May 10, 2012 (San Diego)--Without warning, Captain S. F. Adams evicted the award-winning Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation from Naval Base Point Loma, just after stopping City buses from entering the base. The all-volunteer museum charged the Navy nothing for 30-years of public service. Abruptly, the Navy hired a private contractor to store the artifacts in a vault 30-miles north in San Pasqual Valley. News of the eviction was announced at the 34th Annual Battle of San Diego Bay Fiesta on Sunday, April 29, 2012.
In 1981, the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation electrified America and San Diego in with the archaeology discovery of a lost 18th century Spanish cannon fort on Ballast Point. Media wire services reported the exciting discovery around the world the summer of 1981. Spanish government authorities met with Navy officials to learn more of the finds.
Since 1981, the museum privately financed research and public educational programs in cooperation with the U.S. Navy. According to Ronald V. May, Chairman of the Board of the Fort Guijarros Museum, “The Navy and tax-payers never paid a cent for our all volunteer services over the past 30-years.” We organized retired military, senior citizens, industry specialists, teachers, and students to develop traveling museum exhibits, educational programs, and public tours of 100-year old U.S. Army artillery batteries and buildings.
While on the Navy Base, the Fort Guijarros Museum assisted the Navy avoid expensive contract archaeology during construction of the Harbor Inn catering building, Navy Security building, and Slattery Hall BOQ. These all volunteer projects saved the United States Government over $1,000,000 over the past 30-years.
“The Navy and Fort Guijarros Museum entered a cooperative agreement in 1999 to care for those collections recovered during construction and share the discoveries with the American public. At no cost to the Navy, the museum exhibited the artifacts at Point Loma High School, the County Administration Building at 1600 Pacific Highway, the 4th Grade Elementary School program in Old Town, and on the Navy Base.
“The Navy won a series of civilian and international awards over the past 30-years for this outstanding educational program,” said May, who has sent a letter to the Navy questioning the action. These included awards from the Government of Spain, SOHO, the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, Society for California Archaeology, and Congressional commendations.
In 1989, the King of Spain authorized the Spanish Consul of Spain in Los Angeles to bestow Knight’s Officer, Order of Civil Merit to Ronald V. May.
The City of San Diego awarded a Preservation Award to the Navy for restoration of a 1943 U.S. Army Fort Rosecrans artillery building in 2010.
The County of San Diego awarded a Commendation Award to the Navy and Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation for public educational programs benefiting school children and for tours of Fort Rosecrans buildings.
SOHO awarded several Preservation Awards to the Navy for opening Naval Base Point Loma to the public for bus tours to World War 2 artillery batteries and the Fort Rosecrans Historic District.
Congress bestowed Letters of Commendationto the Navy and Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation. Letters from former Congressman Bill Lowrey, Randy “Duke” Cunningham, and Senator Diane Feinstein recognized this unique cooperative program.
Among the unique educational programs, retired teacher Susan Floyd developed the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation “Young Archaeologist Program” for disadvantaged elementary school students at Naval Base Point Loma. Navy sailors brought the kids to the base in military buses. The students experienced hands-on study of Spanish pottery, bricks, and bronze square nails.
In 1988, Captain Phil Klintworh called upon the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation to volunteer its services to conduct archaeology testing at the proposed site of a new U.S. Coast Guard office and the Harbor Inn catering building. At no cost to the U.S. Government, the museum sent out a field crew that discovered the 1860 site of a Yankee whaling station, Chinese fishing camp, and 1890 U.S. Lighthouse.
In 1990, Captain Paul Ward assigned Building 127, a 1940 handball court, to the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation so the artifact collections could be analyzed and cared for at no cost. The museum donated over 10,000 hours of free volunteer service to cleaning, computer cataloguing, and packaging the 400 boxes of over 250,000 artifacts, food bones, and Spanish tiles.
In 1995, Captain David Stanley assigned Building 257, a 1940 vintage underground Igloo bunker built as a morgue for the U.S. Army Fort Rosecrans Hospital. Previously, Captain Ward authorized adapting the morgue to a climate control artifact storage bunker. The Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation donated a free sent of plans to meet federal curation laws (36 CFR 79.9). At the time, this was the only qualified curation facility in San Diego.
