In 1994 the PROS Commission created the vision of a historical park along Center Street in the East Village. The Cambria Historical Society took the first step toward that vision by restoring the Bianchini House (as it was known at the time), and opened it as the Cambria Historical Museum in December 2008. In 1978, neighbors organized as The Center Street Association arrested development of the property by having it placed on the National Register of Historic Places as of January 1980.
We are grateful to Marjorie Delyser, daughter of Clyde Meacham, The Cambria Courier’s editor (1916-1918), for resisting efforts to demolish the historic Maggetti House by purchasing and renovating it in 1976. We are also grateful to her grandchildren, the Balding family, for maintaining the Maggetti House over the years while it was used by various businesses, and making it available to the Cambria Historical Society as the second step toward the Center Street Historical Park vision.
The Historical Society has purchased the structure and now seeks community support to make the historic district the focus of our quaint village. Society President John Ehlers reports that “everyone is delighted that this house is remaining in the hands of those who appreciate its history. The current shop, Hidden Gate Antiques, will continue there in business for the time being.
“Strategic plans in the future for the Maggetti House include making it an office space and research facility for the public. The office in the current museum at Burton Drive and Center Street will be restored to the bedroom it once was. The purchase of the Maggetti House was initially made possible by an anonymous donor who wishes the contribution to be a challenge for other Cambrians to contribute towards the purchase and restoration of the house.”
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After its construction about 1875, it was owned and occupied by members of the Maggetti family until 1975; the tiny second story, accessed by a stairway 23 inches wide, was added in 1900. For 40 years, it was rented by Rocco and Elvira Bianchini Rava, when it was known as the Mushroom House, for a business that Rocco engaged in, gathering and drying mushrooms on the fence.
The Cambria Historical Society will begin a capital campaign to retire the new mortgage, having retired the initial mortgage on the Guthrie-Bianchini House two years ago. The 501(c)(3) organization depends on fundraisers, contributions and grants to support its operations and mission, so all donations are tax deductible.
The October Harvest Festival weekend of events has provided major funding in the past. This year the Farm and Ranch Tour featured the Derby Winery operation, the Crowther Avocado Ranch on the historic Van Gorden acreage, and the Hearst Arabian Horse Ranch on Pico Creek. The last of these is on the original Stagecoach Road that was replaced by old Highway 1, which used to meander along the coast as a two-lane road with single-lane bridges. Sixty participants on the tour were amazed by the lovely Spanish-style “barn” designed by Julia Morgan for William Randolph Hearst and his prize steeds, as well as the picturesque original stage coach stop building.
After watching the horses run through their paces, the group had lunch at the new Hearst San Simeon Warehouse, and toured the original wharf warehouses, which were at one time filled with artifacts acquired by Hearst for La Cuesta Encantada.
About the museum
The Historical Museum and Book Shop is staffed by volunteers from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday through Monday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday. The Heirloom Gardens are open every day, and nursery items propagated from the property are on sale in the backyard nursery.
For information, call 927-2891, or go to www.cambriahistoricalsociety.com. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/cambriahistoricalsociety.