The John Muir Muir Association has been working for more than 50 years to preserve the memory of John Muir and the origins of the environmental movement in the United States. JMA was formed in 1956 to assure preservation of Muir’s home, and helped to win designation of the home as a national historic site.
When the John Muir National Historic Site was established by the National Park Service in 1964, an adjacent veterinary clinic was purchased and turned into the Visitor Center for the John Muir National Historic Site. The JMNHS Visitor Center had not been much improved over these many decades.
Some years past, the John Muir Association, in partnership with the John Muir Festival Center, raised funds for a new Visitor Center. Although significant funds were raised, the funding did not reach the amount needed for a new building. Instead, the monies were used, in conjunction with National Park Service funds, for a major renovation of the Visitor Center.
The work has been completed and the National Park Service and the John Muir Association held the dedication of the new Visitor Center on September 24, 2011. The dedication coincided with announcements that the John Muir National Historic Site is now open every day of the week, and admission is free.
The renovations incorporated a number of eco-friendly, sustainable equipment and products into the design. In addition, new exhibits about John Muir greet visitors.
The John Muir Association is proud to be a part of this wonderful improvement of the Visitor Center, and invite you to come and visit—any day of the week. The Site is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years day.
California Native Plant Garden
For decades, the landscaping around the Visitor Center changed very little. Many thought the collection of non-native shrubs featured there were not only less than attractive, they did not contribute to the visitor experience.
Along with Lucy Lawliss, the former Resources Manager at the John Muir National Historic Site, an enthusiastic group of volunteers from the John Muir Association, Contra Costa Master Gardeners, California Native Plant Society–East Bay Chapter and Friends of Alhambra Creek came together to create a space that will remind visitors of Muir’s abiding passion for native plants and his role as one of the great botanical collectors of his day. Beginning in 2007, the late Greg Wolford—a dedicated professional in the design and installation of native plant landscapes—worked with the volunteers to plan and install the first phase. Planting began in the spring of 2008.
Greg created naturalistic settings to display an array of native plants and has tied the plant communities together with interweaving gravel paths and sculpted terrain. A handout available at the front desk aids in plant identification.
The John Muir National Historic Site California Native Plant Garden Coloring Book & Guide was published with funds collected in tribute to the dedicated John Muir volunteer gardener, Ray Egbert. The Guide gives visitors a way to learn the plant names and how to use them to enhance their own home gardens. Natives provide many benefits; they are pest-resistant plants that require little or no water once established.
In 2011, John Muir NHS Site Horticulturalist Keith Park worked to expand the garden along the frontage of the park. He recruited volunteer visitors on September 24th—National Public Lands Day and the Dedication for the newly renovated Visitor Center—to plant additional native plants.
The garden presents an ever-changing delight. Come and visit to observe the colors, patterns, textures and fragrances of blossoms and aromatic leaves as the plants change with the seasons. Learn the preferred growing conditions of a diversity of native plants. You may see one that would enhance your garden, and you, too, could restore a bit of native California.
The John Muir Association was instrumental in providing funding to design and install the garden surrounding the Visitor Center, and proceeds from JMA’s Guide help fund ongoing garden improvements.
Learn more about the garden.
Purchase the Guide.
Local high school students from the Environmental Studies Academy (ESA) and muralist Christopher Castle raised the funds needed to paint a mural on a main roadway flanking the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez. The John Muir Association contributed to this effort, which prominently features John Muir and a scenic display of wildlife. The mural is located on a John Muir NHS retaining wall on Alhambra Avenue near the Alhambra Valley Road intersection.
A second mural is proposed along Franklin Canyon Road to provide a welcoming display surrounding the tunnel, which connects portions of the East Bay Regional Park District trail system and leads to the Canyon Way entrance to the John Muir NHS.
ESA students will research the source material and assist Castle in its design and installation. The Environmental Studies Academy, a program of the Martinez Unified School District, offers an alternative learning experience for high school students. ESA students have participated in numerous environmental projects in the region to garner hands-on experience while working with a community-based network of partners.
Castle is an environmental artist who, alongside his paintings and prints as an individual artist, has coordinated a series of public art works in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to Castle, “The mural will be a celebration of the energy of life, nature and a positive environment in keeping with John Muir’s spirit.”
The National Park Service and John Muir Association are partners in the planned project, providing support and funding. Other grants and donations are currently being sought to support the work. If you would like to contribute, please e-mail us below.
The John Muir Association will continue to be a partner with the National Park Service at the John Muir National Historic Site to provide improvements to the visitor experience and enlightenment about John Muir. John Muir’s legacy supports protecting nature and how each of us can be a better steward of the planet.
We welcome your help as a contributor, a member or as a volunteer for our projects and events. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or:
John Muir Association
P.O. Box 2433
Martinez, CA 9455
Phone: (925) 229-3857