SPParks provides funds for many park improvements as the need arises. Some recent examples:
- A water clarification system for the pond at the Vallejo Home
- An audio system for the Mission Chapel
- A flat-screen TV display for the Barracks A/V room
- New chairs for the Barracks A/V room
- New street sign for the Toscano Hotel
SPParks also has taken on a long-term project requiring major capital investment. Since 2014 SPParks has obtained grants and contributions for the restoration of the walls of the Petaluma Adobe. As the work progresses new needs are identified and we foresee a continuing need to raise funds.
Petaluma Adobe Restoration
In 2012, when closure of many of our state parks was threatened due to a presumed budget shortfall, SPParks ran a successful fund-raising campaign that enabled us to enter a Donor Agreement with State Parks to keep the Petaluma Adobe open for two years. With that new responsibility the Association formed a committee to investigate the condition of the building and see what could be done to improve visitation. It became clear that the two-story building, the largest adobe structure in northern California, was in a serious state of deterioration.
The Association retained Gil Sanchez FAIA, a leading expert in adobe reconstruction and preservation, for a Building Assessment Survey. The Sonoma County Landmarks Commission provided funds to match the $7,500 provided by SPParks for the study that was received in May, 2013. A cost between $236,929 and $320,551 was estimated to repair, plaster, and whitewash approximately 14,300 square feet of exterior adobe walls and 3,600 square feet of interior walls. Due to reduced maintenance levels over many years, damage from wildlife and the elements had resulted in serious deterioration. Birds (mostly flickers) created holes each spring to access interior spaces where they constructed nests. These entries were then used by bats who also nested in the walls. The recommendation was to fill all holes created by wildlife, and to apply a protective coat of adobe mud to preserve the walls from the elements and wildlife.
SPParks organized and funded a demonstration project in 2014, using CCC youth and volunteers, to fill the holes with adobe mud along one length of wall. In 2015 the Sonoma Landmarks Commission provided funds to assist with the first major phase of plastering walls on the east side. Conducted under the guidance of Gil Sanchez, State Parks maintenance crews and volunteers provided two coats and a “finished” slurry seal coating on the walls on the east side of the facility (both stories) in June, 2016.
Additionally, it was found some walls need structural upgrades to stabilize them from separating from the main building. Before any further protective coats of adobe are applied, corrective action should take place to walls identified as hazardous. With input from structural engineers, Mr. Sanchez identified these areas and courses of action:
Project Area #1 is a cantilevered porch that is stabilized by one deteriorating wing wall and some wood beams. Possible courses of action are: (1) Shore up the cantilevered section with jacks for a temporary fix ($17,739); (2) Construct a new adobe brick wall reinforced with steel rods (approximately $85,590- $90,000). SPParks identifies this area as the most critical, and the preferred action is construction of a supporting wall.
Project Area #2 is identified as room 102 (Entrada) but also includes the upstairs area (Vallejo’s living quarters). Both floors are shifting, settling to the south (towards Adobe Road). This project is too extensive and expensive for SPParks and requires State Parks attention. (approximately $180,000)
Project Area #3 is identified as room 105 (On the east side of the Adobe), but also includes the second story (room 205). This area requires structural stabilization of the corners of the rooms with long fiberglass rods and epoxy installed in the walls, followed by finishing coats of adobe mud (approximately $46,000).
To date SPParks has spent approximately $33,000 in design and engineering costs. Grants received in the amount of $20,500 would be used for construction. The Native Sons of the Golden West has expressed interest in continuing financial support for the preservation of Petaluma Adobe. State Parks staff have identified a new grant funding source for restorative projects such as the Adobe. SPParks is hopeful that the new State Parks grant program can move the Petaluma Adobe restoration project forward. SPParks will make ever effort to remind the State of their responsibility to preserve this important piece of California history.