The Housing Authority of the
County of Kern with the assistance
exteriors of the two smaller buildings at the camp have been restored.
(Buildings being moved is shown below.) This included the moving of the
buildings to the area within the historic park, joining the larger Community
Hall within the fenced area, new foundations and new roofs. The windows still
need new glass panes, and the renovation of the interiors has not been
undertaken. We hope to find a documentary source for the interiors, bur so
far have only memories of former tenants to go by. The exterior paint
replicates the original, of which we found chips remaining under all the later
coats. This is visible progress toward our goal of a historic park with an
information center housing the Dust Bowl Collection available to the public on a
New cabins for the migrant workers. The camp has had a grand re-opening. Doris
Weddell writes "You would not believe how beautiful it is. The streets
are all paved, with curbs and gutters, fire hydrants, underground utilities,
all new landscaping , and lots of new trees. Even the parking area
outside the gate is paved. The tenant housing is beautiful, and is permanent,
stick-built construction, with regular foundations, etc. There were all
kinds of state dignitaries at the camp, as this appears to be the pearl in
their chain of facilities. I learned, that in the state, there are 26
housing developments for farm workers."
7-18-04: A $5,000 donation from the Kern Refinery has been received with a second installment of the same amount to come in January. Thank you Kern Refinery.
6-14-04: Photos have arrived.
5-6-04: "Good news!!!.....The first step in the restoration process has actually begun. The two small building were moved last week, to their new spots within the historic park, where the community hall has always been. I saw them yesterday, and they are way up in the air, so foundations can be added. In my mind, I can see it all finished, and it is very exciting. I know that the process does not move quickly, and there may be long periods between processes, but it has begun.
The Community Hall remains the centerpiece of the historic park area, which has always been delineated by the fence around the hall. The only difference is that the two smaller buildings are now located within that fenced area. This gives us what will be a park-like area, with the information center in the hall. We plan on a restroom building and picnic area and whatever else it takes to make it ready for public access. The moving of the two small buildings marks the beginning of the restoration process. It's been 25 years since we started down this road." - Doris Weddell
2-23-04: A $315,000 grant from the Housing Authority has been received. With our $35,000, that gives us $350,000, which is enough to get started. March 30th at 11 am, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony. They will start with the foundations for the two little buildings, within the historic park area surrounding the community hall. Then the two buildings will be moved to that area. This will give the heritage area its own legal description and consolidate the restoration to one area of the camp.
The camp itself is now absolutely beautiful, as the new cabins are all finished. There are PAVED streets, curbs, fire hydrants, and all new landscaping. The day care center is state-of-the-art.
Tours with a presentation at the community hall, showing old pictures, etc. is available. Contact person is Doris Weddell 661-832-1299.
7-1-02: Fund raising for the restoration continues. We have approaching $30,000 and need $500,000 for the restoration, plus endowment for the ongoing public use of the historic park which will include an Information Center in the old Community Hall.
The three buildings: a community hall, library, and post office, are currently located near Lamont, on the site of the Sunset Migrant Housing Center, at 8701 Sunset Boulevard, and are presently in a very deteriorated state. If action is not taken soon to preserve them, this part of our local history will be lost.
According to Mr. Carter, the project will involve the creation of a small historic park to display the buildings as well as to serve as a convenient setting for the numerous school children and other visitors who tour this site each year. In addition, each building will be restored to his original condition in the 1930s.
Many prominent local citizens either lived at the Arvin Government Camp themselves or had relatives who resided there. This camp also served as the inspiration for the 'Weedpatch Camp,' which figured so prominently in John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath.
It is anticipated that the total cost of
the project will be approximately $500,000. Efforts are underway to obtain
one-half of this amount from a State of California grant. However, the
other half of the cost must be funded from local donations. Anyone
interested in contributing to this important project may contact Randy Coats at
(661) 631-8500 extension 2105.