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OLD MONTEREY FOUNDATION Launches Walking Tours at Lower Presidio

Old Monterey Foundation has launched Monthly “Lower Presidio Historic Park Walking Tours” beginning Saturday, March 19, 2016 .

February 18, 2016, Monterey, CA.   LPHP_Logo_blueOld Monterey Foundation has teamed up with noted Monterey Bay historian and author, Tim Thomas, who will begin offering fascinating “Lower Presidio Historic Park Walking Tours” on the third Saturday of every month from 10:00 AM – Noon.

The special Lower Presidio Historic Park Walking tour will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2016:  “Lower Presidio Historic Park: Focus on Sebastian Vizcaino – Discovery of the Monterey Bay.”  Tours meet in front of the City of Monterey’s Presidio of Monterey Museum, 113 Corporal Ewing, Building #113. (From Monterey, take Pacific Street past the Monterey Conference Center and the First Theater to the end of Pacific where it forks, take the left fork;, turn left onto Artillery Road, turn right on Corporal Ewing Road and follow it to the Presidio of Monterey Museum in the center of the Park against the hill; from Pacific Grove, take Lighthouse Avenue in New Monterey, turn right on Private Bolio Road, quickly turn left on Corporal Ewing Road and follow it to the Presidio of Monterey Museum.

Advance reservations are required by calling Tim Thomas at (831) 521-3304 or via email  The tour is for ages 10-adult only and the cost is $20 for adults and kids are $15 (10-15 years).  Group rates are also available.

About Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas, fourth-generation native of the Monterey area, is a popular speaker and lively tour guide. Tim Thomas photo2For 16 years, he was historian and curator for the Monterey Maritime & History Museum and has worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California State Parks and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. He is author of “The Abalone King of Monterey: ‘Pop’ Ernest Doelter,” “The Japanese on the Monterey Peninsula” and co-author of “Monterey’s Waterfront.” Tim also conducts monthly “Wharf Walks” on Monterey’s Old Fisherman’s Wharf and offers Cannery Row walking tours, as well.

About the Lower Presidio Historic Park

The Lower Presidio Historic Park, described as “The Most Historically Significant Site on the West Coast” and “One of the Most Beautiful Places in Monterey” is on its way to becoming a true historic public park to be enjoyed by locals and visitors. Old Monterey Foundation, in cooperation with the City of Monterey and Department of the Army, has raised initial funds to begin Phase One of the project to enhance and restore this historic 25.3-acre site and is now seeking public donations to help complete the project. Old Monterey Foundation invites everyone to become members of “Friends of the Lower Presidio” at and make tax-deductible donations to more quickly restore the park.

The Lower Presidio Historic Park is one of the least-visited historic parks in the area due to some confusion about whether the public is allowed in the area.  Sierra:SloatSituated in a “hidden in plain sight” location, the park features spectacular views of the Monterey Bay and Harbor and will become a jewel of the City of Monterey’s park system.

With the help of donations and grants, Phase One of the project will give the Lower Presidio Historic Park the look and feel of an historic public park, including improved way-finding and identification entry signs to assist the public in accessing the site and highlighting several of the important historic periods at the Presidio; development of pathways, benches and interpretive signs and monuments on the site; replacement of the old cyclone perimeter fence with a wood-appearing historically accurate fence, minimal branch/tree removal where necessary to assure views of the Monterey Harbor and restore it to the way it was seen historically; and development of an ADA approved path leading to the Sloat Monument, the highest point of the site.  Old Monterey Foundation is now also seeking funds to restore the Father Serra statue that was recently vandalized.

Eric Palmer and Anne McGrath of the City of Monterey Outreach Office recently completed an informative short video about the Lower Presidio Historic Park and its significance to California and American history:

Why is the Lower Presidio Historic Park considered by many professional historians as “The Most Historically Significant Site on the West Coast”?  There are many major historic highlights of this site that Tim Thomas will discuss in depth over the coming months which include:

·         Prehistoric archeological presence of indigenous tribes.

·         Spanish period that begins with the landing in 1602 of Sebastian Vizcaino, who discovered the Monterey Bay and named the land, “Monterey”, after the Viceroy of Mexico; followed by Father Junipero Serra and Gaspar de Portola in 1770; including the first El Castillo (Presidio) up through the Argentinian Hipolite Bouchard’s raid in 1818 when he attacked and sacked the City of Monterey, which is the only land and sea battle ever to occur on the West Coast of the United States.