In 1996, Captain Bruce Scott received the officers and cadets of the Spanish training ship, Juan Sebastian Elcano at a commemoration dinner at the Harbor Inn in honor of Spain’s military fort on Point Loma. Spain honored the Navy with letters of commendation. Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham and the County Board of Supervisors issued commendations to the Navy.
Captain Stanley dedicated the building in honor of Fred and Mary Buchanan at the July 1995 opening ceremony. Fred Buchanan lost his eye fighting the Japanese Army in the China Burma Campaign in 1944, retired from Navy Public Works, and volunteered to design the cold storage bunker for the Spanish artifacts. Mary Buchanan died of cancer just prior to the dedication.
In 1999, Captain Wayne Thornton signed the historic Cooperative Research Agreement between the Navy and Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation to expand public educational programs for the Navy and greater San Diego community. This CRA authorized educational programs, public tours of the Fort Rosecrans Historic District, and annual fund raising dinners at the Harbor Inn, Oceanview Club, and Argonaut Hall.
In 2005, the Fort Guijarros Museum completed a computerized catalogue of 250,000 artifacts, food bones, and fort wall tiles. The Society for California Archaeology awarded the prestigious Helen Smith Award.
In 2008, Captain Mark Patton authorized public educational tours of the Fort Rosecrans Historic District. The Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation developed an all volunteer docent program to greet the public at historic buildings dating from 1898 to 1940. Retired military, senior citizens, and other volunteers wore bright red t-shirts to identify themselves (www.fortguijarros.com) and educate the public. Captain Paul Marconi continued those public tours in 2009.
SOHO organized the public tours of the Fort Rosecrans Historic District from 2008-1010. The Navy authorized the Old Town Trolley to bring the public to the base, where they met the Navy Public Affairs Officer and then the Fort Guijarros Museum docents.
Since 1981, Spanish dancing, theatrical performances and cultural exhibits were featured at fundraising dinners at Naval Base Point Loma to raise money to finance the program for the Navy. Navy MWR catered most of these events, though members of the Spanish American community often cooked traditional paella at special events.
In 2009, Captain Mark Patton authorized a 1940s style Swing Dance to be held in the Fort Rosecrans Historic District. World War 2 re-enactors dressed up in U.S. military uniforms, Red Cross uniforms, and period civilian clothing to swing dance to the tunes of “Big Band Entertainers.” Active Armed Forces members were sold discount tickets. The Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation paid for the band, provided free decorations, and donated popcorn and cakes.
Volunteers from the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation were in the process of cataloguing 16,000 photographic images of archaeology, cultural events, and the public education tours and dances when Captain Adams abruptly terminated the CRA in 2011.
Captain Adams provided no explanation for the termination and no warning of the eviction. He gave notice on November 10, 2011 and the museum had 90-days to remove their private property and turn in the keys.
“I did not see that coming,” said retired Navy commander and Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation co-founder and board vice chairman John C. Hinkle.
“We are in total shock and could believe what happened,” said May, co-founder and board chairman. “Captain Adams did not even have the courtesy to say ‘thank you’ for 30-years of free public service to the Navy and American public.”
“The Navy should have awarded the Fort Guijarros Museum with a civilian commendation for 30-years of public service and saving the American public over $1,000,000 in free services. Instead, we were humiliated,” said May.
The Navy should have provided 1-year notice, held a series of public stakeholder meetings, and helped transition the collection to the private contractor in San Pasqual Valley.
Members of the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation volunteered their cars and trucks to haul private property away from Naval Base Point Loma. Vice Chair Hinkle supervised the transport of museum property to a rented office.
Privately owned museum supplies, archaeology equipment, original artwork, field notes and photographs are being donated to San Diego State University.
This includes eight original watercolor paintings of the 18th century Spanish fort, Yankee whaling station, and Chinese fishing camp that were donated to the College of Arts & Letters. These paintings link to professional publications that the Department of Anthropology re-published Online in their State Occasional Archaeology Papers.
One original watercolor painting is donated to Casa de España for exhibit in the International Village in Balboa Park. “The Spanish government financed fine artist Jay Wegter to create this painting, so transfer to Casa de Espana is appropriate,” said May.
By December 2012, all property of the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation will be distributed to other educational and non-profit organizations in San Diego.