I had the pleasure of an official tour through the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum with sweet Mr. Bill Jones who has donated nine years of devoted time and love into this prized building. The museum thrives in our community’s effort and donations. It’s generous volunteers, board members and contributors have made it possible to offer free admission to visitors for over 40 years!
As I followed Bill into the museum, I was blown away by the extensive collection of treasures that was so strategically placed. It was like a magician’s hat with endless exhibits and hallways. The building consisted of family heirlooms, brilliant machines and belongings that one might have considered a waste hundreds of years ago but they are now a valuable piece of history. We are so blessed to have this memorabilia donated by locals and visitors who truly understand the importance of sharing these things with us and our children.
I was amazed by the collection of Paso Robles High School yearbooks, dated as far back as 1904. Athletic gear, trophies and achievement awards were preserved and carefully displayed for future generations to see. The museum’s slogan “Preserving Yesterday for Tomorrow,” says everything.
The Paso Robles Downtown City Park was designed around 1890 by the town founders (one of them being Drury James, the uncle of outlaw Jesse James). The Carnegie Library opened in 1908 and is now home to the Paso Robles Historical Society. The Paso Robles Inn opened its doors in 1891 and is famous for its thermal springs which attracted visitors such as Teddy Roosevelt and Clark Gable to Paso Robles.
In 1914, well-known concert pianist Ignacy Paderewski visited Paso Robles for arthritic treatments at the hotel’s mineral hot springs. The locals would listen from outside with their lit torches as he would play for them from the hotel. An exhibit dedicated solely to Paderewski is located in the museum, offering interesting information about the celebrity as well as his contributions to our community.
New to the museum is a replica of downtown Paso Robles. Volunteers are concentrating closely on every detail as they construct the pieces in their workshop, located on the museum grounds. The large replicas include the original Paso Robles Inn and the iconic Acorn Building and clock tower. C.S.Smith Ammunition (a walk-in exhibit) is packed with memorabilia, including the 1890 penny-farthing (the first machine to be called a bicycle), which was ridden by Clark Sherwood from San Francisco to Paso Robles in four days in 1893. The bike was donated to the museum by Sherwood’s grandson, Gary Smith.
This museum is a true gem, holding everything from collections of barbed wire, antique typewriters and cars, to a one-room Creston schoolhouse built in 1886. It is incredible how much history is being kept under one roof. Our 89th Pioneer Day celebration is right around the corner, honoring the heritage of Paso Robles. Plan a visit to the museum and take a journey through history.
Paso Robles Pioneer Museum
Open Thursday through Sunday, From 1 to 4 p.m.
2010 Riverside Avenue