May 25, 2019
By Holly Hoods,
Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society
What’s better than a free day trip? There are many inexpensive treasures hidden in plain sight in our wonderful Sonoma County. The Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society is one local gem that offers free time travel to visitors and locals alike.
The Museum is located in Healdsburg’s former Carnegie Library, a National Register Historic Landmark, which was designed by noted Bay Area architect Brainerd Jones and built in 1911. This beloved local building was adapted for reuse as a regional history museum in 1990 through a City and community fundraising effort in 1988-89 that raised half a million dollars to refurbish and retrofit the structure.
Originally a City-owned and operated museum from 1976-1993, the Museum is operated by the Board of Directors and professional staff of the Healdsburg Historical Society. The Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society (HM&HS) is a registered California 501 (c)3 nonprofit institution, supported by membership, business partnerships, donations, grants, fundraising events and interest from an Endowment portfolio. This support keeps the Museum open and free to all.
The HM&HS collects, protects, preserves and interprets the artifacts, documents and photographs that trace the rich history of Healdsburg and the surrounding area through exhibitions, educational programs and historical research. Exhibitions change every four months in the main gallery. The first floor gallery is currently displaying “The Photographic Legacy of Mervyn Silberstein,” a small exhibition highlighting the youthful career of a professional photographer who chronicled early 1900s Healdsburg.
“Roots of Healdsburg Wine Agriculture” opened May 23 andwill be on display through November 10. This exhibition focuses on what makes this place special as a wine growing region and the forces that shaped the early wine industry from the rancho era to the first winery in Healdsburg and the growth of an industry up to Prohibition. Created by Bo Simons, retired Sonoma County Wine librarian, working as guest co-curator with Museum Executive Director/Curator Holly Hoods, the “Roots of Healdsburg Wine Agriculture” was funded by a generous grant from the Healdsburg Tourism Improvement District (HTID).
The new exhibition features timelines of regional wine history, ethnic contributions, labor history, the context of other crops and the local resistance to Prohibition. The rise of Italian Swiss Colony and the California Wine Association is part of the larger wine story. Wine-related sub-industries, such as the Healdsburg Machine Shop, Cream of Tartar Works and Concentrated Must Company are also featured. The Museum is displaying never-before, newly-acquired wine artifacts and equipment, as well as borrowing significant items from Dean Walters of the California Early Wine Trade Museum and Jim McCormick of the California Wine Museum. The photos, artifacts and stories transport the visitor back to another time.
The first floor of the Museum is also a treasure trove for the curious minded. The Museum boasts an extensive local history library full of Sonoma County history books, genealogical publications, photos, maps, records, subject and people files, digitized copies of 130 years of local newspapers, plus a searchable database of local history. Museum curators are on hand to help adults and kids learn about and appreciate the rich history of our local area.
Another fun and free history day trip can be found hidden in plain sight on a shaded knoll at 601 Piper Street east of Recreation Park and the Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Many locals have never visited this beautiful spot. The Healdsburg Museum has led recent efforts to restore the 1876 fountain and 1859 pioneer cemetery where the town ancestors are buried. Oak Mound Cemetery’s pioneer graveyard is an ideal scenic spot in town for packing a picnic and taking a walk back in time through a wooded, peaceful history park. Why not start at the Museum and devote a whole day to time travel?
The Healdsburg Museum, 221 Matheson Street, is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11-4:00 pm.
Oak Mound Cemetery,601 Piper Street, is open Monday – Sunday, 8-5:00 pm.
For more information, contact https://www.healdsburgmuseum.org or707-431-3325.
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