BETHEL – Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has announced the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival has been officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places, formally acknowledging the significance of the site’s heritage. The National Register is a program of the National Park Service and U.S. Department of the Interior which recognizes the significance of buildings, structures and sites throughout the country.
Darlene Fedun, Chief Executive Officer of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts said, “We are thrilled to be officially placed on the National Register. We take our role as stewards of the land very seriously, and have done so since the beginning. We understand how important the festival was to American history and Sullivan County’s, and we use that as inspiration for all that we do. Our programming, whether it be in The Museum, in our education initiatives, on our grounds, or on our Main Stage, embodies the spirit of the ‘60s and Woodstock festival.” Fedun continued, “Being placed on the National Register will only further our efforts and ensure that these hallowed grounds are preserved for generations to come and enjoy.”
While the National Register does offer some protections, benefits, and grant opportunities for listed properties, the Register’s primary benefit is the recognition it brings to the nation’s historic places. The Woodstock historic site resonates with Baby Boomers, their children, and their grandchildren. Significant historic places – The Empire State Building, The Grand Canyon and now the Woodstock historic site – offer a tangible place for people to relive a moment, learn the lessons of the past, and contemplate how to use those lessons to make the world a better place. Historic places serve an important function in our society by bringing people together, giving meaning to our shared experiences, said Fedun.
Through a challenge grant from the Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation and matching funds from National Trust for Historic Preservation and several individual donors, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts takes has begun the first phase of projects to enhance the site’s authenticity and give heritage visitors more opportunities to explore the historic site. These projects include; the protection of several venerable old trees that witnessed the festival, propagation of the historic Message Tree so that its own offspring may one day replace it when that day comes, clearing the viewshed and other improvements at the Woodstock monument, and the creation of a contemplative overlook at the top of the festival field nestled amidst a pair of black cherry trees which also bore witness to the events in 1969.
The centerpiece of the initial preservation project is the restoration of several of the footpaths that crisscrossed the Bindy Bazaar woods across Hurd Road from the festival field. These restored paths will offer visitors the opportunity to explore what was once an important vending area and crossroads of the Woodstock festival, enhancing the site experience. The colorful sign that marked the entrance to the woods during the festival will be reproduced, as will the famous, hand-painted directional signs that proclaimed the “High Way,” “Groovy Way,” and “Gentle Path” in the woods.
Future projects will further enhance the historic site drawing tourists from across the country and around the world. These plans include restoring the landscape contours where the Woodstock stage stood and marking the footprints of the stage and other key structures on the field, as well as developing an interactive self-guided tour of the grounds. To learn more about these projects and helping to preserve the site please visit bethelwoodscenter.org/the-museum/clr.
The Museum at Bethel Woods explores the social, political, cultural and musical transformations of the sixties while drawing connections to the issues that continue to affect our world today. It features an award-winning permanent collection, evolving exhibits and engaging programs. Visit bethelwoodscenter.org for more information and to plan your visit.
Museum Summer Hours:
May 1 – September 4
Open every day, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Museum Early Fall Hours:
September 5 – October 9
Open every day, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Museum Fall Hours:
October 10 – December 23
Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(Home for the Holidays hours: December 26–31, open every day, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m.)
NOTE: Please call ahead to verify museum hours on concert days. Access to the grounds is closed on Pavilion concert days. The Monument continues to be open to visitors seven days a week, all year long via West Shore Road. The Museum will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve day, and Christmas Day.