The Museum is the result of the desire of Mission Peak Heritage Foundation (MPHF) and Washington Township Historical Society (WTHS) to have a permanent place to display the historical artifacts collected over the years. The two historical organizations formed the Museum of Local History Guild and elected a Board of Directors. The Guild board ensures that education, archival research and preservation of the historical resources of Washington Township are the focus of the museum.
The building was built by the Mission San Jose Fire district about 1954. The local people raised the money, bought the property and erected the building. Volunteer fire fighters manned the department until it was taken over by the City of Fremont. It served as Fire Station #4 until a new facility at Pine Street and Paseo Padre Parkway was built in 1994. At that time, this building was redesigned and leased to the Guild for use as a museum.
Washington Township, or The Tri-City Area includes: Union City (Decoto and Alvarado), Newark, Fremont (Niles, Centerville, Irvington, Mission San Jose, Warm Springs). This display focuses on theses small towns with early town photos and maps.
Getting Around / Transportation
The two carriages emphasize what it was like before the automobile. The livery stable supported people to take care of a horse just like a service station or garage supports people to take care of an automobile. Explore different modes of transportation through pictures and artifacts in this exhibit. There are older tools on display.
The Irvington gravel pits, known as Bell Quarry, are located off of Osgood Road. From 1944 to 1960 the Boy Paleontologists of Hayward unearthed plant and animal fossils including mammoths, saber cats, horses, camels, and even rodents from the Bell Quarry. Explore the fossils uncovered and imagine what this place looked like thousands of years ago.
When I was Growing Up
This exhibit has collections of different everyday artifacts. Look for a cup for a mustached gentleman, and a game that is played today. The bird egg collection was a popular hobby in the Victorian times.
In this exhibit you can compare and contrast the items from schools of yesterday with schools of today. Memorabilia from various schools and various time periods include the giant school bell, two desks, school books, games, etc. The first high school in Washington Township, Washington High School, was the second public high school district in the State of California.
Growing and Raising Food
Agriculture has played a major role in the area’s development. Discover that we had vineyards, fields of grain, orchards, dairies and ranches, produce farming as well as nurseries and poultry farms. Three panels summarize this history. The wine press, wine bottles, produce boxes, and a picture of cannery workers help tell this story.
Buying What You Need
The towns were the center of commercial activity. This exhibit gives a taste of some of the local businesses and items commonly used or sold in a business. The mercantile store was the center of each town, often housing the post office. Cloverdale Creamery produced, sold, and delivered milk products throughout the area from 1927 to 1994.
Mission and Rancho Days
After the exploration of the Ohlone lands by the Spanish, the Mission and the Rancho eras were times of large land ownership when livelihoods centered on cattle raising. Hides and tallow were shipped from the embarcaderos. Community celebrations were focused around the Mission and later at the Ranchos. Display items are from the Vallejo family of rancho days as well as a model of the Higuera Adobe (from Rancho Agua Caliente) and pictures of the Mission.
Home Sweet Home
Every member of a family was expected to contribute to its welfare. Although women did some outside chores, their primary tasks were child rearing, cooking, and providing clothes for the family. To accomplish this, women spent hours quilting, knitting, and sewing clothes. Compare the kitchen and washday exhibit to what are in homes today. Items include a mangle, sadirons and a 1950s washing machine.
Movies in Niles
Niles was known as a Pacific Railroad hub, and was home to Essanay Movie Studios from 1913-1916. This display includes pictures of silent film stars Bronco Billy, Charlie Chaplin, and items form the Niles area, including a “Niles” brick.
Mission Shoe Store
Sit at the Cobbler’s bench and play with the tools. Trace your footprint and measure it as if you were to order a pair of shoes from the shoemaker, Joseph Sunderer.
Meeting Friends and Having Fun
Church, clubs, and society gatherings were cherished interludes to hard work days. Music was often a center of family and community gatherings. The grand piano was owned by C J Stevens of Centerville. It was shipped from New York around the horn in 1860. The radio and phonograph were new diversions in the 1920s and 1930s.
Entertainment included going to restaurants and gathering places for dances and meetings. The curio shelf, mahogany table and display cabinet are from the Alvarado Hotel. The cape was used for special occasions by Sarah Delina Mowry. On the table you can explore the items used at gatherings. The movie projector is from the Center Theater.