We just learned that Dunsmuir-Hellman Estate will shift operations from a non-profit group to direct city oversight. Knowing how our cash-strapped city has been cutting back on cultural and park resources, we’re extremely worried this special place will get mothballed.
Like so many places, Dunsmuir has been challenged by the recession. While owned by the City of Oakland, an independent non-profit organization has managed the estate for decades. There are weddings and events booked this year and next, but not enough to pay $380k in annual operating costs required for estate upkeep.
Over the past 40 years, the estate has figured into the traditions of East Bay residents. Well-known Christmas celebrations takes place through December, when the mansion gets decorated to the hilt and plays host to tours, teas and Santa Claus. It’s part of our cultural fabric!
In more recent years, Easter celebrations, Halloween festivities, picnic days and movie nights have joined the annual roster. Various groups also host great events, notably the Scottish Highlands Games. Plus the mansion has figured into a couple movie shoots as well.
We’re pretty depressed about Dunsmuir’s change of control, as reins get handed to Oakland Parks and Recreation now. We know that our city administrators and elected officials can’t wave a magic wand and support the estate. Are there any white knights in shining armor out there?