Welcome to the Woodstock - Preservation Archives
Dedicated to the Historic Preservation of the Site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival
THE WOODSTOCK SITE
Hurd & West Shore Rds
THE WOODSTOCK PRESERVATIONISTS
(Pickering, Ontario, Canada)
Born in 1964, and in Canada for that matter, I was much too young to have attended the Woodstock Festival in 1969. I was however privileged to have walked those grounds some thirty years later and feel the energy that remains. Being from a country that cherishes peace and freedom, the legend of this event always felt as something that I could identify with. Although I have never dismissed some of the darker aspects of the 1960's (drugs etc.), I have preferred to focus on the positive aspects of caring and sharing that the festival has come to represent for many. I myself have felt the positive vibe of 500,000 strong while at the Sars concert in Toronto in 2003, and in some way understand that humanity can come together for a brief moment in time, rising above its critics' dim predictions, and prove that human decency exists. My several years working towards the goal of an historically preserved Woodstock site in Bethel, New York is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life. With few resources, and a wealth of determination, it was shown a few caring individuals can effect change, or at least persuade the powers that be to weigh their plans. The Woodstock site, will continue to have some resemblance to it's original historic state for years to come and will allow visitors to experience an icon to a generation. I and my colleagues feel that we had some influence in protecting this parcel of peace and for that, the battle was worth it.
(Blakely, PA, USA)
Undoubtedly, if I was just a couple of years older in 1969, I would have found my way to Bethel. Woodstock was happening a mere 60 miles away - and it took me 25 years to get there. It was 1994, when my children and I attended a festival in Bethel, when I realized exactly where I was at. Standing at the marker, and gazing at the breathtaking view - I was mesmerized by the magnificence of this peaceful setting and flooded by memories of those times past. As I walked on that field, I was overwhelmed by the sense of importance for what had happened there and a respect for what it represents. I found myself drawn back to visit often, and I grew concerned over reports of its development. More often than not, what was important yesterday, is erased by tomorrow - so I am grateful for the opportunity to have played an active role in the historic preservation efforts of this global landmark, and proud of the changes we were able to affect. My years of involvement in this project have been filled with passion, privilege and enlightenment - and an experience I will never forget. I finally did make it to Woodstock, I just took a different road. And in closing, I'd like to share my most valuable lesson, which presented itself at the end. I learned that it is possible for an ordinary grandmother, in small town America, to make a difference. If I could do it -- anyone can. Imagine the possibilities.
Michael Wm Doyle, Ph.D.
(Muncie, Ind., USA)
Michael Wm. Doyle is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Public History Internship Program at Ball State University. He was active in the new-wave food co-op movement during the 1970s while living communally on an organic farm he helped found in Wisconsin. Following the nation's bicentennial, he worked as a community-based public historian, coordinating a project that successfully nominated 134 structures to the National Register of Historic Places. He earned a B.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. With Peter Braunstein he edited and contributed to Imagine Nation: The American Counterculture of the 1960s and '70s and is completing a book entitled Free Radicals: The Haight-Ashbury Diggers and the American Counterculture of the 1960s.
(Scranton, PA. USA)
My first experience with the Woodstock Spirit came when I attended the 25th anniversary reunion in Bethel. I don't know how many thousands attended that weekend, but I remember watching my new friends and "neighbors" in awe, wondering what it must have been like during that weekend in 1969. As I learned more about Woodstock, I began to realize that something very special occurred in those mountains. Four hundred thousand people, in one place, to celebrate peace, love, and music, were given the chance to demonstrate their utopian ideals for the world. And they succeeded, despite the catastrophe that Woodstock turned out to be.
Since the reunion, I have been a frequent visitor to Bethel. I've spent countless hours at the Monument, reflecting not only on my own experiences there, but also on the idea that there are so many, many thousands with their own unique memories of the same picturesque landscape. At the ripe old age of 30, I have already seen many of my memories lost to development. Not the memories themselves, of course, but any sign of what once took place there - that that spot might have been special to someone at one time. More often than not, there is little that can be done - but this time, we had a voice. A chance to make a difference, to try to preserve a bit of our history. Obviously, we were not completely successful, but ninety percent is not a failure. And it's encouraging to know that "the little people" do have a voice, we just have to speak up, and keep talking until someone listens.
(Stanbridge East, Quebec, Canada)
I was born in May 1978 and raised in Stanbridge East, Quebec a small town just a few miles north of the Vermont border. I was ten years old when I first watched Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock documentary with my sister… despite her protest. I was so fascinated by what I was seeing, I never noticed my sister get up and leave. Even at that age I understood the significance of the festival, the hope it represented. Seeing all those people coexisting in peace, to know its possible even if it was for just a few days meant a lot to me being from a linguistically divided province. From that day on, I knew I had to go to that field even if it was just to see where it all happened. I was to my disappointment that I was never able to attend an anniversary concert. It wasn’t until June 28, 2003 that I finally made it to Bethel, it took a few tries but I made it all the way with my long time friend. The moment wasn’t lost to either of us; we savored every minute. Little did I know it was the first of many visits, a habit I still find hard to break. I believe that a divine force in some way orchestrates every meeting in our lives and the strangers to whom we are drawn have something to teach us. I have learned a lot from the people I’ve met since I came across the WPA. One of the things I’ve learned is that (as Albert Einstein once said) “nothing happens until something moves”. If given the choice it’s a journey I would take all over again.
(Originally Norwich, New York)
I grew up in upstate New York about 2 ½ hours from Bethel. I spent several years traveling around the country via my thumb, and had some of the best and worst times in my life. I always considered Woodstock to be the one thing (next to the constitution) that kept me loving my country. I felt that if something so beautiful could happen in our country, than it was only a matter of time before the whole world was teaming with love. But like all things, my childhood dreams vanished, reality set in and my fight for justice and equality ensued.
Although I had only visited Woodstock for the festival twice (’99 and 01’), I have been in a Woodstock frame of mind ever since I can remember. Our world is changing rapidly, and to see the site go seems a prelude to the desecration of our entire American society. Times are not peaceful, and many people are no longer loving. I have fought for and supported several causes in my short time on planet earth, but none as intensive as my work on the WPA web site. Our site has become the premier collection of historical material on the preservation efforts that ensued more than 30 years later. I am not very hopeful for our country at this point, but I am hopeful that this site will remain a beacon to those who felt the possibilities that the Woodstock generation held dear. We can still get there, but the fight is still just beginning. Don’t forget what is good in this life, and don’t forget to fight for it, or it WILL be taken away. Sometimes we can’t win, but we would surely lose if we did not fight. Too many have come before us and given their lives for the basic freedoms and equality we enjoy now. We cannot let them down, and we cannot let ourselves down. The Woodstock event may be gone, but love never dies.
New York State Musuem