Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – The plaque designating Arcata's Jacoby Building as California Registered Historical Landmark No. 783 was removed from its 55-year station at Eighth and H streets on March 6 because of its misleading and offensive wording trivializing the ruthless conquest of the indigenous Wiyot People as "Indian troubles."
The next step in the removal process was replacing the little-loved plaque with a new one that included historically accurate wording, with the new verbiage to be developed by Arcata's Historic Landmarks Committee (HLC) in consultation with local Indian tribes.
No one from the public showed up for the HLC's monthly meeting Thursday, although it didn't really matter since the committee had no quorum and couldn't act on its agenda, which included plaque wording.
But, sitting in the darkened Council Chamber, HLC Chair Don Tuttle said the subcommittee charged with drafting the new plaque wording had completed its labors. It has forwarded the revised wording to Wiyot Tribal Chair Ted Hernandez for review, and is waiting to hear back.
Rather than wordsmith an elaborate revision to the plaque, the HLC simply deleted the sentence which included the two-word phrase that doomed Plaque 1.0. – the one that read, "From 1858 through 1864 it served periodically as a refuge in time of Indian troubles." (See highlighted area in photo, above.)
That leaves the remaining wording as: "Jacoby Building. The basement and first story of the building at 8th and H streets (opposite) was constructed in 1857 for Augustus Jacoby. For many years it was a principal supply point for the Klamath-Trinity mining camp trade. [sentence deleted] Housing various mercantile firms during its early years, it was acquired by A. Brizard in 1880."
While the revised plaque will certainly retain the line about the Jacoby Building being "California Registered Historical Landmark No. 783," the very bottom of the sign poses a quirky problem. It states, "Plaque placed by the State Park Commission in cooperation with the Humboldt County Historical Society, the City of Arcata, and Brizard Company, June 8, 1963."
Those particulars wouldn't be true of the replacement plaque, unless that part was also amended. The HLC's solution, it seems, is to punt that situation upstairs.
According to Alyson Hunter, senior planner in Arcata's Community Development Dept. and liaison to the HLC, the revised plaque wording is being pursued as an amendment to the existing historic register designation, and the California Office of Historic Preservation will be asked to decide what to do about the plaque placement statement.