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Friday, September 19, 2008


The following is a reprint of a letter to the editor of the Daily News from Gerald Fecht, President of the Museum of the San Fernando Valley: August 28, 2008

The Museum Community of the San Fernando Valley lives on a psychological roller coaster; on one hand we experience the loss of historic treasures and on the other the thrill of preservation's success.

Just months ago our Valley lost to a midnight wrecking ball, the oldest home in Van Nuys. A massive development at this very time threatens to overwhelm the priceless historic dignity of Campo de Cahuenga - the very place where American became a nation from sea-to-shining-sea.

There are, on the other hand, thrilling victories for history's preservation today and future
generations as well. The grand old Weddington House, the mother-house of North Hollywood and Toluca Lake, has been rescued from a cross-town move out of the Valley to the Arroyo Seco. At this time, plans are being completed to move the Weddington to its new home at an unused corner of North Hollywood Park. Now, we have learned that the great old Phil's Diner will be preserved and revitalized as an integral part of the NoHo Commons dev. project.

Rescuing historic structures and artifacts is a great thing, but coming up with the money to pay for repairs and restoration is another - especially in today's economy. Casey Hollenbeck, the owner of Phil's Diner is quoted in the Daily News as having to come up with $1.5 million to launch the beloved old dining car.

Those of us working to bring about The Museum of the San Fernando Valley are often told, "this just isn't the time to create a museum." Is this the best time to save Phil's Diner? You bet it is! As historians, we like to remind folks that the United States of America was created in the bleak winter of Valley Forge, when the Continental Congress was flat bloke. Alaska was purchased in the middle of the Civil War and many of the greatest social achievements in our country's history came about the end of the great depression.

When is the best time to preserve the heritage of the San Fernando Valley? You guessed it; right now.

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