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Renova Fort Ross Foundation: An International Partnership

Aerial View of Fort Ross State Historic Park

The Renova Fort Ross Foundation was created to serve as a key organization in raising private and public funding for Fort Ross State Historic Park. The historic site preserves the Fort Ross Settlement, a Russian colony founded in 1812 by members of the Russian-American Company. Never before has California State Parks entered into such an agreement with a foreign business group from a foreign nation for such a partnership. This internationally developed public-private partnership has resulted in the creation of a cutting edge program that serves the people of California and opens an important cross-cultural exchange between Russia and California. Beyond the financial help, the Renova Fort Ross Foundation partnership is especially fitting because this park is Russian in its origins and there is a strong attachment to the park from the Russian community living in California. The Foundation is making a significant donation to the State Historic Park for repair of the “Rotchev House,” a National Historic Landmark, in preparation for the Fort Ross Bicentennial Celebration in July 2012.

Fort Ross has always held a special place in Russian history. The idea of closing the State Historic Park due to budgetary issues caused a sensation in Russia and the Russian government dispatched Sergey Kislyak, its ambassador to the United States, to the historic outpost to show its support for the park and its shared history. Viktor Vekselberg, the billionaire president of the Renova Group of Companies, then developed a partnership agreement with California State Parks and established the Renova Fort Ross Foundation. The partnership agreement is supported at the highest levels of the Russian government.

Fort Ross or “krepost' rus',” as it was referred to by the Russian Colonists, was the Southernmost settlement in the Russian colonization of the North American Continent and operated until 1841.  Fort Ross was established as an agricultural base to supply Russian settlements in Alaska and was the site of California's first windmills and shipbuilding yard. Of historical importance is the “Commander’s House,” which is a National Historic Landmark. It is referred to as the “Rotchev House,” after the last Settlement Manager, Alexander Rotchev.  Originally built in 1812, the Rotchev House is almost 200 years old and is the only surviving original structure of the Fort Ross Settlement. It is the oldest building between San Francisco and Alaska, in its original location. Fort Ross SHP is located in Sonoma County and is one of California’s oldest state parks.

About Renova Group

Renova Group of Companies is Russia's leading private business group that consists of asset management companies in metals mining, oil, machine building, mining, construction development, energy, telecommunications, nanotechnologies, utilities and financial sector in Russia and abroad. The strategy of Renova Group is targeted at the acquisition of assets in industries with a significant growth and consolidation potential. The Group invests in large projects that extend an opportunity to control and engage in active management to create value and uses partnerships and alliances as an efficient tool to maximize the effect of joint investments.  For more information, visit their website at

“ What a magic place California is..... The best years of my life were spent there. 
I reverently carry the memory of them in my soul. ”
-- Alexander Rotchev

The Rotchev House at Fort Ross State Historic Park

Renova Fort Ross Foundation support has helped to repair the Rotchev House,
a National Historic Landmark at the State Historic Park.

" Two hundred years ago Russian settlers came to this faraway land guided by their aspiration to serve the economic and political good of their motherland. Their presence had a significant impact on the history of California ... But what is more important, Russian settlers came in peace and were good neighbors to Kashaya, Pomo, Miwok, Spaniards, Mexicans, and Americans... Since that time Russia and the U.S. went through different periods in their bilateral relations.... But Fort Ross will always be remembered as one of the most remarkable and successful stories of our relationship. Let me express sincere gratitude to all who help maintain and preserve Fort Ross, and wish you every success in this noble cause."

-- Sergey Kislyak, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States