In celebration of Cayucos Heritage Weekend on May 15 and 16, the Cayucos History Museum will open an 11-panel exhibit focused on James Cass, who founded Cayucos.
A public reception will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Cayucos Visitor Center at 41 S. Ocean Ave. Then from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Christa Hozie and Traci Nickson, the new owners of the Cass House Inn at 222 N. Ocean Ave., will offer the public a chance to tour the rooms of the community founder’s original home as well as enjoy refreshments in the gardens.
Lou Smith, who has been Cayucos’ unofficial historian for more than 25 years, has been the curator of the Cayucos History Museum since it opened three years ago.
“We collected Cayucos artifacts for years, but until Shirley (Lyon) found us a home at the Visitor Center working with the Cayucos Chamber of Commerce, we randomly displayed items at locations around town,” Smith said. “This is our third exhibit, and it features Cayucos’ founder.”
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An 1800s Masonic sword that belonged to Henry Cass, son of James, is on loan for the exhibit from Cass’ great-great-granddaughter.
James Cass (1824-1917) traveled alone to America at age 12 from England. He worked on the Hudson River and in the West Indies before becoming a pilot on the Sacramento River. He tried gold mining and farming in the Sacramento County.
At age 43, with his wife and five children, Cass relocated to San Luis Obispo County, intending to farm. He instead established the village of Cayucos and developed it into a major California seaport.
By age 53, Cass was running his own shipping business, cattle, dairy and fruit ranches. He also developed a stage line between Cayucos, Paso Robles and San Miguel.
Lyon, president of the Cayucos Historical Society, said: “(Previous Cass House owner) Gary Bagnall spent years and his own money to restore the Cass House. One of the many artifacts from what he has given us is an original ledger from Cass’ General Store, with all the old names like Righetti and Filipponi who lived here — all handwritten transactions.”
According to Jenna Hartzell, customer services director at the Cass House Inn, “The Historical Society came to us in March about their James Cass exhibition, hoping we could join them for an opening reception. The timing worked out perfectly, as we will be opening the Cass House Inn at the end of May. It will operate as an inn and a venue for gatherings and weddings.”
The owners plan to open Five Olives Grill on the property in March 2016, Hartzell said.
For more information, contact Lyon at 235-8552 or Hartzell at 995-3669.