Cambrian: Opinion

Cambria museum has big plans for the little Santa Rosa Schoolhouse

The Santa Rosa Schoolhouse in its original location.
The Santa Rosa Schoolhouse in its original location.

With this New Year 2018, we at the Cambria Historical Society have a whole raft of new plans for exciting times to come! The Board of Directors has been hard at work staffing the museum, and looks forward to including more members and volunteers in the Heirloom Gardens, as well.

We will be expanding operations into the blue Maggetti House next door, and cataloguing items that will be displayed in our present office as soon as it segues into a bedroom, as it was in the original home from 1869 to 1919. An even greater expansion includes planning for the ultimate move of the 1881 Santa Rosa Schoolhouse (currently in West Village on Main Street) to house artifacts, displays and activities that will especially attract visitors and youths to the town’s educational history.

This will not happen overnight. It involves a great deal of thought-provoking discussion about the pros and cons of its ultimate location, a timeline for the project and estimated costs. Original plans by the Cambria Community Services District Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commission more than 20 years ago may have to be adapted in light of changing circumstances. The schoolhouse was originally intended to be part of the “Historical Park,” or district, in the East Village where the town’s residential area was established along Center Street.

The Schoolhouse Committee, chaired by Laurel Stewart, will be seeking input by the public, as well as past CHS members, and seeking benefactors among the community’s businesses and families. Thanks go to the Cambria Lions Club for its stewardship since Delfino Virgil Molinari donated the structure to the Lions for ultimate use as a museum. It was moved from its original site along Santa Rosa Creek in 1964.

Several businesses have inhabited the venue, which also served as the initial venue for Cambria Center for the Arts Theatre. The CHS grants committee has acquired vintage materials, games and projects already in use that will be ready for children (and adults as well) to engage in during field trips and special events. The structure, with its working bell, is a delightful display in itself, and the public has long been interested in exploring its interior.

Upcoming events

The new year kicks off the annual membership drive, now even more exciting with these plans, and for traditional events such as Heritage Day in May and Harvest Festival of Events in October.

December will mark the Museum’s 10th Anniversary Celebration during Hospitality Night. The monthly schedule of speakers in the parlor is almost complete, and kicks off with keynote speaker Robert Pavlik at the annual Recognitions Dinner on Feb. 11, 2018 at the Cambria Pines Lodge.

Make your reservations now for the evening, which begins with no-host bar and social at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 and the speaker about 7. Contact event chairwoman Penny Church at 805-927-1442, via email at, online at cambria, or at the museum each weekend. Dinner choices include prime rib, macadamia-crusted halibut, gluten-free vegetarian lasagna, beverage, and pie for dessert. The event is also open to the public with paid reservation, and the cost is $40.

The keynote speaker Pavlik is a published author, poet and accomplished state historian; he is a member of various civic organizations, nonprofits, advisory committees and the Caltrans Historic Preservation Committee. His topic will be “The Life and Times of Russ Leadabrand: Folklorist, Historian, and Journalist.”

Leadabrand (1920-1994) was a prolific author and travel writer active in the Pasadena area from the 1950s through the 1980s. He and wife Audrey relocated to Cambria in 1985, when he wrote for The Cambrian and continued to write for other publications. He is especially known for his monthly contributions to Westways, the monthly magazine of the Automobile Club of Southern California.

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 Cambria Historical Museum and bookstore at 2251 Center Street 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, and like the museum’s Facebook page at cambriahistoricalsociety.