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Friday, 08 February 2008 01:06

Fiddletown Receives Major Preservation Grant

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slide15.pngYesterday was the first day of the Chinese Year of the Rat. According to Chinese astrologists, it will be a year of great intellectual development and introspection, while sharing the bounties of the harvest with loved ones. Accordingly, Fiddletown Preservation Society is already reaping the bounty of a major grant from the California State Library. The California Cultural and Historical Endowment awarded the Fiddletown group more than $200,000 in grant monies to help restore the town’s Gold Rush era Chinese general store and gambling hall. Competition for the state grant money was stiff, but the Fiddletown site is unique, says Elaine Zorbas, Fiddletown Preservation Society historian. Chinese settlers were instrumental in building California, yet very little remains of their first settlements in the Sierra foothills.

According to Zorbas, work will begin next month on the two very fragile historical buildings in danger of collapse. The total cost to stabilize and weatherproof these buildings is over $400,000. Fiddletown has four 19th Century buildings still standing – the gambling hall and general store, the restored Chew Kee Herb Shop Museum and a Chinese adobe building. Together, they represent the largest and most intact group of Chinese buildings from a California Gold Rush mining town. The Chinese adobe is privately-owned but the other three buildings are owned by the County of Amadorwill be held on April 5 and is the seasonal opening of the Chew Kee Museum -- open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. April through October. It is one of the few places where visitors can find authentic artifacts and furnishings of Chinese life in the early days of California. Gung Hay Fat Choy! and are maintained by the Fiddletown Preservation Society. To celebrate Chinese New Year, the Fiddletown Preservation Society is preparing for the town’s annual Fiddletown Heritage Day. This year Heritage Day

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