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Santa Clara Historic Preservation Society Launches Speaker Series

When you think about agriculture in Santa Clara, you probably think about prunes and apricots. But the Santa Clara Valley’s agricultural history started with wheat.

On June 25, Harris Lass Museum board member and retired local history librarian Mary Hanel will give a free talk on the Valley’s evolution from grain farming to fruit orchards. Hanel’s talk also includes the history of the 1865  Harris Lass property, which once included a much more extensive farm and orchard — at one time 13 acres.

More than three years ago, the Santa Clara Historic Preservation Society was getting ready to launch a local history series at the Harris Lass Museum. But as with so much else, COVID shut down that plan.


Just when things started opening up, this year’s heavy rains necessitated many repairs that set the schedule back. But the museum is back now, and the June 25 talk will finally kick off the history series.

The talk will be held on the Harris Lass lawn on June 25th from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There will be chairs, water and cookies on hand, but bring your own lunch.

For more information, visit, email Or call the museum’s message line,( 408) 249-7905. You can RSVP, but reservations aren’t required.

The Harris Lass house will be open for tours on Saturday afternoon July 1, from noon to 2:00 p.m. There is also an exhibit of medicine and pill bottles from the museum’s collection. On Thursday, July 20, there will also be an antiques appraisal luncheon.

The speaker, Mary Hanel, worked for the Santa Clara City Library for 23 years. From 2004 until her retirement in 2017, she was the Library Program Coordinator for Local History & Genealogy, managing the Heritage Pavilion section of the Library.

The Heritage Pavilion houses one of the Bay Area’s finest genealogy collections; a California and Santa Clara city and county history book collection; plus scrapbooks, manuscripts, school yearbooks, city directories, photographs and clippings files about the history of Santa Clara.


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