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Maria Elena Serna: Lodi Historical Society committed to preserving history

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Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 3:30 pm

I’m writing this column regarding the surprising and alarming recent events regarding Hill House Museum.

The Lodi Historical Society was chartered in December 1988 at the Women’s Club in Lodi. After three years of grass roots community organizing among friends and neighbors, we became known as “the history buffs.”

We believed firmly that not that only did we have an interest and passion, but a civic duty and responsibility to preserve the history of Lodi and show an appreciation for its many beautiful sites, parks and buildings and to leave a lasting and a positive legacy for future generations.

This huge endeavor included countless meetings in our community, presentations before the Lodi City Council and meetings with other preservation groups in and around our region. All the while, everyday people, professionals, students, as well as businesses joined the LHS.

In the fall of 1988, we filed all required legal documents with the Secretary of State and the California Franchise Tax Board.

That was 29 years ago. In the beginning of our founding, we led community supported drives to save the now beautifully restored Lodi Train Depot and Carnegie Library; now Carnegie Forum — our Council Chambers.

Since then, we have been engaged in furthering historical preservation by bringing educational awareness to our community by raising funds through the many events and activities that we have organized; such as Founders’ Day, an annual ice cream social, LHS Summer Picnic, monthly historical public presentations. We established a quarterly publication, Historian.

We also organized a docent program to provide weekend public tours and a Christmas open house at the Hill House Museum. We have plaqued over a dozen sites in Lodi, including schools, buildings, parks, the Lodi Arch, Lincoln School, the Hinode General Store in Japan Town, and most recently the Lodi Park and Memorial Cemetery.

Major restoration, repairing, refurbishing and daily maintenance of the Hill House has been our most time consuming and expensive endeavor. It has taken hundreds of community volunteer hours and thousands of dollars which have included the following: Re-roofing, painting the home three times, purchasing of specially made period window shades, repairing the back porch and landscaping the entire property to mention just a few improvements.

The expenses were in some instances lessened because we have wonderful and committed volunteers with various skills and talents such as carpenters, builders, landscapers, and painters. It is without question that the mere notion that LHS somehow withheld or failed to provide funds raised for Hill House is not only slanderous but plain and simple ... absurd.

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to give everyone our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for your continued and generous support and participation of our community through its history.

We remain committed to our vision: “to Promote, Protect and Preserve the History of the City of Lodi.”

Maria Elena Serna is a longtime member of the Lodi Historical Society and was the Lodi Historical Society’s Charter President in 1988.

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