Plan for Castro-Breen Adobe absurd

When history runs up against the MTV generation’s quest for
knowledge, what do you get? Nothing.
When history runs up against the MTV generation’s quest for knowledge, what do you get? Nothing.

And that’s exactly what the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s plan to transform the historic Castro-Breen Adobe into an interpretative interactive center amounts to.

The rehabilitation plan would turn the adobe, located in San Juan Bautista, into a hands-on exhibit featuring everything from life-sized cut-outs of the Breens, reproductions of artifacts, “push-me” educational graphic panels and barrier-free displays. And as of yesterday, nearly $1.65 million has been appropriated for the project scheduled to begin in the summer.

While the plan has good intentions, to create an environment that maybe more conducive for young children to learn:

“Our largest audience is fourth-graders, so we need to stay-up-to-date on what is interesting and engaging to them, and what they need to learn in school today,” said C.L. Price, Gavilan Sector superintendent, which includes SJB’s State Historic Park – it’s an easy way out for education.

Children and adults can go to tech museums that feature hands-on attractions for educational purposes or to interpretative interactive re-creations of historical sites to learn of the past. Those are built for that purpose – to involve people. They can log on and learn just about anything on any subject surfing the ‘Net.

However, history – the real thing – must be preserved, not trampled on. Historical sites have always had a place in our nation, our state and our county – kept alive in the flavor of the era for the purpose of learning and enlightening both the young and old.

The Breen family was among the Donner Party, who left Iowa for California in 1846 as part of the Western Migration. The Breens were the only family still intact from the year-long journey when they arrived in San Juan Bautista, where the adobe was their actual home. This is history. This is part of our future.

The state’s plan is flawed and lacks respect for the Castro-Breen Adobe’s place in the history of SJB and in history taught across America, as nearly 30 residents stated in a letter to representatives in Washington.

The SJB City Council earlier this week unanimously approved to send a resolution to the state opposing the plan.

The state’s plan shouldn’t be a part of the Castro-Breen Adobe, nor does it belong anywhere in SJB, a city of history. The plan has been called “tacky.” It’s something one would find next to the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.

And because of the recent uproar and public input, on Thursday, the robotic animals proposed by consultants have been eliminated.

But it’s not enough. To oppose the plan, write city hall in SJB. Write to City Council. Write the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Write project manager Charles Mikell or e-mail: [email protected]

Because when you step into the adobe in its current state, you experience a sense of walking back in time, untouched.

With the state’s proposed plan, history maybe learned, but history will be lost forever.

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