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Menlo Park History Museum

Original post made by Jim Lewis, Menlo Park: Downtown, on Feb 15, 2012

I was thinking the other day how nice it would be if the City of Menlo Park had a History Museum. Having incorporated in year 1927, many items of memorabilia are being stored in the Library basement and other parts of town.

A museum could be a place where several of these valued items could be on display, offer docent tours, be a place for lectures, discussions and overall a place of learning for students, citizens, reporters, researchers and basically the community.

Other cities have them. One only needs to go to Redwood City, for instance, to marvel at the museum located in the old court house on Broadway.

Lucy Stern in Palo Alto made a whole community center avaialble, that has stood the test of time and become a cherished asset. Public spirited citizens, such as Birge and Esther Clark, Lucille Package and others have helped to make dreams come true. The question is, might there be such a person or persons in Menlo Park? I sure hope so.

Comments (12)

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Posted by Lydia Cooper
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 23, 2012 at 7:23 am

Yes, it would be nice to have a "home" for our collections of pictures and memorabilia. When guests come by to do research or just to ask questions, unfortunately we put them at a desk surrounded by boxes and papers. But more importantly, we are not visible to the public.

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Posted by Jim Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Given the response to this posting with over 200 readers, the idea seems worthy of further pursuit. As it turns out, from time to time there are homes in Menlo Park that are destined for demolition. Perhaps one of them can be moved to one of the City's parks or other appropriate location. A free home and a free lot, plus moving and set up costs, whose costs are covered by a fund raising effort, may make for a winning solution. Does anyone know of a house available? Does a city parcel of land come to mind? Does anyone have a few extra dollars they can spare to help support the creation of a permanent home for this purpose?

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Posted by Jim Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm

A lot can happen in a day, none the less a week. This project is building up momentum, I'm pleased to say.

A house scheduled to be demolished in Menlo Park has been offered as a History Museum, so long as a piece of land to move it to can be found. It's a beautiful home with lots of charm and potential. This is exciting news which has the potential of materializing into a special asset for the entire community.

I spoke with a City Council member and they seemed inclined to support it. Certainly there are more questions than answers at the moment, but the challenge is certainly there.

If you are interested in lending a hand, feel free to chime in. Together, this dream could very well become come true.

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Posted by Jim Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm

As the project manager to coordinate the many components of this project, it has been most encouraging to receive a high level of encouragement. Several persons have also offered to jump start a fund raising effort, although that effort at this point is premature.

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Posted by Jim Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:36 am

I was at the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce this morning and noticed a sign in their conference room that read

Celebrate the Past
Imagine the Possibilities
Design the Future

The first line may be an excellent justification for the City moving forward with a Menlo Park History Museum. This may be a wonderful way to celebrate the past by providing resource materials to the community, offer docent tours, provide periodic lectures, seminars and meetings and other appropriate programs.

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Posted by Jym Clendenin
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 24, 2012 at 10:59 am

I notice that most of the cities on the Peninsula, even those much smaller than Menlo Park, have a history museum. Menlo Park has a rich history dating back at least to the 18th century, yet there is no venue for public presentation of historical materials. In many cities, a house with property is donated for a museum. In our case, if appropriate city-owned land can be made available--as at the Civic Center--a house otherwise scheduled for demolition (does this ever happen in MP?)could probably be moved and established as a museum in a cost-effective way. If such a museum is located near the MP Library, a basement might be included that could in the future (if desired) be connected to the Library basement to create a significantly expanded shared storage space.

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Posted by Here We Go Again!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Uh-oh, another Jim Lewis proposal!
Watch out for the ensuing one-man Blitzkrieg trying to push this bad boy forward.

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Posted by Ester Bugna
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm

As a 'native' senior citizen and member of the Menlo Park Historical Assoc.[MPHA] Board I endorse the vision for a Menlo Park History Museum. Our local history is rich and should be preserved and shared with the community - present & future. The founder's of the MPHA forty years ago had a similar vision. Most[if not all] Peninsula cities have historical museums or plans for such. Where have our community leaders been?

“A  generation  which  ignores  history  has  no  past  and  no  future”
Robert Heinlein, Science Fiction Writer

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Posted by Jim Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 3, 2012 at 6:26 am

Received a letter from the City about the History Museum. It says, by and large, that there is no interest in having a Museaum on City property. They suggested that I take it outside the city, perhaps on County land, such as Flood Park, off Bay Road. The concept of a History Museum is an excellent one, however, as they often say in real estate, its "location, location, location" that's important.

Perhaps a privately owned parcel can be found, close to the civic center or the downtown area. This would put it close to the Library, a center for learing and research. The Library also has a meeting room which may allow for lectures, discussions and other educational uses.

Progress sometimes comes with a price. Fortunately there is at least one benefactor that is willing to step up to the plate. The question is, will there be others?

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Posted by Craig Vicino
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 12, 2012 at 9:44 am

I think this idea benefits the taxpayer, it benefits the city and overall it is an improvement to the community. Placing the History Museum next to the Library makes it accessable to students and others doing research. The question is, how soon will it be available. I can't wait. Keep me informed.

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Posted by Donna Stein
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2012 at 11:26 am

Having a History Museum is a great idea. It would be nice to visit it and bring the kids. History is oftentime a precurer to the future. The more you know may help guide decisons for the future. The best place for a City museum would be at or near the civic center or the public library. I support those that are helping to make this available.

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Posted by Jim Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Support for this project seems to be growing. Several folks have already offered to help fund the project. Finding an ideal location remains a challenge. In Menlo Park, land is scarce and very expensive. As many Peninsula cities already have a History Museum, it's encouraging that there may eventually be one available in the City of Menlo Park. With Menlo Park's 100 year anniversary coming up, maybe by then this dream will come true.

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