President’s Messsage November/December 2015

Barbara Profile ShotThis has been a banner year for the Historical Society and I am thankful for everything our members, volunteers and donors have accomplished. The results of our Fifteenth Annual Home Tour exceeded our expectations, despite the heat on Sunday, October 11. Over five hundred people participated and, with less-than-projected expenses, we have cleared more than $18,000 toward our mission to preserve and share local history with residents and visitors. Our success is directly tied to the guests who attended and the sponsors who underwrote the cost of the tour. We are blessed with volunteers who were generous with their time and their contributions to organize the tour. Please see the Home Tour sponsors, the Home Tour Committee and volunteers featured in this issue and on our web site. If you missed the tour, but would like to learn more and see photos of two of the historic properties on the tour, visit:
For the first time, the home tour featured music and art as part of the city’s October Arts and Humanities Month. The Laura Seeley Studio and Dana Yarger of Breton Fine Art provided an Art and Gift display, along with a colorfully decorated, life-sized baby elephant sculpture to welcome us to the post-tour reception. The Dana Point Symphony and Arturo Echarte of Acoustics for a Change provided live music in three of the homes. Arturo recently thanked us for the opportunity to promote the organization’s Instrument Donation Program. As a result of his music and display at the home tour, guests responded with donations of instruments. Arturo emailed, “We already received a keyboard, a few guitars and a mandolin [for distribution to students who cannot afford them]. Even in the heat it was a beautiful venue to play and a great group of volunteers.”
As many of you know, the Calle Maria home, once owned by well-known antiquarian Gep Durenberger was one of six properties featured on our home tour. On the day following the tour, I received an email from Rick Morgan, whose mother, Glorea, became a friend of Gep’s when she attended his Decorative Arts seminars at the property’s unique “folly.” Unknown to us on the day of the tour, Gephard Durenberger, 79, had passed away on October 1, at his home in Henderson, Minnesota. Gep’s former Capistrano Beach home, with its charming Doheny cottage, picturesque gardens and the folly, is a tribute to his talent and his memory, a treasure generously shared by current owner Eric Guenther. The Historic Homes and Hidden Treasures of Capistrano Beach was, and will continue to be, a celebration of the Capistrano Beach community, from the Doheny era to the present.
As mentioned in the last issue, our August 1 collaboration with the Ocean Institute in celebration of Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s 200th Birthday supported the Adopt-A-Class Program at the Ocean Institute. Dori Moorehead, President and Chief Executive Officer, thanked us for working together with the City of Dana Point to make the donation, and Shira Greenbaum, the program’s manager, has promised to be in touch when “our adopted students” are scheduled for their overnight on the brig Pilgrim. I hope you feel as I do that Dana would have enjoyed his birthday party and this gift to the children from those who organized, volunteered and attended our Dana Bicentennial program.
September’s Toshiba Tall Ships Festival again provided the opportunity for our volunteers to share Dana Point history at a new DPHS booth location near the brig Pilgrim. We also shared space with the Hobie Memorial Committee, whose members are in the process of raising public support for a Hobie Alter Memorial in the City of Dana Point. Maritime historian Bob Minty, the Ocean Institute and the Historical Society also combined efforts to provide an interesting maritime history exhibit in the Samueli Conference Center during the tall ships weekend.
On September 16th, we again collaborated with the Ocean Institute for our fall meeting when more than 80 members and guests listened as Jeffrey Amestoy presented his new biography, Slavish Shore: The Odyssey of Richard Henry Dana Jr. Many brought or purchased books from the Ocean Institute Gift Shop and patiently waited for the author to autograph their copy after his talk. Amestoy impressed us with the significance of Dana’s advocacy and his legal work, including before the Supreme Court as related to Lincoln’s Civil War powers. Amestoy presented the Historical Society with a signed copy of his book, in appreciation for our help in launching Slavish Shore. We were fortunate to have retired Vermont Chief Justice Amestoy share his insight on Dana’s extraordinary life and we have invited him to return this April for the community reading of Two Years Before the Mast.
I look forward to Sunday, December 6, when we officially conclude our Year of Dana. Supervisor Lisa Bartlett will officiate at the dedication of the Dana Bicentennial plaque, in recognition of our namesake and in appreciation of the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society members who raised the funds for the Dana statue installed in 1972. Let’s join in a toast to Richard Henry Dana Jr. at the Holiday Museum Reception after the dedication!

Barbara Force Johannes

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