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Richmond awards history preservation

on May 11, 2011

The Richmond Art Center, the Plunge and Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest active National Park Ranger, were among this year’s Historic Preservation Awards recipients.

The award ceremony, which took place on Monday in the City Council chambers, brought together more than hundred people who are concerned about Richmond’s historical heritage. “Richmond has a wonderful and rich history and we have to preserve it, but also educate people about it,” said Rosemary M. Corbin, chair of the Historic Preservation Commission.

The City Council Chambers were full of people for whom history is as important as the present.

The commission, which consists of nine people, awarded individuals, groups and organizations involved in historic preservation or promoting Richmond’s heritage.

One of the awards, for community building, engagement and story telling, went to Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest active National Park Ranger. “Miss Betty brings to life the previously untold story of the Home front life of women and people of color of Richmond,” said Robin Cawelti, a member of the Historic Preservation Commission. “Although she can bring the past to life, she is also very present in the here and now.”

Soskin said she felt happy and touched by receiving the award. “Richmond is such a young city. Having it become aware of its past is such a great thing,” she said.

Among other recipients were the Richmond Art Center for preserving the Roeder Folk Art Sculptures, Joe Fisher, for his book about children’s art and KCRT Channel 28 for saving Richmond’s history on film and video.

Patricia Pearson, the member of the Historic Preservation Commission presented the award to Joe Fisher, the author of the book “Children’s Art & Children’s Words: Richmond California 1943 – 1966.”

The Save the Plunge Trust and the City of Richmond were recognized for the restoration of the historic swimming pool and Andrew and Kim Butt received the award for the rehabilitation of their home on Scenic Avenue. “The Butt’s house was only the second family house we’ve given the award to,” said Corbin. “I’m hoping this awards will encourage people, when they are remodeling their homes, to restore their historic look.”

The special National Park Service Home Front Award went to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce for their many years of hosting the annual USO Dance and Home Front Festival by the Bay.

The recipients also received congratulations from Richmond’s mayor, Gayle McLauglin. In her short speech, she summed up the necessity of preserving history by quoting the traditional saying: “It is not good because it’s old, but it’s old because it’s good.”

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