Encore Books– an Earth-friendly Alternative to Ebooks

Ebooks are convenient & earth-friendly, but most nothing beats turning the pages of a *paper* book.

Our used bookstore is an earth-friendly alternative to Ebooks. Visit for the largest selection of used bookstore on the peninsula, and leave knowing that your purchase directly benefits the programs of the Historical Association (like children’s school tours). It’s a win-win.

Best of all: 10/18-19, all books will be 1/2 off.

Exhibit Opening September 16: Scenes of San Mateo County

scenes of smc

The History Museum will open “Scenes of San Mateo County” on September 16, 2014, in the first floor central rotunda. The exhibition will feature eight original paintings of historic sites on the Peninsula. Stop by the History Museum to see artist renderings of some of the County’s most iconic sites: Old Adobe, by June B. Alley, 1964 (an oil painting depicting The Sanchez Adobe of Pacifica). Hillsbarn Theatre, by Robert W. Price, 1986 (a watercolor of the Theatre as it once stood on the old Borel Estate in San Mateo). Chinese Shacks and Vegetable Gardens of Pescedero, circa 1973 (watercolor of lost buildings). Hatch Mill, by E.H. Batchelder, 1967 (oil painting of historic lumber mill in Purrissima Canyon). Pulgas Water Temple, by Elizabeth Cassidy, circa 1986 (oil painting of the Canada Road monument, built to commemorate the completion of the Hetch Hetchy Water Project). Salt Pile, by Robert Price, 1986 (watercolor of Redwood City landmark). Pumpkin Field, by D.Young, circa 1986 (acrylic view of a Coastside Farm). Woodside Store, by Joan L Selby, 1954 (oil painting of iconic building on Tripp Road in Woodside). The exhibit will close December 31, 2014.

Hatch Mill Oil Painting

Acorns Needed

#DidYouKnow the The Ohlone, who lived on the Peninsula from 4000 BC to 1769 AD, ate acorns everyday.

The acorn harvest was one of the most important events of the year for the Ohlones. They gathered, dried and stored the acorns for use throughout the year.

Students partipating in the Providing Plenty program at the History Museum grind acorns to make flour like the Ohlones. The school program has become so popular that we now need to collect about 15,000 acorns every year.

Can you help by collecting acorns? Please deliver them to the History Museum. If you want to be part of an acorn gathering party or if you have an abundant supply of acorns that a gathering party can collect, please contact the Education Department.


Rancho Day Fiesta at the Sanchez Adobe

#DidYouKnow The Sanchez Adobe, a state historic landmark, is the second- oldest building in the county.

The Sanchez Adobe in Pacifica is one of three sites that the San Mateo County Historical Association runs programs at.

Don Francisco Sanchez, owner of Rancho San Pedro, built the Sanchez Adobe between 1842-1846. At his Rancho San Pedro, Don Francisco Sanchez raised cattle for the hide-and-tallow trade. In 1842, he started building an adobe home for his family.

The San Mateo County Historical Association has been interpreting the history of this county park for 35 years. During the Rancho Day Fiesta, a living history event, visitors will be invited to make adobe bricks, stamp leather, dip candles, make corn husk dolls, churn butter and participate in other rancho-era activities. The Alta California Dancers will be the featured entertainment, demonstrating dance steps of the mid-nineteenth century.


1906 Earthquake

#DidYouKnow The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake destroyed the third courthouse built on the site where the San Mateo County History museum currently sits. Everything but the dome was destroyed in the quake.



1906 Earthquake

The fourth and present courthouse was completed in 1910, and it still incorporates the stained glass dome of the previous courthouse building.



Upcoming Walking Tours

In celebration of Victorian Days, we still have a few walking tours left in the month of August. Get out there and learn more about this great county!

Redwood City: Union Cemetery – Saturday, August 16 at 10 a.m.
During a docent-led tour, learn how the redwood industry helped the famous people buried in Union Cemetery build Redwood City. The 19th century cemetery is located at Woodside Road and El Camino Real. Call 650.593.1793 for more information.


San Bruno – Saturday, August 16 at 2 p.m.
Join San Mateo County Historical Association President Mitch Postel in an exploration of San Bruno’s historic business district. Starting at the intersection of San Mateo Avenue and El Camino, the walk down San Mateo Avenue includes the original EIMAC building where vacuum tubes were produced for broadcast and radar transmitters.

Pescadero – Sunday, August 24 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Local historian and Pescadero History Society President, Greg Timm, will lead a walk through historic Pescadero, viewing historical homes, buildings, and churches, and discussing the people and changes of the Pescadero valley. We will meet at the Community Native Sons Hall. Please bring hats, sensible shoes, and water is advised. Please call 650.879.0882 or email gctimm@yahoo.com for any tour related questions. Donations to our Hall Restoration Project are appreciated.




