California Cultural and Historical Endowment

The California Cultural and Historical Endowment (the Endowment) was established at the California State Library in 2003 when then-Governor Gray Davis signed AB 716 (Firebaugh) (PDF) | (HTML) The Legislature intended the CCHE to raise the profile and scope of California's historic and cultural preservation program in an era of cultural homogeneity and dwindling historic structures. CCHE grants have helped to preserve the many historic treasures that are California's cultural legacy. These sparkling jewels belong to all of us collectively and convey important lessons about opportunity, hardship, innovation, injustice, perseverance, and redemption. Peer inside the CCHE jewel box at and discover the hidden gems of California's past, now preserved for generations to come.

In 2011, the CCHE published Preserving California's Treasures to showcase the 180 capital projects and planning grants funded by the CCHE. CCHE no longer has any copies of the first printing available to sell directly, but a limited number of copies are available at two retail outlets: The Pasadena Museum of History and The San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation. To purchase a copy from the Pasadena Museum of History, call (626) 577-1660. To purchase a copy from the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation, call (858) 966-1308. CCHE is working to produce a second run of the publication due to the demand.

Since 2010, CCHE has been collaborating with leaders from several statewide preservation organizations and has played a central role in the development of an ongoing program called Landmarks California: the Places of our Diverse Histories and Cultures.

Julia Morgan 2012 is the pilot project of Landmarks California and over 20 organizations are expected to participate in the six-week statewide festival honoring Julia Morgan which started on October 1, 2012.

The Landmarks California program is intended to demonstrate the many positive outcomes of historic preservation: environmental and financial sustainability, a means of telling the many stories that comprise California's diverse history, and a social fabric strengthened by a sense of pride and belonging to the community. This ongoing program will continue to advance the CCHE's goal of strengthening and deepening Californians' understanding of California's history, its present society and themselves, with the end goal of better communities and neighborhoods. Visit for more project details.

Funding for CCHE projects comes from voter-approved bonds from the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002, more commonly known as Proposition 40 (PDF) l (HTML). Proposition 40 authorized the sale of $2.6 billion in General Obligation bonds. Of that dollar amount, $267.5 million – 10% — was dedicated to Historical and Cultural Resources Preservation (Proposition 40, Article 5, Section 5096.652 (a)). Of the $267.5 million, approximately $122 million was appropriated to the Endowment to distribute competitively to government entities, non-profit organizations, and Indian tribes for the acquisition, restoration, preservation, and interpretation of historical and cultural resources.

Why Our Cultural Heritage is Worth Preserving

(Excerpted in part from AB716)

Every civilization defines itself in part by its past, and an understanding of its past helps determine its basic values and future aspirations. Understanding of the past is strengthened and deepened by contact with the buildings, physical places, and artifacts of earlier times. Through learning this past, our young and future generations come to better understand the society in which they live and to better understand themselves.

As California's built environment becomes remarkably similar throughout the state, it is left to the natural environment and the structures of the past to give a unique sense of place to our communities. Preserving these structures is becoming increasingly important as a way of preserving community identity.

The buildings, other structures, and artifacts that embody California's past are in escalating danger of being redeveloped, remodeled, renovated, paved, excavated, bulldozed, modernized, and lost forever.

For history to be part of our lives, and to preserve community identities, we must include history in our daily lives. This can be accomplished through creative, adaptive reuse of historic structures in our older commercial districts and inner cities.

California has one of the most diverse populations on earth, and its cultural and historic preservation efforts should reflect that fact. The California Cultural and Historical Endowment's mission is to document the cultural traditions and historic roles of California's Latino, African-American, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Jewish populations. The Endowment is also seeking out and telling the stories of the many other groups of peoples with uniquely identifiable cultures and histories. It is increasingly important to preserve the physical and cultural history and folklife of these many groups, who have made important contributions to California's history, development, and identity.

Historic preservation should include the contributions of all Californians. The study of history once focused largely on the actions and works of the wealthy, powerful, noble, brilliant, or famous persons. More recently, historians have tried to increase understanding of how more ordinary people lived and thought. California's historic preservation efforts should allow its citizens and visitors to experience something of the physical world of both the extraordinary and the mundane.

California has preserved sites important to its prehistoric and later Native American people. It has preserved great and beautiful structures of the 19th century. But California's history does not end there. The state must now consciously preserve selected remnants of the 1930s, of California's role in World War II, as well as representative sites and structures that were culturally or economically important during the 1950s, 1960s, and, in some cases, even more recently.

Traditionally, public funds to preserve and interpret California's historic and cultural heritage have been scarce. Recently, the voters have approved bond funds with significant funding for historic and cultural resources. Proposition 12, passed in 1999, included $10 million for the Office of Historic Preservation to issue grants for historic preservation projects. In 2002, the voters approved the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002 (Proposition 40), which included $267 million for historic and cultural resource preservation.

Proposition 40 specified that the $267 million was to fund a broad range of cultural and historic resource preservation programs. It called for a program for the "acquisition, development, preservation, and interpretation of buildings, structures, sites, places, and artifacts that preserve and demonstrate culturally significant aspects of California's history and for grants for these purposes. Proposition 40 funds are to be used to support projects that help to preserve and demonstrate:

  • Culturally significant aspects of life during various periods of California history including architecture, economic activities, art, recreation, and transportation;
  • Unique identifiable ethnic and other communities that have added significant elements to California's culture;
  • California industrial, commercial, and military history including the industries, technologies, and commercial activities that have characterized California's economic expansion and California's contribution to national defense; and
  • Important paleontologic, oceanographic, and geologic sites and specimens.