Cambrian: Opinion

Corner lots, Cinco de Mayo and the sesquicentennial

The Rev. Tracy Vining is a popular guest at Heritage Day, offering a free walkabout to folks of all ages through the historical neighborhood aboard Jackson.
The Rev. Tracy Vining is a popular guest at Heritage Day, offering a free walkabout to folks of all ages through the historical neighborhood aboard Jackson. Special to The Cambrian

Corner properties typically are a prime location for many communities, and “downtown Cambria” is no exception.

In the 1890s, Sarah Guthrie and husband Samuel were noted for their lovely home on the corner of the residential area of Center Street and what was then Lee Street. In the Cambria Historical Museum, you can see them photographed proudly standing on the front porch of their lovely home, which is bedecked with heirloom roses still blooming in the gardens.

The last family that occupied the home was also noted for its hospitality, especially during the town’s rodeos and car races down the street behind the former Brambles, when the little village’s population swelled into the thousands. Luisa Bianchini’s husband, Eugenio, was famous for his barbecuing right there in the backyard.

The Cambria Historical Society continues the reputation as we host major fundraisers such as Heritage Day in May and Harvest Festival in October. In order to preserve and present the valuable heritage for the community, we have been maintaining the museum since opening in September 2008, after purchasing the formerly derelict structure and the three lots on which it stands for half a million dollars in 2001. During that time, we ran out of money with the project half finished.

Donations, memberships, and grants allowed us to continue and presently keep us afloat, since we have no civic funding as do some other community facilities. Last year, we also brought to fruition a longstanding plan to be the centerpiece for a historical district, by purchasing the blue Maggetti House next door for $300,000, which will ultimately house our office and archives. We depend on the good nature of our gracious volunteers, generous members and guests and events, which include the speaker series in our parlor.

Upcoming speakers

This sesquicentennial year’s Heritage Day will again feature all things old fashioned, with family fun for no admission fee on the grounds from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 28. Invite your family and friends to come along into a journey through the past, back to Cambria’s establishment in 1866, and observe craftsmen and women demonstrating and displaying their skills and wares. Inexpensive hot dogs, chili dogs and beverages will be available as you stroll about.

Stop inside the museum to enjoy the display about Cambria’s oldest structures, representing churches, Victorians and small homes, and the stucco buildings of the 1930s. We have an illustrated walking tour guide in our bookshop, which is chock full of historical factoids and photos. As a fundraising kickoff, historian Dawn Dunlap will speak in the parlor at 5 p.m. Friday, May 27, regaling us with tales and tidbits not normally found in local history books. The $10 admission fee for all will help support the CHS mission and programs.

On May 5, Cambrian columnist John FitzRandolph will regale us with tales of his fascinating life, beyond what you think you may know about him. In addition to touring with world-famous rock stars and chauffeuring Jerry Brown about, he has had some interesting and dangerous experiences as a print and broadcast journalist. He also has a story or two to relate about “Captain NitWit,” Art Beal. We begin the evening at 5:30 p.m. with thematic Cinco de Mayo hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Free to members as a perquisite, we ask a $10 fee, which is applicable to a $30 annual membership.

Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian and appears the first Thursday of each month.

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.cambriahistorical, and Like us at cambriahistoricalsociety.