Cambrian: Opinion

Michael Semas to speak at Recognitions Banquet

The International Order of Odd Fellows Hall was the first in town to be constructed of brick, at the southwest corner of Main and Bridge streets. It was the center of one of Cambria’s fraternal organizations in its heyday and replaced an earlier mercantile business and post office.
The International Order of Odd Fellows Hall was the first in town to be constructed of brick, at the southwest corner of Main and Bridge streets. It was the center of one of Cambria’s fraternal organizations in its heyday and replaced an earlier mercantile business and post office. Special to The Cambrian

“Never assume, and never take anything for granted.” That could well be the motto for the Cambria Historical Society’s Recognitions Banquet on Sunday, Feb. 12, beginning with a social hour at 5 p.m. That is 10 days from now, and we don’t want to assume you are coming — we need your reservations now, so please contact Penny Church at 805-927-1442 now, or sign up on our website.

The evening promises to be of special interest to the general public as well as members, so you are cordially invited to join in and see the fantastic Power Point presentation of photos and postcards accrued by Michael Semas, illustrating the fantastic history of the Central Coast.

Semas lives in Hanford but has special ties to Arroyo Grande, where he has also spoken before the Historical Society. We were impressed by his lively, knowledgeable and humorous talk to the Fresno Genealogical Society in Fresno, and we were grateful to be able to invite a speaker of his caliber to give our keynote.

We also post frequently from his site on Facebook, so check out the vast variety of his collection of more than 20,000, at Antique Images from the Collection of Michael J. Semas. They also include places from where you may have come in Southern and Northern California.

Recognizing past, present efforts

As we acknowledge those who give selflessly to make the Historical Society and its programs happen, we do not take for granted those who voluntarily paved the way for our current success. Noting that Priscilla Comen and a committee of nearby residents applied for and got the Guthrie Bianchini House listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 (the listing was granted in 1980), we sought to contact her. The community owes her a debt of gratitude for saving the dilapidated residence from demolition or development with a 25-page illustrated document, until the Historical Society was able to purchase it from Probate Court in 2001.

Through extensive research, we found her named as a volunteer only in a footnote on a research paper in Mendocino, and ultimately were able to contact her with an invitation to come for recognition. Unfortunately, she and her husband are not able to attend, but send their regards and appreciation for all who have continued the good work on our museum and heirloom gardens.

Thanks to Ken Cooper, Wilfred Lyons and others who established the Historical Society, and thus were able to form a repository for the Paul Squibb collection and more from some of our pioneer families.

Kathe Tanner, Susan McDonald, Sharon Lovejoy, Mike Rice, Dawn Dunlap and others have inspired efforts to save the Bianchini and its heirloom plants.

It is our intention to house archives and have them accessible for research next door to the museum, as soon as we are able to pay off the current mortgage on the Blue Maggetti House, which we purchased two years ago from the family of Evelyn Delyser. It is interesting to note that in the 1940s, Evelyn lived on Lee Street (now Burton Drive), bought the Blue House, and renovated it without compromising its historicity. Although she did not reside there, several businesses have been housed in it.

Bruce Black is to be commended for his devotion to restoration, as he has done a remarkable job on the Squibb House. Did you know that there was an identical Victorian on the corner of Burton and Center until the 1930s? But that is another story. Ruth Nichols recently beautified the Music House on Main Street, after acquiring it from prize-winning musician Jude Johnstone, who lived there 27 years with husband Charles Duncan and daughters Emma Duncan Went and Rachel Duncan. It is the oldest house in continuous residency in Cambria, perhaps San Luis Obispo County. It is across from the Olallieberry Inn, also lovingly maintained from Cambria’s earliest days.

An inexpensive booklet about the town’s historical structures is available in our bookstore.

Consuelo Macedo’s column on North Coast history and Cambria Historical Society activities appears the first Thursday of each month and is special to The Cambrian.

About the museum

The museum and bookstore at 2251 Center St. at Burton Drive are staffed by volunteers from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday; the heirloom gardens and backyard nursery are open all day every day. Phone: 805-927-2891. Go to www.cambriahistoricalsociety.com and www.facebook.com/cambriahistoricalsociety.

Be a part of Cambria’s history and its future by becoming a family or business member. You may also get up close and personal and learn even more intriguing facts by enlisting as a docent with Penny Church at 805-927-1442. Sign up now for an informative three-hour orientation, and make the commitment to work alongside our experienced volunteers. To assist in the gardens, call Consuelo Macedo at 805-927-3159.

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