New Visitor-Education Center Building
Planned at John Muir National Historic Site
June 3, 1998
SAN FRANCISCO--Construction of a 5,500 square foot Visitor-Educational
Center at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez is in the
final planning stage, representatives of the John Muir Memorial
Association reported at a news conference here today.
The Center would replace a small existing structure currently being
used by the National Park staff at the 1890-1914 home of John Muir,
famed turn- of- the- century conservationist. Under the auspices of
the Association, a public subscription drive is being held to raise $2.
2 million to construct and initially endow the planned facility.
The Center would be about 5,500 square feet and would house a 90-seat
auditorium, library and curatorial work area, interruptive visitor
display facilities, the book center and functional administrative and
work space for the Park Service staff. The present Center will be razed
and the new structure site on the same ground.
Conceptual design of the new facility is being done by George Homsey, of
Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis, noted San Francisco architects.
Homsey is familiar with the desires of the National Park Service in its
treatment of historic structures such as the Muir Manor, he recently
has been the architect of facilities at Yosemite, Sequoia and Montana.
The Park Service itself is working with the Association to plan the
interpretive usage of the new facility.
The building design provides for a facility reflecting the rural
Coastal farming and agricultural buildings of Muir¹s period. It will be
a wooden frame structure and visually blend into the park so as not to
distract from the Muir home and surrounding orchards and property. The
visitor to the site will enter the Center via a covered porch and exit
to the grounds them self into an open assembly courtyard where the
focus is uphill on the Muir Manor.
Presently, the architect, the Association and Park Service
representatives are putting the final touches to the conceptual design.
Detail design work will follow with an eye toward permitting
construction to be contracted by late fall. Actual construction is
expected to take about one year, thus It will be one of the new
buildings of the new century.
The Association is holding a picnic and festival at the Site June 6 to
mark the opening of its public subscription drive to raise the nearly $2
million construction cost plus some funding to endow the operation of
the expanded facility.
Presently, the Association has received contributions totaling more
than $400,000 to fund the project.
The Association was chartered in 1956 with a goal of saving the aged
structure where Muir lived for future generations. Working with the
Contra Costa Historical Society, they achieved this goal in 1964 The
Association, all volunteers, works with the Park Service in assisting
it with educational and like activities at the Park. The membership
totals about 300 persons and is nationwide in scope. The building when
completed will be donated to the Park Service: One of the first
privately financed in the country.
The John Muir Historic Site was established by Congress in 1964. It
consists of the large Muir Manor atop one of the small hills at the
south end of Martinez surrounded by small orchards and vineyards
depicting the agricultural activities of the era when Muir lived on the
property. Muir lived there from 1890 to his death and wrote many of his
articles and books in his study in the large mansion. Initially the home
was built by one of California¹s pioneer agriculturalists, Dr. John
Strentzel, in the 1870s. Muir married Dr. Strentzel¹s daughter,
Louie, April 14, 1880. The property also is the site of the Martinez
adobe, late 1840s home of Vincente Martinez whose rancho embraced the
Attendance at the Park in 1997 totaled about 30,000 persons. During the
school year just concluding, 85 schools in the region sent one or more
tour groups to the visit the site, view the famed conservationist¹s home
, grounds and to study the lifestyle of the late 1800s and early 1900s.
One of the features planned for the Center will be a library and
research area where some of Muir¹s written works and other memorabilia
will be exhibited. The area will have special environmental controls to
safeguard the valuable manuscripts.
Dale Cook 925.516.0570
or Dale Stickney 925.253.0769
Source: "John Muir Memorial Association Press Release ",
June 3, 1998
John Muir Memorial Association
John Muir National Historic Site Capital Campaign Fund
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