Preston Castle Halloween Haunt!

Love haunted houses and want to support a great cause? Then make a trip to Ione and visit the Preston Castle Halloween Haunt!

Preston Castle (formerly the Preston School of Industry) has been featured on Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures and we would like to extend the invitation for you to come experience Northern California’s only “REAL” Haunted House! The Preston Castle will be having special tours the two weekends before Halloween, October 19th, 20th, 26th, and 27th.

This is a fun “scare” tour and not a historical tour of the entire Castle. It will be a new path through the Castle this year. A children’s fair with games and fun activities will be available until 9 pm for younger kids not going on the scare tour.

Gates open at 6:00 pm, first scare tour at 6:30 pm. Order tickets according to which night you want to attend. Tickets are limited for each night, so order early to make sure you can get in.

Proceeds of the event benefit the Preston Castle Foundation whose mission is to “preserve, rehabilitate, and utilize the historic Preston Castle site.” This organization has been working tirelessly to save this unique California resource. They have numerous fundraising events throughout the year and regularly give tours of this amazing building.

Garavaglia Architecture, Inc. has been working with the Foundation since 2006 on planning for the eventual reuse of the structure and compound. We encourage you to support this worthy organization and help save the Castle!

Watson School Re-Dedication and Open House

Garavaglia Architecture, Inc. was honored to have participated in the re-dedication and open house for the National Register-listed Watson School located in rural Sonoma County. The event, held on July 30, 2012, celebrated the completion of the multi-year restoration efforts aimed at re-opening the structure to the public.

The Watson School is a one-room schoolhouse located on Bodega Highway, near the Town of Bodega in Sonoma County, California. Built in 1856 on land donated by James Watson, the school served the communities of Bodega, Freestone, and Valley Ford. Watson School has the distinction of being the only one-room schoolhouse in public ownership within Sonoma County that remains on its original site. It is also believed to be the longest operating one-room school in California’s public school history, having served the local community for more than 111 years (1856-1967).

Garavaglia Architecture, Inc. got involved with the project in 2008 when we were retained by the Sonoma County Department of Parks to prepare a Historic Structures Report (HSR). This report was commissioned to address the immediate and long-term needs for the building in a prioritized manner to allow fundraising for discrete projects.

Through the generous actions of a private donor, the rehabilitation of the structure was made possible. Garavaglia Architecture, Inc. was further retained to work with the client-selected structural engineer on this rehabilitation project. Our HSR was used as a guide to determine the most effective use of the donated funds, address building deficiencies, and expand the scope to include accessibility compliance.

The re-dedication and open house celebrated the completion of these projects that helped to preserve this important structure that served the community for over a century. As a part of the ceremony, Garavaglia Architecture, Inc.’s Preservation Services Manager, Becky Urbano, was invited to speak about the history of the structure and its role in the history of the area and greater Sonoma County. While the interior of the building is not currently open to the public, we invite you to visit the park where you can view this structure and learn more about its history.

Reformation of Federal Transportation Laws and Impacts to Historic Resources: Call to Action

Congress is currently debating legislation to reform federal transportation laws, and unless they hear from concerned citizens, there is a chance that historic preservation programs will be eliminated.

Some members of Congress have proposed eliminating the Transportation Enhancement program, which enables states and communities to use a small portion of their federal transportation dollars on projects such as the preservation of historic transportation facilities, rehabilitation and operation of historic transportation buildings, and the preservation of abandoned railway corridors for use as pedestrian or bicycle trails. The elimination of the Transportation Enhancement program will not save a dime of taxpayer money, as the funds will be shifted to road building or other purposes. But it would end a successful program that saves historic spaces, enhances communities, and creates jobs.

As it stands now, there are several other provisions on the table that could have a profound and negative impact upon our historic places by:

  • Categorically exempting certain transportation projects from historic or environmental reviews or substituting weaker protections
  • Drastically reducing funding for preservation projects currently permitted via the Transportation Enhancements program, and
  • Establishing arbitrary deadlines to force the automatic approval of complex projects

Historic resources related to transportation have been in a precarious situation for a while, especially railroad related resources. In 2010, Oakland lost the last building associated with the terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad, the 1874 Southern Pacific Car Paint Shop. Numerous local groups and the National Trust for Historic Preservation Western Regional Office lobbied to save this important ‘last of its kind’ resource. Union Pacific went ahead an demolished the building, citing exemption from state and local preservation review laws, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) based on their interpretation of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) regulations which retains exclusive jurisdiction only over railroad facilities that are “integrally related to the railroad’s provision of interstate rail service.” We believed that this building should not have been subject to STB, as the retention of the unused structure would in no way have interfered with interstate commerce, but they interpreted it otherwise.

With the situation already precarious, we must not let any further eroding of protections for these types of resources to pass. Numerous organizations, including the National Trust’s Preservation Action and AIA are lobbying to get their members to take action. Please act now to tell Congress not to eliminate these programs.

For more information on the transportation proposal visit:

To sign the AIA petition