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Notes From the Archive

MAY 2021

This is a publication of the Seaver Center for Western History Research, a section of the History Department. If you are informed by what you read here, please share it with a friend or colleague.

National Preservation Month

The national observance of historic preservation began in 1973 as "Preservation Week" from May 6 through 12.  The idea was to coalesce local and state preservation efforts with the federal level.  In 2005 the concept expanded to the entire month of May.
1973 was the same year the Natural History Museum's History Department was selected to conduct surveys of Los Angeles County historic sites under a statewide project funded by the National Preservation Act of 1966.  Tom Sitton, now Curator Emeritus, headed the project beginning in 1974, and when the work concluded in 1978, nearly 800 files were compiled.  Eighteen nominations were written for the National Register of Historic Places, and the Museum reaped the benefit when the 1913 building and its grounds were added to the National Register on March 4, 1975.  Tom contributed more information to the files until the mid-1990s, and today the Historic Sites Surveys continue to offer a unique resource to researchers.
While many of the sites did not make the preservation list, one success story that resulted from Tom's extensive research was the Exposition Park Rose Garden which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.  

After completion of the National Register applications for the Spring Street and Broadway historic districts in 1978, he and his boss faced objections from several corporations owning buildings there.
A look at several documents from the voluminous site survey file for the Natural History Museum.  The nomination was originally initiated by History Curator Burt Reiner.

 

Los Angeles Union Station


This year’s Oscar ceremonies were held at the historic Los Angeles Union Station, the last great railroad station built in the U.S. (1939).  The Mission Moderne building with Art Deco elements was designed by John Parkinson, whose other iconic L.A. landmarks include City Hall, Bullock’s Wilshire, and the Memorial Coliseum.  Union Station was an ideal host for the Oscars as many films were shot there including Union Station (1950), Them (1954), Lady Sings the Blues (1972), The Way We Were (1973), Blade Runner (1982), Bugsy (1991), Speed (1994), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Seabiscuit (2003) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
John Cahoon
Waiting Room  From the Union Station Collection (P-111-61)
Newstand (P-111-96)
Harvey House Restaurant (P-111-93)
The Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, popularly known as Union Station, received Los Angeles City Historical Cultural Monument status in 1972 followed by recognition on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

 

Edwards Store in Eastern Oklahoma


The Roscoe P. Conkling Papers from the Seaver Center have proven to be a valuable resource for an update to the National Register of Historic Places nomination for Edwards Store in eastern Oklahoma.
 
Preservation and Design Studio, PLLC of Oklahoma City (PandDStudio) is undertaking the update to the nomination. The revision provides additional justification and information that was not available nearly fifty years ago, when the nomination was first written. A photograph from Conkling’s papers (circa 1933) is the earliest discovered representation of the building, which is best known for its historic association with the Butterfield Overland Mail stage route.
 
 
Image courtesy of Preservation and Design Studio, Oklahoma City
Image courtesy of the Roscoe Conkling Collection (GC-1006-7-7)
Built by Thomas and Nancy (Hardaway) Edwards in circa 1850, with subsequent additions in 1870 and 1889, the Edwards Store is among the oldest surviving log buildings in Oklahoma. Between 1859 and 1861, stage drivers and passengers on the Butterfield Overland Mail route stopped at the Edwards Store and homestead for lunch.
 
Following the Civil War, the store served as the original townsite of Red Oak, for which Thomas Edwards was named postmaster. The store was operated by Edwards, his wife Nancy, and her nephew Jesse Hardaway. It flourished until 1889, when the Red Oak townsite relocated eight miles southwest to be closer to the railroad. The site remains under family ownership. A cemetery nearby contains the final resting places of Thomas and Nancy Edwards and is still in use.  
Images courtesy of Preservation and Design Studio, Oklahoma City
PandDStudio is working with The Edwards Store, Inc., a nonprofit organization, to restore the log building and document all historic resources on site. Founded in 2009, PandDStudio is a professional services firm specializing in the redevelopment of historic properties throughout Oklahoma and the southern Great Plains.
 
The rewritten nomination for Edwards Store is currently under review by the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office. Formal listing of the property on the National Register of Historic Places is anticipated in late 2021.
Matthew A. Pearce, Ph.D., Historian, PandDStudio

Duxbury Point in Bolinas, California


A research question came in during of October of the pandemic year from Joseph Duxbury of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England.  Joe was near the tail end of completing research for a book when U.S archives shuttered their doors.  The Seaver Center continued business by email and supplied him the image seen above in the masthead. 

The drawing shows a busy scene at a Boston port with passengers readying to board the ship Duxbury in February, 1849.  The illustration would be shared on board a passenger-produced handmade newspaper, The Petrel.  A number of issues would be produced by the time the ship arrived in San Francisco in August.  The Seaver Center has three issues.
Joe wrote:  "I first became aware of the ship Duxbury when I came across the 1849 Gold Rush poster held by the Peabody Essex Museum. Look! Look! A ship with my name on it! I had to know more."  He plans to publish a book titled The Ship Duxbury, and Other Vessels.
As Joe tells it, the ship Duxbury ran aground on a reef at the entrance to San Francisco Bay, and luckily was dragged off without any reported damage.  

And the reef got to be renamed Duxbury Reef. Presumably the headland was then named Duxbury Point.  There had been many, many shipwrecks on that reef, but it was the Duxbury name that stuck.

In 1896 a schooner was built in Benicia for a ship's captain from Bolinas -- also named Duxbury. She was used for trading in the Arctic until she was crushed in 1926 while on the icy Beaufort Sea.

Duxbury Reef and Duxbury Point are not national historic sites, but the stories beneath the place names can certainly to be appreciated.

In Memoriam:  Lynne Eisler

The Seaver Center’s longest serving docent Lynne Hogg Levin Eisler died peacefully in her Sierra Nevada mountain home on April 7, 2021.  Lynne was a 45 year volunteer at the Museum, nearly all with the History Department, before moving to Shaver Lake 7 years ago.  She was born and raised in Hawaii, was there when Pearl Harbor was bombed, was taught to surf by Duke Kahanamoku, and was a swimmer in the Junior Olympics.  She appeared in the 1958 film South Pacific, and had bit parts in 1950’s TV variety shows including the George Goebel Show.  Lynne was truly a Renaissance woman, doing research projects in Ireland on Holy Wells and in France on ancient church renovations.  She went to cooking school in Paris, and worked with medieval manuscripts in Italy.
John Cahoon
Lynne is shown at the Volunteer Recognition Night in April 2013 when we honored her for Outstanding Achievement.

Lynne was a good friend and we will miss her. 


Plan Your Research Visit

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Email seavercenter@nhm.org
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The Collections

Over 370 general collections | Over 290 photographic collections
 

Digitized Collections

The collections are a part of the History Department of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The Seaver Center opened in 1986 through a generous grant from the Seaver Institute.
 

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