California San Diego. The 1950s Pueblo Revival style adobe residence underwent an extensive rehabilitation, including the repair and restoration of all exterior features, the rehabilitation of interior windows and wood ceiling beams, and the refurbishment of historic light fixtures.   The house sits on a site recognized as a Native American Sanctified Cemetery. The site contains numerous intact burials dating back at least 10,000 years. The goal of the project was not only to preserve and maintain the integrity of the house but preserve the site itself as a place of cultural value to the Kumeyaay people. The project represented a productive collaboration between the University, the project team, archaeologists, and the Kumeyaay Nation that resulted in a successful rehabilitation project with minimal disturbance of the cultural layer and sacred burial sites.

The Coit Memorial Tower rehabilitation project was significant for its successful collaboration between two City of San Francisco agencies: the Recreation and Parks Department which maintains and operates Coit Tower, and the Arts Commission, which cares for the tower’s murals, painted in the 1930s as part of the Public Works Art Project. Due to Coit Tower’s historic significance, original character-defining materials were repaired rather than replaced whenever possible, and conservation measures were taken to stabilize the artwork while keeping it accessible to the public. Coit Memorial Tower attracts thousands of visitors annually from all over the world for its stunning views of San Francisco and the Bay Area, and for its colorful murals. Repairing the exterior, restoring interior finishes, improving accessibility, and conserving the building’s artwork, ensures the historic tower’s continued existence as an iconic international cultural destination.

The Presidio Officers’ Club is one of San Francisco’s most historic buildings and is an amalgam of adobe, wood-frame, concrete, and steel structures built over the course of approximately two-hundred years. The non-profit Presidio Trust conducted a comprehensive rehabilitation of the Club, with the goal of transforming the building into a fully public cultural destination. The rehabilitation project protected and revealed the building’s defining characteristics and enabled the public access to long-closed spaces. The historic front of the building was fully restored. Portions of the building’s Spanish-era adobe wall were exposed for the first time since being covered in the 1880s and are now part of an interpretive display. The Presidio Officers’ Club hosts school and after-school programs, tours, and interactive family activities, all of which are free to the public and help visitors to explore the Presidio’s history and culture.

Located on the campus of Westridge School in Pasadena, California, the 1906 Robert Pitcairn Jr. House and the 1905 Reverend A. Moss Merwin House are early examples of the work of master architects Charles and Henry Greene. The Pitcairn House features classic Greene and Greene design elements such as outdoor sleeping porches. In the Merwin House, the Greene brothers combined a mixture of styles including the Craftsman architectural style that the brothers were exploring then. The restoration and rehabilitation project took painstaking efforts with both houses, to retain and repair as much of the original materials as possible, and restore the Greenes’ original aesthetics. The work on the Pitcairn and Merwin houses ensures that these landmark structures will remain tangible links to a pivotal time in the Greene brothers’ careers.

The 176 year-old Dana Adobe is on the National Register of Historic Places and is recognized as one of California’s best examples of a Mexican-era adobe with a unique blend of New England and Mexican architectural influences. The Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos (DANA) non-profit organization committed to restoring the adobe back to its finished look of 1850. The project gained the support of the local community, builders, service groups, businesses, philanthropists, and the California Conservation Corps, who helped perform much of the work. DANA developed a nature education program to complement the cultural program offered at the adobe, and collaborated with the local Chumash kinship group, Yak Tityu Tityu, to ensure the accuracy of Native American interpretive elements. The Dana Adobe restoration project also has led to initial plans and funding for development of the DANA Cultural Center, which will include the restored Dana Adobe, a visitor center and a Chumash interpretive center. 

The Carmel Mission Basilica, completed in 1797, was the first of only three stone mission churches in California. By 2012 the basilica was in great need of attention. Community members formed the non-profit Carmel Mission Foundation to fund and oversee the restoration project. Walls and buttresses were seismically retrofitted. Particular care was taken in the repair of historic plaster, exposed stone surfaces, and original wooden roof support beams. 3-D technology was used to accurately measure roof components. An Indigenous Peoples Consultant advised the project team on the handling and reburial of human remains found within the structure of the church. A complete record was made of the project to aid future restorers. The successful stabilization and restoration work will ensure the Carmel Mission Basilica is available to visitors for decades to come.