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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Auburn in Placer County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

The Historic Cooper Amphitheater

 
 
The Historic Cooper Amphitheater Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, November 12, 2011
1. The Historic Cooper Amphitheater Marker
Photo Captions:
Upper Left:

"Placer Band and 781 Elementary Pupils Present Sight at Cooper Amphitheater Sunday"
[Auburn Journal-Republican May 7, 1936]

Inscription.
Kiosk Side A:
Creating Jobs and Building Community
It started as an ”unsightly maze and tangle of briars, brush and junk”… It became ”one of the finest open air amphitheaters in northern California…Beautiful in its simplicity and beautiful in magnitude”… [Auburn Journal Editorial December 12, 1935]. Created in 1935, the Cooper Amphitheater was a product of civic pride, community leadership, state assistance and a collective dream. In 1934, Herbert M. Cooper, then President of both the Board of Trustees for the Auburn Union Elementary School and the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, proposed the creation of the amphitheater on the grounds of the Auburn Union Grammar School. The proposal answered an ambitious call from the State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA) seeking projects “of a public nature that have a community value.” and that “ provide for an efficient use of labor while improving school yards, creating community parks, reforestation, erosion control and building community gathering places/”

Meeting the Challenge to Embrace Arts, Give Dignity to the Unemployed. and Preserve Our Natural Endowment, SERA & WPA Funded the Cooper Amphitheater
In the depths of the Great Depression,
Gateway to Regional Trails - Kiosk Side B image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, November 13, 2011
2. Gateway to Regional Trails - Kiosk Side B
unemployment was widespread with rural communities particularly hard hit. The State of California responded by calling for community projects that would provide desperately needed jobs. The City of Auburn became the headquarters for the effort throughout a 15 county region of the Foothills and Central Valley. The Auburn Union Grammar School’s Cooper Amphitheater was selected as one of the first such projects. Using locally quarried stone, residents completed the initial portion of the amphitheater project on July 18, 1935, the stage and bridge backdrop over North Rich Ravine, preserving a magnificent oak tree right in the middle of the stage floor.

Why Restore and Preserve This Natural Outdoor Theater?
Professor Linda Jewell, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert on American amphitheaters observed that “these public works were developed under extreme limitations of the depression and yet produced many of the most beautiful and site responsive outdoor theaters ever built in the American landscape.” More than 60 outdoor amphitheaters were created under WPA, SERA, and other public works programs. Some well known examples still serve as outdoor stages. They include Berkeley’s John Hinkle Park Theater, Mt. Tamalpais’ Mountain Theater, and Denver’s Red Rocks Theater. Sadly,
School Park Preserve - Kiosk C image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, November 12, 2010
3. School Park Preserve - Kiosk C
however, many have been lost.

Thus, in the late 1980’s, when the School Park Preserve site and the stone walls of the Cooper Amphitheater faced bulldozers and destruction, a 19 year effort ensued to restore and protect the amphitheater and the heritage oaks as a public park. September 2006, the California Cultural and Historical Endowment [CCHE] award funds to the City of Auburn, matching local community contributions, to restore this outdoor theater and the unique landscape design surrounding it, thereby preserving a critical piece of our 20th Century heritage.

Kiosk Side B:
Gateway to Regional Trails
Auburn State Recreation Area
School Park Preserve is a gateway to the Auburn State Recreation Area, which straddles the North and Middle Forks of the American River. The American River’s rich cultural tapestry includes influences from the Maidu Nisenan Indians, Spanish settlers and Gold Rush miners. The river was originally named Rio de los Americanos by the Spanish. Today, the pristine river and canyon trails, managed by California State Parks and Recreation, offers visitors a variety of recreational activities to enjoy, including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, whitewater boating, fishing and much more.

Kiosk - Side C:
School Park Preserve
School Park Preserve
The Historic Cooper Amphitheater Kiosk image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, November 12, 2010
4. The Historic Cooper Amphitheater Kiosk
This view shows Side D which gives information on the wild life and fauna found in the area.
is the result of community leadership and collaboration by six community partners – Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust, Placer Community Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of Auburn, Placer Land Trust, Auburn Unified Elementary School District, and the City of Auburn. The project was launched in 2001, when these groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding to preserve this heritage oak grove and to restore Cooper Amphitheater and North Rich Ravine.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects marker series.
 
Location. 38° 53.768′ N, 121° 4.403′ W. Marker is in Auburn, California, in Placer County. Marker can be reached from High Street east of College Way, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. The kiosk is located at the High Street entrance to the School Park Preserve. Marker is in this post office area: Auburn CA 95603, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Gold Discovered Just Downstream in Auburn Ravine! - Why Daylight North Rich Ravine? (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Odd Fellows Hall, Auburn Lodge #7 (about 700 feet away); Placer County Courthouse (approx. 0.2 miles away); Gold Bug Stamp Mill
The Historic Cooper Amphitheater Stage image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, November 12, 2010
5. The Historic Cooper Amphitheater Stage
(approx. 0.2 miles away); Veteran's Memorial Hall (approx. 0.2 miles away); Brye House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Central Square (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Auburn Masonic Hall (approx. ¼ mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Auburn.
 
Categories. Arts, Letters, Music
 
Cooper Amphitheater Changes With Time image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, November 12, 2010
6. Cooper Amphitheater Changes With Time
This wayside marker is located on the trail which circles around the preserve.
The Historic Cooper Amphitheater Stage image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, November 12, 2010
7. The Historic Cooper Amphitheater Stage
This view of the restored stage is seen from the "Cooper Amphitheater Changes With Time" wayside marker.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 526 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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