Pacifica: Milagra Ridge – Sunday, August 31 at 1 pm.
Discover Milagra Ridge’s military history from World War II gun emplacements for coastal defense to the Nike missle launch site (1955-1974). The walk is led by Dave Bridgman, who was stationed at Milagra Ridge in the early 1970s. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Milagra Ridge is one of the few remaining habitats for the mission blue butterfly. Walking shoes are recommended for this two-hour hike on level ground. To get to the walk, from Sharp Park Road turn north on College Drive and continue about 1/4 mile to roadside parking at the Milagra Ridge gate. Parking is limited, carpools are encouraged.

Milagra Ridge MR Entrance Sign, photo by John Stanton 26 Aug 2009

Milagra Ridge MR Entrance Sign, photo by John Stanton 26 Aug 2009 

Announcing our 2014 History Maker

Y.A. Tittle at LSU.  Photo Courtesy of the Tittle family.

Y.A. Tittle at LSU. Photo Courtesy of the Tittle family.

We are pleased to announce that our San Mateo County History Maker for 2014 will be Y.A. Tittle, the long time Atherton resident and National Football League (NFL) Hall of Fame quarterback. Each year, the Association hosts its History Maker Dinner that highlights an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to our regional history and beyond.

Y.A. Tittle is a legendary figure in NFL history. He played (1948-1964) during what sports historians have referred to as the “Golden Era” of professional football, which included ten years with the San Francisco 49ers. He established a home with his family in Atherton and launched an important insurance business here on the Peninsula, working it while also playing ball.

In part, because of his four Most Valuable Player awards and being included in seven Pro Bowls, Tittle was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1971. His participation in the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of 1954, his development of the “ally-oop” pass in 1957, and the iconic photo of him sitting after being stunned as a result of a play in Pittsburgh in 1964, all give him legendary status in American sports history. I hope you will agree with our History Makers Committee that Y.A. Tittle will make a terrific recipient of our History Makers Award.



Docents Needed


The San Mateo County Historical Association is searching for enthusiastic and dedicated individuals to help history come alive as docents. There are opportunities at the History Museum in Redwood City, the Woodside Store in Woodside and the Sanchez Adobe in Pacifica.

Last year, over 19,000 students and adults attended school programs
at the Historical Association. At the History Museum, docents lead or
assist with hands-on school programs for first through fourth graders on
different themes of local history. At the Woodside Store and Sanchez
Adobe, docents assist the site managers with interactive school programs
for third and fourth grade students.

On the weekends, docents are needed to interpret the sites for the
general public. Docents operate the Sanchez Adobe on Saturdays and
the Woodside Store on Sundays. These docents meet and talk to visitors
who come from all over the world.

You can join our team of docents during the training in November.
On Saturday, November 2, participants will visit all three sites for
presentations on the Ohlones, the Spanish & Mexican Period and the early
American Period. Participants will also have a chance to try hands-on
activities from the school programs. Lunch and transportation between
the sites is provided. On Sunday, November 3, participants will explore
the American period and docent techniques. Then, participants will
learn about the docent experience from current volunteers. Site specific
training will continue in the weeks to follow.

Anyone interested in history and working with visitors is encouraged
to register. Find us on Facebook or visit our website for registration details.

Victorian Days at the Old Courthouse


ImageThe San Mateo County Historical Association will present its annual Victorian Days event on August 18, 2013 between noon and 4 p.m. at its San Mateo County History Museum, which is housed in the County’s Old Courthouse at 2200 Broadway in downtown Redwood City.  The program will take place from noon until 4 p.m.  ADMISSION to the Museum will be FREE that day.

Special children’s craft activities are featured and will include making thaumatropes (a moving picture plaything), fashioning picture frames, decorating tea cups, designing old-time hats and creating fans and toy pocket watches.  Youngsters will also learn “the code” of using calling cards, in vogue during the 19th century.

These activities are designed to assist the kids enjoy a Victorian Tea in the Museum’s historic Courtroom A.  The tea will be for adults too.  Four sessions are planned: 1:00, 1:45, 2:30 and 3:15.  Tea, finger sandwiches and scones will be served.  Reenactors will entertain the party goers by portraying well-to-do Peninsulans of the past who will gossip about their neighbors.  Learn about old-time fashion from models wearing Victorian clothes.  The tea will cost $5 for adults and $4 for children under 12.  Call 650.299.0104 to RSVP for a tea session.

Besides enjoying the Museum’s permanent and changing exhibits, visitors that day will be able to stroll “History Lane” on the Museum’s second level, which will have exhibits and representatives from many of the history groups of the Peninsula.

The Museum’s exhibits focus on use of natural resources, suburban development, ethnic experience and entrepreneurial achievement on the Peninsula from the times of the Ohlone Indian through to today.  Victorian Days at the Old Courthouse is sponsored by Cypress Lawn.