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San Buenaventura Conservancy

P.O Box 23263

Ventura, CA 93002

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"Historic Preservation is about managing change, not preventing it."
Linda Dishman, L.A. Conservancy, quoted from L.A. Times, 07.10.10

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Who We Are


Barbara Kronewitter, a member of the Historic Committee of the Midtown Community Council, started the ball rolling. In 2002, she suggested to her committee that they sponsor a small home tour in Midtown, where there are an exceptional number of 1920’s and 1930’s homes in pristine condition. Barbara soon involved Cynthia Thompson, who was in charge of restoration projects at The Pierpont Inn, a historic Craftsman hotel. The Historic Committee of the Downtown Community Council was the next group to become involved. They had just formed, with Donna DePaola as the chairperson, and were looking for their first community project.

...just a few of our committee members at one of our many meetings...


With the full support of their community council boards, these two committees, plus several other volunteers, formed the Ventura Architecture Weekend Committee and spent the next 18 months planning an event which expanded to include a Gala at City Hall, two days of home tours plus a period exposition and vanishing arts exhibits at The Pierpont Inn. There was no budget so many initial expenses were paid by committee members from their personal funds. Members also solicited cash donations, services, and goods from the community. Kathy McGuire donated the use of one of her paintings for the advertising. The community’s enthusiasm and willingness to assist in putting on this event were quite overwhelming. It was obviously the right idea at the right time.

The core committee members (founders) who put on the first event were Holly and Jerry Breiner, Donna DePaola, Barbara Evans, John Jones, Barbara Kronewitter, Suzanne Lawrence, Holley Gene and Mick Leffler, Dan Long, Tracy Long, Kathy McGuire, Genaro Morteo, Mindy Nickler, Dorothea Phelan, Brian Randall, Margaret Travers, and Cynthia Thompson. In addition to this group, more than 150 other volunteers helped to make this event a great success..

Other organizations that committed their time, energy, and resources to producing this first Architecture Weekend were: the City of San Buenaventura (Community Development and Cultural Affairs), Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, The Ventura County Arts Council, Ventura Magazine, Murphy Auto Museum, Ventura County Museum, the Ventura Music Festival, and Consortium Media Services. In addition, another 80 individuals and businesses contributed services, goods, and cash. A much-appreciated angel was Main Street Architects. Their substantial cash donation at a crucial moment was greatly appreciated and enabled us to tackle our work with renewed spirits.

The foresight and inspiration of the initial committee, coupled with the hard work and dedication of many volunteers, were validated by an overwhelmingly successful inaugural weekend.

Since then, the Conservancy has hosted tours, events and lectures to celebrate the many historic resources in the Ventura Area. In addition, the Conservancy advocated strong preservation policies, incentives for historic preservation, and stronger penalties for the destruction of above-ground and below-ground historic resources. Through a partnership with the California Preservation Foundation – the largest preservation advocacy group in California – the Conservancy co-sponsored a two-day workshop in the historic Ventura County Courthouse (Now Ventura City Hall). On August 14 & 15, 2008, technical workshops were presented covering the topics of "Historic Resource Integrity" and "The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation." Those two-day workshops for planners, architects, and citizens, were the most successful in both the Foundation's and the Conservancy's history.

Ventura County is rich in heritage, and the Conservancy strives to create and enhance the policies that have protected many of the landmarks in the region. In Ventura, the Conservancy was instrumental in advocating for clear language and some of the area's strongest preservation goals in the city's 2005 General Plan and 2006 Downtown Specific Plan, and as community plans are addressed in the city, we will be advocating the value of historic preservation. The Conservancy has also been instrumental in the updating of Ventura's Downtown Historic Resources Update, and we seek to have the resource survey expanded to the entire city of San Buenaventura.

Members of the board regularly attend and comment at City Councils, Planning Commissions, the Ventura Historic Preservation Committee meetings, and the Oxnard and Ventura County Cultural Heritage Board meetings. We have assisted developers seeking to adapt and enhance historic structures, and have assisted citizens around Ventura County on preservation issues.

The San Buenaventura Conservancy will strive to bring fun and educational programs that present the region's historic and pre-historic resources to the public, while advocating for the enhancement of preservation policies so that our valuable heritage is honored, protected and restored.