Throughout its history, members of the Native Sons have safeguarded many of the landmarks of California’s pioneer days, purchasing and rehabilitating them and then donating them to the State or local governments.
Below are some of the many historical sites the Native Sons have helped with;
- Sutter’s Fort, Sacramento: By 1888 the once proud fort built by John Sutter was abandoned and deteriorating and the City of Sacramento sought to demolish it. C.E. Grunsky of Native Sons of the Golden West Sunset Parlor #25 in Sacramento led the fight to purchase and restore this most important symbol of California’s pioneer history. After two years of fundraising, the Native Sons bought the historic Central Building and turned the land and building over to the State of California for further restoration.
- San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, San Francisco: The Grace Quan is a reproduction of a 19th-century Chinese shrimp fishing junk. The replica was built in 2003 by the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and all of the wood for construction was donated by Native Sons, Redwood Parlor #66.
- Rancho Petaluma Adobe, Petaluma: In 1910, Native Sons of the Golden West, Petaluma Parlor #27 purchased what remained of General Mariano G. Vallejo’s vast adobe ranch house. Over half of the building had succumbed to neglect and the forces of nature. In 1932 it was registered as California State Historical Landmark #18. After years of work and fundraising, the fully restored historic site was turned over to the State of California in 1951.
- San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park, Escondido: San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park honors the soldiers who fought in the 1846 Battle of San Pasqual, the bloodiest battle in California during the Mexican-American War. The Native Sons of the Golden West were instrumental in raising money, preserving and ultimately creating the park which was then given to the State of California.
- James W. Marshall Monument Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, Coloma: In 1886, the members of the Native Sons of the Golden West, Placerville Parlor #9 felt that the “Discoverer of Gold” deserved a monument to mark his final resting place. In May 1890, five years after Marshall’s death, Placerville Parlor #9 of the Native Sons of the Golden West successfully advocated the idea of a monument to the State Legislature, which appropriated a total of $9,000 for the construction of the monument and tomb, the first such monument erected in California. A statue of Marshall stands on top of the monument, pointing to the spot where he made his discovery in 1848. The monument was rededicated October 8, 2010 by the Native Sons of the Golden West, Georgetown Parlor #91 in honor of the 200th Anniversary of James W. Marshall’s birth.
- Pioneer Monument Donner Memorial State Park, Truckee: The Pioneer Monument was erected in honor of all who made the difficult trek across the western plains and mountains to reach California during the 1840s. Constructed near the site of the cabins that gave shelter to the Donner Party, work on the monument began in 1901. On June 6, 1918 in a ceremony that included Donner Party survivors, the Native Sons of the Golden West donated the completed monument and eleven (11) surrounding acres to the State of California.
- Old Customhouse (Monterey, California): The Monterey Customs House, over which the American flag was first permanently raised in California, was a landmark that Native Sons determined should not disappear if within the power of the Order to prevent it. The property belonged to the United States Government, but the Native Sons obtained a lease of the buildings and grounds and restored them in the early 1900s. The lease was ultimately transferred to a State Commission appointed under a legislative act passed in 1901 which act also carried an appropriation for further restoration of the building.
- Colton Hall, Monterey: Native Sons were instrumental in 1903 in securing a legislative appropriation for necessary repairs on Colton Hall. It was within this building in September 1849 that the convention convened which drafted the Constitution under California was admitted into the Union.
- Mission San Antonio de Padua, Alta: Mission San Antonio de Padua was founded on July 14, 1771, the third mission founded in Alta California by Father Presidente Junípero Serra, and site of the first Christian marriage and first use of fired-tile roofing in Upper California. The first attempt at rebuilding the Mission came in 1903, when the California Historical Landmarks League began holding outings at San Antonio. “Preservation and restoration of Mission San Antonio began. The Native Sons of the Golden West supplied $1,400. Tons of debris were removed from the interior of the chapel. Breaches in the side wall were filled in.”
- Bear Flag Monument, Sonoma: “For many years, the site in Sonoma Plaza where the bear flag originally had been raised went unmarked. Largely through the efforts of the Native Sons, the legislature appropriated $5,000 for a monument to be placed there. The Native Sons raised $500 to prepare the site, put on dedication ceremonies, and to move the huge rock that serves as the pedestal from a mile away.”
- Bale Grist Mill founded by Edward Turner Bale in 1846 was preserved and restored through efforts of Native Sons.