Outside the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum on Sept. 28 were children panning for gold during the museum’s 11th Anniversary Celebration. According to Laura Babcock, Director and Founder of the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum, Martin Murphy Jr., founder of Sunnyvale, had brothers who were involved in the Gold Rush. So there is a town out in the Gold Country named Murphy. Such were many nuggets of Sunnyvale and California history that attendees of the celebration might have learned about at the celebration.
“The Sunnyvale Historical Society and Museum Association raised money and built this building,” Babcock said. “We have continued to operate it. We are completely independent from the City of Sunnyvale. Money raised from the Historical Society is used to fund this museum. The Historical Society is a 100 percent all volunteer organization, which is rare.
“We have a new entrance and front gate and new exhibit front doors — this was planned for the 10-year celebration last year,” Babcock continued. “There was a delay in construction, and so this year we are celebrating the dedication of the new exhibits that we put in and the signage. The outdoor permanent exhibits are new, such as the original El Camino bell that was in Sunnyvale dated to 1906. We are also showing the cornerstone and original bell from the original Sunnyvale City Hall in 1929, Hendy Iron Works and a vintage manhole cover.”
“This museum was built as a replica for Martin Murphy Jr.’s former home in 1850,” added Linda Kubitz, Museum Volunteer. “The project to build this museum started in 2006 and it completed in 2008.”
The first floor of the museum included a replica of a bedroom in the Murphy home, which came with a chamber pot at the foot of the bed. Inside the parlor was an elaborate table setting and Museum Volunteer Elisabeth Koning playing the classics on the piano. Upstairs was a room showing the Historic Walking Tour of Murphy Avenue, which advertised businesses such as Josephine’s Beauty Shop with styling tools and Clark’s Country Store with a spool cabinet. Across the hall, Fremont High School’s Robotics Team gave demonstrations throughout the day, tying Silicon Valley’s past to the present.
On the lawn was a covered wagon owned by Carol Verbeeck and Bruce Horttor. The couple runs California Bound, which shares educational living history programs.
“This is the typical size of a farm wagon going west on an overland trail to California pre-Gold Rush in 1844,” Verbeeck said. “It’s 10 feet long and less than four feet wide. Think of this as a trunk on wheels. Your clothing, bedding, tools, food and everything you’d need for your new life in California is in this wagon. The people who made this overland journey from the Iowa territory shared the trail with those bound for Oregon.”
On the patio were a number of women with Portraits of the Past dressed in period attire from around 1849 to 1890.
“We’re here providing ambiance and we provide the atmosphere to make people feel like they’re back in time,” said Gloria Green, one of the costumed women.
Visit the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum at 570 E Remington Dr. in Sunnyvale or visit their website at heritageparkmuseum.org.