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Local historian rejuvenates Comstock
by Harry Spencer
Sep 23, 2013 | 2680 views | 0 0 comments | 134 134 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After decades of neglect and deterioration, the iconic mining buildings of the Comstock Mining District finally have a new champion of restoration. The name of that champion is the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture. This foundation is sponsored by Comstock Mining, Inc. which is setting aside a percentage of its profits to fund the endeavor.

Corrado De Gasperis, President and CEO of Comstock Mining, who also serves as Chair of the board for the Foundation, recently announced the appointment of well-known local preservationist Ron James as Executive Director of the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture.

In addition to his work with the Comstock Foundation, James serves on the National Park System Advisory Board, as the Chairman of the National Historic Landmarks Committee, and as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Cold War Theme Study.

In December 2012, James retired as the Nevada State Historic Preservation Officer, having administered the agency for 30 years. He was a member of the Comstock Historic District Commission for 17 years. In 1991, James organized the Commission for Cultural Affairs and subsequently administered the distribution of roughly $40 million in grants from that agency, supporting the rehabilitation of over 100 historic Nevada buildings to function as cultural centers. 

James is the author or co-author of 10 books, including The Roar and the Silence: A History of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode, winner of the Wilbur S. Shepperson Humanities Book Award for 1998.

He has received two awards from the American Association of State and Local History, one for the exhibit “Havens in a Heartless World: Virginia City’s Saloons and the Archaeology of the Wild West (2007) and more recently for his book, The Gold Rush Letters of E. Allen Grosh and Hosea B. Grosh, which also received an “Award of Special Recognition from the Clark C. Spence Award Committee” of the National Mining History Association (2013).

James serves as adjunct faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is a historian and folklorist, with degrees in both fields from the University of Nevada, Reno. He was the nation’s I.T.T. Fellow to Ireland in 1981-1982, where he studied folklore at the national archives. James’s publications on folklore, history, architectural history, and archaeology have appeared in six countries and he has given hundreds of presentations throughout North America.

James will collaborate with the Comstock Foundation’s five-member board comprised of independent, local representation and others who share an interest in preserving and enhancing this landmark mining district. Joining De Gasperis on this board are Paul Yandre of Virginia City, Pam Abercrombe of Silver City, Lee Halavais of Reno, Nevada and John Winfield, the Chairman of the Board for Comstock Mining, Inc. and a resident of southern California.

Comstock Mining initially began the groundwork by propping up some of the crumbling structures in Silver City. This foundation has a two-fold purpose of refurbishing and rehabbing iconic mining structures as well as the promotion of one of Nevada’s greatest cultural treasures and attractions to lure additional tourists to the storied location. The Foundation is in the process of filing with the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status.

For additional information about the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture, contact Ron James at 443-7803.

Harry Spencer is a long-time northern Nevada resident.
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