The Theodore Roosevelt Monument San Luis Obispo

A San Luis Obispo Community Project


The monument will center on a seated Roosevelt, attired as he was one week after his speech in San Luis Obispo when he shared a three-day camping trip in Yosemite with John Muir. Roosevelt will be revealed as the charismatic naturalist that he was, within a setting of boulders and trees that invites residents and tourists to join Roosevelt in a “campfire conversation.”

The Theodore Roosevelt Monument-San Luis Obispo will honor our 26th President, considered a founding father of the American conservation movement. In 1903, Roosevelt spoke in San Luis Obispo at about the halfway point on a famous tour of the West. Roosevelt’s journey through the Central Coast, the Sierra Nevada, and California would result in the creation of Los Padres National Forest and Yosemite National Park.

To date, there is no site in all of California that honors the role of Theodore Roosevelt in protecting our nation’s natural resources. San Luis Obispo, with its strong tradition of conservation, is the ideal place for this commemoration.


Michell Park, Downtown San Luis Obispo

On May 9, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt spoke before a crowd estimated to number 10,000 at the present site of Mitchell Park in downtown San Luis Obispo. Roosevelt was not the first President to visit San Luis Obispo – that was William McKinley, his predecessor, in 1901. Apart from these visits, however, no other United States President has visited San Luis Obispo. Much has changed in San Luis Obispo since 1903 – but much of our rural character and open space remains.

This proposed monument will help residents and visitors alike to reflect on the legacy of conservation that motivates us, even today, to protect our natural resources for future generations to enjoy.

Join us in creating a monument in Mitchell Park that will allow residents and visitors, adults and children to interact with this President and be inspired by his character and ideals.



The artist for this project is Paula Zima, a sculptor with deep roots in San Luis Obispo County, having studied at Cal Poly and Cuesta College and created numerous several public sculptures in San Luis and Los Osos, including Mission Plaza’s iconic “Tuquski’ wa Suwa” (Bear and Child). Now based in New Mexico, Paula has been working on preliminary concepts for the monument for over a year and will further refine the proposal based on the sketch shown here.

The life-size bronze sculpture will be cast locally in Paso Robles.

I see the sculpture and its setting inspiring conversations among its visitors… Conversations that center on pulling people together, finding common ground; creating peaceful understanding between diverse or opposing viewpoints; working together to solve common problems; the value of preserving the natural lands and waterways of our beautiful country and planet for future generations to be inspired, awed and refreshed…
– Paula Zima

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John Ashbaugh

John Ashbaugh