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The Binational Preservation Front

By María Castillo-Curry

The Mexico-US border is a unique area with its trans-border culture and is characterized by the Americanization of Mexico and the Latinization of the United States. Daily thousands of people move from one country to the other, bringing with them their traditions and imprinting their culture on the regional landscape. The effects of this flux on the built environment raises many issues. Bungalows, trailer parks and some of the roadside architecture in the north of Mexico are considered alien to the rest of the nation and as such receive little protection. In addition, many Mexican-Americans consider that the past they should protect is not in the US, but only in their parent's land.

In recent years, preservationists have been working together to reach a more unified approach to their common heritage. The decentralization of public administration and the creation of the state preservation law in Baja California are important steps in that direction. The first cultural district, whose principles were inspired by concepts in the US, will soon be declared by the governor of Baja California. The Missions have been the focus of combined binational efforts to adequately interpret our heritage.

In 1998, the binational SS Catalina preservation Association (SSCPA) was created to save the famous White Steamer and it also promotes new ways of cooperation and education through preservation. In 1998 and 1999, SOHO, together with El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), held binational workshops on maritime preservation in Tijuana. Following these trends, the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT) created El Museo de las Californias and recently added to its council SOHO past president Robert Broms. just as five years prior, SOHO had begun binational workshops and included the first Mexican National on their Board of Directors. In 2000, SOHO participated in the binational conferences, Tendencias Regionales de la Preservación de la Herencia Cultural de las Californias organized at CECUT with COLEF creating opportunity for interaction between preservationists and scholars. These conferences created great enthusiasm for many people who see preservation with a regional vision.

Juan Cabuto, administrator for the Society of History in Tijuana has been working with COLEF to form the Fundación Aficionados a los Ferrocarriles de Baja California, a grassroots organization which will soon be looking into the care of the Tijuana and Tecate railroad. Those interested can attend their March 10th meeting at 12 pm at the Society of History in Tijuana. Railroad fans from the US and Mexico will be participating. The San Diego Railroad Museum has invited this new association to take part in their meetings. As part of the effort to preserve the railroad, a trip to Tecate, Baja California to clean the depot is planned for March 24th.

Recently SOHO participated in a binational panel in Los Angeles for the National Trust where attendees expressed interest in future conferences addressing international topics.

Martha Edna Castillo Sarabia, a leader of the preservation movement in Ensenada, has been working with SOHO and the International Council of Monuments and Sites in support of the preservation of the Santo Tomas Winery district in Ensenada. She has also recently joined the SS Catalina Preservation association. The Comité Pro-Conservación Bodegas de Santo Tomas headed by Martha is celebrating the first year of their movement on March 31 with a human chain to embrace the main block where the winery buildings are located.

To further the preservation movement we need to create a new academic framework. In that regard, SOHO is addressing the need of a binational preservation program and will continue to keep members current on this preservation movement in both Californias.

2001 - Volume 32, Issue 1

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SOHO's Preservation Revolving Fund
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Whaley House Garden Restoration Project


Haunted Houses: Preservation Help or Horror?
Historic Façade Easement Program

Villa Montezuma Provides Lessons in Color


California Preservation Foundation 26th Annual Conference

History Alive! Chautauqua


The Binational Preservation Front
SOHO's 2001 People In Preservation Awards

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