Cross-Border Preservation Updates
By María Castillo-Curry
Tecate Depot removed from SOHO's Most Endangered
The Tecate Depot has been removed from SOHO's Most Endangered List after three years of being considered threatened by abandonment, vandalism, and new construction. Built in México at the beginning of the twentieth century, this historically significant structure was remodeled with an investment of $15,000 from the Mexican Federal and State governments. The finalization of the work convinced SOHO's Preservation Action Committee that this treasure was no longer in danger of destruction.
SS Catalina in the harbor at Avalon, c. 1940's
The border marker at Border Field State Park
The Jai Alai Palace in Tijuana.
New hopes for the SS Catalina
The SS Catalina, stranded in the Ensenada Harbor since 1999, was listed again on SOHO's Most Endangered List since the efforts to refloat and restore it are still underway by the international SS Catalina Preservation Association. The good news is that a recent survey by a well-known international company showed that there is still hope for the White Steamer. The SSCPA is hoping for an anonymous donation that will be able to pay for the refloating and relocation works. More fundraising would be needed to bring the ship back to the US.
Border Field State Park still threatened
Border Field State Park made SOHO's Most Endangered List for a second year. The construction of a 14-mile triple border fence that will enclose and militarize this state park has not been halted despite the efforts of environmental and preservation groups from Mexico and the US. The Safe Border Coalition, formed in 2002 to battle the construction of the fence, is still trying to convince the Department of Homeland Security that the new fence will negatively impact fragile ecosystems, cultural resources, and community life in the southwestern-most point of the US. A strategy for continuing this battle is to collaborate with other grassroots organizations along the Mexico-US border facing the same problem.
The Bungalows at Agua Caliente are being altered
Some of the 32 bungalows on the grounds of the former Agua Caliente Casino Resort have been altered recently by additions made by the tenants who have lived there since the Federal Government expropriated them in 1938. Most of the occupants are former professors of the Lazaro Cárdenas High School, and some are refugees from the Spanish Civil War. The Commission of Preservation in Tijuana, the advisory group at the municipal level under the State Preservation Law, is taking action to stop these alterations. Many people ignore the existence of these beautiful bungalows, which lie hidden in the back of the Casino. Architects Wayne and Corinne McAlester of California built both the Casino and the bungalows.
The Jai Alai Palace in Tijuana remodeled and restored
The Jai Alai Palace, built by San Diego Architect Eugene Hoffman in the 1930s, is being remodeled. With the completion of the exterior, the remodeling of the interior is now underway. The Commission of Preservation from Tijuana and members of the Council of Monuments visited the place to assess the work and to give it the green light under the requirements imposed by the State Preservation Law of Baja California. The building, located in Avenida Revolución, was used to play the famous Basque game and is considered one of the best examples of Californian architecture in Tijuana. The restored Jai Alai Palace will be used for shows of international quality and appeal, helping in the regeneration of one of the oldest streets in downtown Tijuana.
Preservation Workshop sponsored by the Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior
In June, a series of conferences on historic preservation took place on the various CETY campuses in Mexicali, Ensenada, and Tijuana as part of the Program of Preservation that the Instituto de Cultura of Baja California coordinates under the State Preservation Law. The talks were transmitted through closed circuit television, and the topics were on international preservation documents, law, and natural patrimony. The speakers were professors from the University of Baja California, the Colegio de la Frontera Norte, and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.
Tijuana celebrates its 114th Anniversary
The City of Tijuana celebrated the 114th anniversary of its "virtual" foundation with a series of cultural events sponsored by the city government, the Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura, the Lazaro Cárdenas High School, the Instituto de Cultura de Baja California, and the Society of History. The history and architecture of the Agua Caliente Casino and the high school that took its place was one of the main topics presented in a celebration dedicated to the Casino's history. A dinner with a menu designed using old recipes from the Casino was offered as part of the events.
Iron Road of the Californias Presentations
A presentation on the IRC was made at the First International Conference of Heritage Development Areas in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (June 9-11). A talk on the Criteria of Intervention for the Tecate Depot was also presented at the History Seminar in Ensenada in May. Another talk on the cultural diversity aspects of the project was presented at the California Preservation Foundation Conference in Santa Barbara. The Tecate group, formed by city council members, professionals, and grassroots activists working on several subprojects for the IRC, met on July 10th. A workshop on the Restoration of Windows and Doors, to be held by the National Park Service in Las Flores, California, at the end of July, will be attended by architects from Baja California who want to help in future train depot restoration projects.
American Institute of Architects professional Tours
Ernesto Santos, from the American Institute of Architects Border Group, and María Castillo-Curry coordinated three professional tours on old and modern architecture in Tijuana during the AIA International Conference. The tours took place on May 9th, 10th, and 11th and were very well received by those who had the opportunity to attend. We visited Avenida Revolución, downtown Tijuana, and Zona Rio, La Cacho and La Chapultepec neighborhoods. The end of the tours was the "Mona" or "Doll", a house built in the shape of a woman, in a popular Tijuana neighborhood, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the City.
María Castillo-Curry is a professor at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.
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