A Click a Day Can
Help Richmond, We Say
September 23, 2006
Please read the story below from today’s West County Times about how you can help win hundreds of thousands of dollars for two Richmond public projects simply by spending about 15 seconds each day casting an Internet vote on your computer. Here is all you have to do:
That’s all there is to it. You can vote once each day with each email address you use. Both projects need your votes, so please alternate between them every day. Both projects are unique and particularly important because they will be used by Richmond kids. In addition to including an historical interpretive center, the Maritime Child Care Center will be an active pre-school facility serving families in the Nystrom School neighborhood.
Please distribute this to your friends as widely as possible and urge them to participate. If you click on “Participate” (http://www.partnersinpreservation.com/index.php?sec=par), you can automatically send an email to others.
Historic buildings need votes Public can help win money for the Plunge, Maritime center
If you're a fan of Richmond's rich architectural history, all you need is access to a computer to help one of two prized buildings win critical grant money and national acclaim.
The Maritime Child Care Center and the Richmond Municipal Natatorium -- affectionately known as "the Plunge" -- are among 25 historical Bay Area sites in the running for a cut of $1 million.
The American Express Partners in Preservation program will grant up to $100,000 to as many as 10 historical sites, which will be chosen by committee and announced in mid-November. But the public gets a chance to weigh in as well: Through Oct. 31, anyone can vote, up to once a day, for their favorite buildings by going online to www.partnersinpreservation.com, where there is also extensive information about all 25 Bay Area sites.
According to the Web site's running tally, the child care center and the Plunge need all the votes they can get -- the Plunge was in 14th place and the child care center was lagging at 19th on Friday. Leading the pack are popular landmarks such as the Angel Island Immigration Station, the Fox Theatre in Oakland and the Berkeley's Tilden Park carousel.
"I've been calling and e-mailing everybody I can think of to get them to vote for the child center and the Plunge," said Richmond Councilman Tom Butt, who has done a great deal of preservation work in the city. "I would really love to see the public get behind these incredible resources and boost them up to first and second place."
The buildings, the only two selected from Contra Costa County, easily qualify as historical heavies, according to the Western Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which helped select the 25 sites. Having two spots on the list is the latest of a growing number of accolades for Richmond's wealth of historical sites.
The Maritime Child Care Center was the first publicly funded child care facility in the United States. Built 63 years ago as a nursery school, the center is an integral part of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Park.
The center was specifically designed to support the thousands of women who worked in the Kaiser Shipyards as welders, machinists, mechanics, draftswomen, pipe fitters and boilermakers during World War II.
It was a state-of-the-art facility that used the latest theories in child development so that Rosies could have piece of mind while they worked long hours in the shipyards. The center's staff included nutritionists, psychiatrists and certified teachers.
"This was no baby-sitting service," said Lucy Lawliss, a National Park cultural resource manager. "The maritime center was to be a demonstration of all that could be done with child care."
The building has a spare, modernist design and could accommodate up to 180 preschoolers, making it the largest child care facility in the nation, according to a historical review of the site. The center's main building is like a time capsule, with bed cubicles and war era toys still in place.
If the center receives a Partners in Preservation grant, the money will go toward bringing the building up to code and preserving its historical features.
"Then, we are going to create a museum exhibiting original artifacts that were used in the classrooms," Lawliss said.
The Richmond Plunge is also a Bay Area favorite. Built in 1926, the grand, two-story natatorium was a state-of-the-art public facility. The building boasts a 160-foot-long, 60-foot-wide warm-water pool, a fountain, observation balconies and an open-truss ceiling similar to those at San Francisco's Sutro Baths.
"The Plunge really shows how foresighted our forefathers were," said Ellie Strauss, who serves as executive director of the Save the Richmond Plunge Trust. "When they floated the bonds to build the Plunge back in 1925, it was a huge venture, a huge risk. I would like to see that kind of thinking continue into the future."
Besides its architectural excellence, the Plunge served as a community gathering place for people of all races and economic levels. The building holds a special place in the hearts of generations of Bay Area residents who learned to swim there, Strauss said.
"I swam there for 30 years, our kids learned to swim there and learned CPR, lifeguarding skills," Strauss said. "It's a huge community unifier. I made friends there from all over Richmond."
The Plunge was deemed seismically unsafe and closed in 2001. If the building is awarded grant money, it will go toward an estimated $5 million rehabilitation project that will allow the Plunge to open its doors again.
"The Plunge has been a great place, and it will be again, believe me," Strauss said.
In the last year, Richmond has begun to receive recognition for its historical resources. In May, the California Cultural and Historical Endowment announced a series of grants for the Plunge, maritime center and Winters Building. Local television stations have discovered Richmond's rich history and have recently aired programs featuring the SS Red Oak Victory ship, the Ford Assembly Plant and Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Park.
"I've been telling people for years that Richmond is awash in cultural and historical resources," Butt said. "It's one of our community's principal assets, and a lot of people are beginning to realize it."
Contact John Geluardi at 510-262-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org