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Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Rise, Ruin & Restoration: A History of Sutter’s Fort by Cheryl Ann Stapp is an engaging read that speaks about the iconic Sutter’s Fort built by John Sutter. The walled compound of Sutter’s Fort is imposing and sits on two full Sacramento city blocks bounded by Twenty-sixth and Twenty-eighth Streets and K and L Streets. The author chronicles the rise, ruin, and restoration of this high-walled fortress from its origins and everything related to the fort and its importance. Sutter’s Fort has an interesting history beginning from when John Sutter arrived at Fort Vancouver, and from there when he reached the Sacramento Valley.
Dividing the book into three sections - rise, ruin, and restoration - the author does a great job handling the topic methodically and extensively, giving readers detailed narration that will inform them of the history of the fort from the time of being built in 1839 to that of the fort falling from grace and then being restored. There is no spot in California that is so closely associated with the history of the pioneer days of this state than Sutter’s Fort. The book speaks about the reasons why John Sutter built the fort, the role of Sutter's Fort in the rescue of the Donner Party, the owner of the fort after John Sutter left, the importance of restoring the fort back in the 1890s, and visitors’ experiences of Sutter’s Fort in current times. The photographs and sketches shared by the author help readers connect better with her words and explanations.
The Fort is quite popular and was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1965, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Every week during the school year school children are taken to Sutter’s Fort so that they can participate in the Fort’s Environmental Living Program. They can dress up in clothes of the 1840s era to experience the life of that period. The book is good to have in school libraries as it will come in handy as a reference guide to tutors, educators, researchers and students.