Continue reading OLD MONTEREY FOUNDATION Launches Walking Tours at Lower Presidio

2015 in Review


As we look forward to 2016 and 2015 comes to a close, we would like to thank our friends and partners for helping the Old Monterey Foundation fulfill our mission to promote, support and enhance the artistic and cultural environment of historic downtown Monterey, California.


Some highlights of the year:

 This year we embarked upon our most ambitious project yet: the implementation of the plan for Lower Presidio Historic Park. This project is best described as a public-private partnership with the City of Monterey, with OMF serving as a community-oriented tax-exempt entity to gather financial support to implement this very excellent plan which was adopted by the City in 2002, but has not been implemented as yet due to lack of municipal funding.


OurIMG_1044s is a five-year commitment to raise the necessary funds and direct the construction of agreed improvements that will make Lower Presidio Historic Park a centerpiece of historic Old Monterey. What is largely an unknown public facility will be turned into what looks and feels like a park (Phase I) that welcomes the public, local and visitor alike. Pathways, interpretative signs, benches and tables, and an entrance that is easily located for even the most casual visitor. Later Phases will renovate some historic buildings located on site and develop interpretation of El Castillo and Fort Mervine. An amphitheater will be installed for concerts overlooking the Bay. This 25.3 acre site will become the jewel of Monterey, worthy of its description as the Most Historically Significant Site on the West Coast.

The spectacular view from Lower Presidio Historic Park

Starting from scratch, we have been successful in raising nearly one-half the funds necessary to build out Phase I in our first year. Against a total projected cost of $680,000, we have obtained commitments for over $320,000 by January 2016. Starting with a generous grant of $215,000 from Monterey’s Neighborhood Improvement Fund and Committee, we have received $50,000 from the Thomas Doud, Sr. and Anita M. Doud Fund I and the Engracia Irene Murray Field of Interest Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County; a $4,000 Opportunity Grant from Community Foundation for Monterey County$20,000 from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation that sponsors the AT&T Golf Tournament; $2,500 from the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District and other donations from numerous contributors.  Our progress and growing community enthusiasm is well reflected in this recent news article appearing in The Herald:

Progress in development of the Park to date include completion of engineering plans and specifications for the Phase I improvements, and development of remarkable signs and monuments by our contractors Sandy Freeman and Kelly McCay.

Proposed entrance Sign at Artillery Gate
The Range of signs designed for Lower Presidio Historic Park

The package is about to be submitted to the Army and State, with an optimistic start of construction date in June 2016.

With ongoing support from the Marcia F. DeVoe Fund at Community Foundation for Monterey County, we continued our collaboration with the Monterey Museum of Art to present excellent speakers to augment the Museum’s special art exhibits. This year programs were presented by Robert Edwards and Julianne Burton-Carvajal, covering the iconic career of Pedro de Lemos and a third program by Scott Shields highlighting the art of Armin Hansen.

All programs were free to the public and were presented in the Irvine Auditorium, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. These excellent programs were standing-room only and demonstrated a strong local interest in Monterey Art and History.  The Old Monterey Foundation is planning another lecture series in 2016, dates and subjects to be announced soon. Watch this website for announcements.

Continue reading 2015 in Review


Our fundraiser to restore the historic “Monterey Christmas Angels” on December 5, 2015 was a resounding success. Attendance was estimated to be 120 Angel patrons, including a majority of the Monterey City Council (one of whose children submitted a new Angel for auction). Angels_07Twenty newly painted Angels were displayed around the gathering room at the Museum of Monterey on the Custom House Plaza, and lively interest was displayed in the Angels and in the biographies posted next to each one. All had the same shape and dimensions, but each presented the unique artistic vision of the Artist who graciously donated each Angel. The crowd enjoyed hors d’oeurves, wine and beer amid the lively discussion of individual artistic merits during the Reception preceding the auction.Angels_03Angels_04

Promptly at 7:30 pm, our auctioneer Mike Tryon called attention to the podium for the first piece to be bid on, and the auction was on. Mike is a professional auctioneer from Temecula who volunteered his services to enhance our auction experience, and we are most grateful for his contribution. Angels_06Bidding started a bit slowly but the crowd soon warmed to the spirit of evening. Some favorites quickly appeared and precipitated lively bidding for the rest of the evening. The first bid to go over $500 was the Christmas Angel painted by renowned artist Erin Lee Gadfill, Angels_02which topped out at $750. Continue reading CHRISTMAS ANGEL AUCTION IS RESOUNDING SUCCESS


mc-gives_logo_2015-2The Old Monterey Foundation is pleased to announce that it has been selected as one of 144 non-profit organizations to participate in the annual Monterey County Gives! charitable fundraiser conducted by The Monterey County Weekly.  Last year, MCGives! raised more than $1.3 million for charity and the goal this year is $2 million.

