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Arts and culture

"When we have an opportunity to preserve history, increase access and support a grassroots community effort, it reinforces our sense of connection and our mutual understanding."

– Supervisor Simitian

Preserving historical treasures

The Santa Clara County Historic Resources Grant Program was established by the Board of Supervisors in June of 2018 in response to a proposal by County Supervisor Joe Simitian. The purpose of the program is to acknowledge and preserve the history of Santa Clara County, with a preference for projects that acknowledge and celebrate untold stories. Projects funded in District Five include restoration of the Roth Building which will be the future home of the Palo Alto History Museum; improvements, restoration and repair at Hakone Estate and Garden in Saratoga; historical maintenance of the Montalvo Arts Center; and more. 

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Hakone Estate and Gardens

While the County’s primary focus is appropriately centered on maintaining a social safety net for those in need, from time to time the Board of Supervisors is able to make funds available for historic and cultural preservation. For Hakone Estate and Garden in Saratoga, County support has meant restoration to the Mon (Main Gate) roof, improvements to the beautiful tea ceremony rooms, as well as restoration and repair of the pond filtration system and garden pathways. 

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Roth Building

The Roth Building in downtown Palo Alto City was built in 1932 and is “a signature example” of architect Birge M. Clark, who is credited with establishing the city’s Mediterranean look and feel. Through a partnership with the City of Palo Alto, Supervisor Simitian has led County efforts to support the renovation of the historic building. Once renovated, the Roth Building will be the home of the future Palo Alto History Museum. County-funded restoration projects include conserving the 1932 Arnautoff Frescoes, repairing the building’s original clay tile roof, and restoring an original 1940s Otis three-level traction elevator. 

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Montalvo Arts Center

Located on 175 acres in Saratoga, the Montalvo Arts Center includes a historic villa, eleven artist residences, indoor and outdoor performance and exhibition venues, lush gardens, and hiking trails that wind through redwood forests. Outdoor access is available in partnership with the County Parks and Recreation Department which leases and manages the trails and parking lots for public use. County historical heritage funding has supported the exterior rehabilitation of the historic villa doors and iron lanterns. Supervisor Simitian championed expanded community access to Montalvo Arts Center and an increased focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. 

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Pacific Art League Program for Bill Wilson Center

The Pacific Art League (PAL) provides high-quality art education and activities for the public, but art can be more than a hobby or a pastime. Substantial evidence supports the therapeutic benefits of art education as an emotional release and a creative thinking catalyst. With traditional school subjects, art education can also enhance the level of all learning. To increase the number of recipients who could take advantage of their programs, Supervisor Simitian recommended funding for a PAL partnership with the Bill Wilson Center. PAL art educators work with youth in crisis at three Bill Wilson Center sites, allowing County clients the therapeutic benefits of making art.​ 

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