Museum of History in Granite
The Center of the World - Felicity, CA
The speed was 70 mph and the freeway was open; it was a nice day on the I-8 as we passed through the Imperial Sand Dunes. On the left I saw what appeared to be a church on a hill in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. I'm always looking for unexpected places in the desert and this seemed to be one. At the exit I was greeted by a sign welcoming me to Felicity, California, the center of the earth and the location of the Museum of History in Granite.
There was a bronze arm whose hand pointed to the church on the hill and to the location of the center of the world right here in Felicity, to be found within a pyramid. The arm is a three-dimensional replica of Michelangelo's arm of God painted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. It was sculpted and cast in bronze and is part of a 15 foot sundial which is only precisely accurate once a year, at noon on Christmas Day.
The Official Center of the World is a dot on the bronze plaque within the pyramid. The center of the world, or universe, can be anywhere. It was set by law, based upon a now popular book for children "COE the Good Dragon at the Center of the World," – and who argues with a fairy tale?
The focus of Jacques-Andre Istel, the developer and Mayor of Felicity is his Museum of History in Granite, "To engrave in granite highlights of the collective memory of humanity". The monuments are designed to last 4,000 years, so that in the future when we're all gone, archaeologists of another time will be able to read our history, recorded in stone. Istel's concept is to create an archive for our time that endures as the ancient writing on the Egyptian's pyramids cut into sandstone over 4,000 years ago have done.
The Museum of History in Granite was created as a World Commemorative Center which preserves the traces of civilizations, and will represent our own in future millennia.
The Monument began with the construction of eight monuments in 2006, then more were built in 2008 covering the history of the United States, California and Arizona. Over 900 granite panels have been installed, many of which have been engraved. In 2015 there were a total of 16 monument sections, with granite faces. The History of California monument section is under construction and should be finished in 2016.
During the winter season, starting in November and ending in April at Easter, there is a 15 minute tour at Felicity with includes a seven minute video. Each monument (Granite Museum-Walls™) tells the history of one country or entity. The monuments are one hundred feet long, and designed by structural engineers to endure for 4,000 years. To read all the completed monuments takes about six or more hours.
Here are some views of the project.
Overlooking the Museum is a church; the Hill of Prayer was built in January 2002 by moving 150,000 tons of earth. The church will remain the highest point in the town of Felicity now and in the future.
At the entrance to Felicity stands a 25 foot high circular stairway - it's section 12 of the original stairway of the Eiffel Tower. In 1983, the government of France removed approximately 500 ft of the original stairway. Twenty sections were sold at auction on December 1, 1983. Most are in museums and a few are in private hands. Section 12 was bought at auction in June 1989 at the Chateau de Cheverny. It serves no practical purpose, but is part of the spirit of Felicity.
The project that Jacques-Andre Istel has started will last long beyond his lifetime and will be continued by those who follow his dreams. For more on the project see the website.
by DesertUSA Staff, photos by Jim Bremner
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