Attendance is typically comprised of architects, archaeologists, city planners, local and state government employees, historians, lecturers, educators, students, contractors, developers, historic homeowners, Native AmericanTribal representatives, and many more.
Registration discounts for early registration will be available in early 2011. Standard registration costs include the full conference, some food and beverage, some special events, and all conference materials. Sponsorship opportunities are available as well. Hotel accommodations are not included in the registration fees.
Interested parties may also register to receive email notifications of updates to the website by visiting the same website’s home page.
When Arizona, faced with a massive budget crisis, announced plans in January to close 13 state parks, Shaw Kinsley learned that the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park was included on the list.
“The park was conceived to boost tourism in our little artist town,” says Kinsley, the president of the Tubac Historical Society. “It would have been devastating” to lose it.
Tubac, located 45 minutes south of Tucson, relies on income from cultural tourism to keep the economy strong, Kinsley says. “We had to come up with a plan.”
Renee Bahl, the executive director of Arizona State Parks, facilitated a solution, organizing an unprecedented public-private partnership between the state, county, and Tubac Historical Society. The agreement gives the society the authority to operate the 11-acre park for one year, with an annual renewal option. The arrangement has a “silver lining,” Bahl says. “Now we have a strong partnership with preservation communities that will never go away.”
Since the agreement, Tubac’s shops and art galleries have donated $15,000 of their profits towards park operations, and an additional $20,000 have come from individuals and other non-profit organizations. Volunteers have worked to keep the site open five days every week. Visitor rates are up slightly, too, Kinsley says. This summer, traditionally the slow season, tourists from 26 different states have come. More volunteers are still needed, however, to create rotating exhibits and lead gallery tours.
“Now that we have the park open, we need to pump up our marketing to get the word out,” Kinsley says. “We need to give people a reason to keep coming back.”
By negotiating such agreements between the state and local governments and communities, Bahl has managed to keep 23 of the 28 parks open.
“You may not see any park ranger,” at sites like Tubac, Bahl says, “but there are others that are ensuring the parks are preserved and protected.”
The mission known as “The White Dove of the Desert” shimmers with the unworldly glow of a mirage in the dry flatlands south of Tucson.
San Xavier del Bac, with its asymmetrical towers, elegant curves and exuberant decoration, is the best example of Spanish colonial architecture in the nation. It’s such an important window into the past that it was one of the original listings when the National Register of Historic Places was established in 1966.
But the White Dove is in danger.
The Legislature drained the Heritage Fund, wiping out a $150,000 grant that was supposed to help pay for repairing the east tower. The job was the final part of a two-decade restoration project. Without it, the tower and the entire structure are at risk.
Go to San Xavier, and you can’t miss the problem. The mission’s two towers look like “before” and “after” pictures for plastic surgery.
The west tower has brilliant-white stucco, new balustrades, reworked volutes and a reconstructed balcony made with mesquite.
The shorter east tower, which doesn’t have a cupola, is dingy, chipped and mottled with black mold stains. Parts of the finials and cornices are loose and could come crashing to the ground.
The Revolutionary War had just officially ended and southern Arizona was still part of New Spain when construction started on Mission San Xavier in 1783. The structure, made from fired-clay bricks in an unusual series of 11 domes, has the fluidity and openness of the Spanish baroque style.
Thanks to a series of factors, including a 50-year abandonment, isolation and scarce resources for making major changes, the mission has remained relatively unaltered since it was built. Architect Bob Vint, who has worked on the restoration, calls it “a time capsule.”
Virtually all the art inside, which has been cleaned by an international team of conservators, dates from the late 1700s. The sculptured-plaster altar is covered in gold and silver leaf.
The mission, which sits on the San Xavier Tohono O’odham Reservation, still functions as a parish church. But the building itself is a cultural monument and a major tourist attraction, drawing about 200,000 visitors a year from around the world.
In an ironic twist, most of today’s problems come from past efforts at restoration. The exterior was coated with concrete in a misguided attempt to protect the mission. But the concrete ended up trapping moisture, melting away the centuries-old bricks.
The current restoration project strips off the concrete and goes back to the original way the mission was built. The bricks for it are produced in Mexico using a traditional process – including a mule-powered mill to sift sand out of the clay – to match the mission’s bricks in density, porosity and salt content. The mortar is mixed with local sand and lime, plus a natural glue made from cactus pads.
The Patronato San Xavier, a non-profit that promotes the mission’s conservation, has managed to keep the restoration rolling with a combination of fundraising and grants.
The west tower was finished in 2009, and the scaffolding was about to go up on the east tower when word came that the Heritage Fund grant was in jeopardy.
We are not talking enormous sums of money. The Heritage Fund has put in $230,000 over the course of 15 years.
The current grant was just $150,000. But it would have triggered an equal amount of matching money and provided a solid base for starting the east tower project. The total cost is estimated at $1.5 million.
Voters established the Heritage Fund in 1990, dedicating money from the state Lottery to several grants programs for recreation and historic preservation. But the Legislature has been raiding that part of the Heritage Fund for the past three fiscal years, taking a total of $26.3 million.
The San Xavier grant was canceled. And there’s no prospect of getting it back. Lawmakers quietly abolished the cultural and recreational portion of the Heritage Fund.
Interestingly, the part of the Heritage Fund that is administered by the Arizona Game and Fish Department has taken hits in the past but didn’t fall victim to this year’s budget crisis. Maybe advocates of culture and history would be more persuasive if they carried rifles and fishing rods.
San Xavier’s restoration should have been finished in time for Arizona’s centennial in 2012.
That’s impossible now. But it would be a disgrace not to have the work well under way on the state’s 100th birthday.
We’re in a real race against time.
“That east tower is deteriorating,” says Vern Lamplot, executive director of the Patronato. “The longer it sits, the more damage is done to it, which ultimately threatens the whole thing.”
These are tough times for fundraising. But the remaining cost of restoring this irreplaceable piece of Arizona’s history and culture is remarkably small. It’s inconceivable that Arizonans won’t raise it.