The essence of MC Gives! is to give worthy non-profits exposure and a platform to raise money for a “Big Idea.”  Our Big Idea is the implementation of the Lower Presidio Historic Park according to the 2002 Master Plan, which will turn a largely unknown Park into the popular recreational attraction it should be.  When we have completed Phase I of the implementation, the Park will look like and feel like a historic park to used by residents and visitors alike in the heart of downtown Monterey.

Contributions made to MC Gives!, designated for the benefit of OMF will come to us for use only on the Lower Presidio Historic Park.  If the donation is made as a “challenge grant,” MC Gives! will add some amount from the challenge grant fund of $325,000 to our gift, depending on how much we raise in the total fundraiser.  So the more you give, the more we will receive as your contribution will be leveraged.

$925.00 has been donated as a challenge grant to OMF, as of November 24.  To donate, please go to the Monterey County Gives! website:

Hit the “Donate” button and you will receive instructions as to how you can make your donation by credit card, PayPal, or by check.  Be sure to designate the beneficiary as Old Monterey Foundation and the Lower Presidio Historic Park.


During the night of October 14 -15, 2015, unknown criminals entered the fenced off Father Serra enclosure at the Lower Presidio Historic Park and removed the sculptured head of the Father Junipero Serra Statue.  Presumably a sledge hammer was employed to remove the head, which is  now missing after a search of the surrounding area.  Given the recent publicity for the canonization of Father Serra, this appears to have been a juvenile political statement from one or more persons against the sainthood.



We are pleased to report that our annual Artist event, Art in the Gardens 2015, was an excellent success in line with our past four years of “ART –in-the-ADOBES” programs. The number of participating artists increased this year, as did attendance at the three-day event.

winning artistWinner

The event kicked off on the evening of Friday, September 11 when twenty-two local painters gathered at Venture Gallery to have blank canvases and papers stamped as untouched. A small reception with wine sent them off to paint.

Saturday they scattered among the ten historic gardens of Old Monterey to capture their charms in oil, acrylic, pastel, and watercolor. Volunteer docents stationed in each garden space explained the history and horticulture of each unique space.

The drought-challenged plantings in many areas provided a challenge to the painters, leading to some “artistic license” to bring the flowers back to vibrant life.

On Sunday September 13 the artists gathered in the Sensory Garden to exhibit their new paintings for judging. Volunteer judges John Greenwald, Susan Klusmire, and Patrick O’Dowd deliberated carefully with difficult selections. Awards were announced by noon.


Enjoy Plein Air Painting at Art in the Gardens – September 12 and 13, 2015

The Monterey Peninsula has long been known as source of inspiration for artists of all types and mediums. From the novels of Robert Louis Stevenson and John Steinbeck to the prose of Robinson Jeffers, fans of the written word can walk the same trails and fields that inspired some of literature and poetry’s great masters. While the great names in painting may have called other places home, they, like countless other artists have used this beautiful landscape as their muse.

Carol Gray - artist and instructor Barbara Norton at work

Continue reading Enjoy Plein Air Painting at Art in the Gardens – September 12 and 13, 2015

Opportunity Grant from Community Foundation

Old Monterey Foundation is pleased to announce that the Community Foundation for Monterey County has favorably considered and awarded an Opportunity Grant of $4,000 to OMF for the purpose of raising public awareness for the Lower Presidio Historic Park.  The Grant will pay for an initial public information program about the proposed plan to develop the Historic Park as a phased build out of the 2002 Master Plan.


The 2015 Marcia Devoe Fund Lecture Series: Armin Hansen, November 13


Continuing our well received lecture program from last year, Old Monterey  Foundation is pleased to announce our 2015 Marcia F. DeVoe lectures for July 23, August 7, and November 13,  2015.  All lectures are at 6 – 7:30 p.m. in the Irvine Auditorium, McCone Building, 499 Pierce Street,  Monterey.  Admission is free but plan to come early as we were standing room only during our 2014 lecture series. Continue reading The 2015 Marcia Devoe Fund Lecture Series: Armin Hansen, November 13