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
|For Woodstock Site, Peace and
Love and History
The Towne Crier, May 5-11, 2004
The locally revered historic status of Woodstock can expect to get a big boost from Albany this summer when the New York State Museum hosts what is shaping up to be the most high-profile of 35th anniversary celebrations for the historic 1969 festival.
The museum, located on the Empire State Plaza, lends its considerable weight as a cultural institution to what for years was an anniversary kept alive through the strength of the counter-culture and its colorful gatherings on the Bethel field.
The museum’s involvement goes a long ways toward underscoring the true significance of the event which many say helped “shape a generation.”
Meanwhile, back here in the county, we can feasibly count on a groundbreaking for the Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center sometime this summer as well – and that’ll also feel like a celebration.
All of this is why it may be a good time to lay to rest what, to many folks, seems like a disagreement over just about nothing when it comes to the need and the reality of preserving the Woodstock site.
From time to time the Woodstock Preservation Alliance (WPA) raises high the issue of preservation of the original, 38-acre Woodstock field. Their points have been well-made and well-documented. They’ve charitably and reasonably said that they support the performing arts center, but they don’t want anything built on the original field. Gerry Foundation plans, however, call for some structures, including an interpretive center there.
The events planned by the State Museum, if nothing else, should assure us that the Woodstock Festival has a pretty secure place in history.
As part of the planning for Bethel Woods, the Gerry Foundation consulted historians and found the site eligible (or it will be when 50 years beyond 1969 have passed). The understanding from the foundation is, the property will be listed on the historic register at that time if not before.
In many ways, a compromise was reached on the point of preservation many months ago. That occurred way back when it was decided there’d be no permanent construction in the ’69 concert bowl.
In the mind’s eye, it is that concert bowl that symbolizes the magic of Woodstock in 1969. It is not the tangential 10 acres at the top of the alfalfa field, nor was it the five acres across the street, nor the waters of Filipini Pond (though a good share of historic skinny dipping took place there) that evoke the historic Woodstock.
To be hinged on a hands-off, no-development policy in regard to the 38 acres of the original alfalfa field – as the WPA has stated – is an unnecessary allegiance to math. The Woodstock Festival of 1969 was in no way contained on or limited to those 38 acres. Lord knows, the oozing, grooving rock concert spilled onto half the western end of this county. And we celebrate that; we all celebrate that.
So let’s just regard Woodstock as historically preserved; let’s revel in the new level of recognition coming Woodstock’s way from the State Museum and let’s call it a truce between the WPA and Gerry Foundation.