St. Columban students tour history museum

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Third grade students from St. Columban School spent some time recently at the Stanley Ranch Museum and Historical Village in Garden Grove.

Costumed in old-fashioned hats and bonnets, the children learned about the city’s history in an old-time schoolhouse building.

“It’s fantastic,” said Bertha Avalos, a parent volunteer whose daughter is in the class. “It’s awesome. We’ve lived in Garden Grove for 16 years and I have never been here. I always pass by and wonder what it is. Miss Kay from our school set up this tour.”

Third grade students from St. Columban School spent some time recently at the Stanley Ranch Museum and Historical Village in Garden Grove.

Costumed in old-fashioned hats and bonnets, the children learned about the city’s history in an old-time schoolhouse building.

“It’s fantastic,” said Bertha Avalos, a parent volunteer whose daughter is in the class. “It’s awesome. We’ve lived in Garden Grove for 16 years and I have never been here. I always pass by and wonder what it is. Miss Kay from our school set up this tour.”

The children sat at old-style desks, using slates and chalk to do their historical-era classwork. For students used to having iPads on which to work in class, this was an interesting experience. Then, they took turns reading aloud from a replica McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader, originally published in 1879.

The class, led by Garden Grove Historical Society volunteer Nancy Phillips, posing as an old-time teacher, is part of the museum’s school tour program. Once the reading and discussion portion of the class was completed, students made a mouse magnet to take home as a souvenir. “It was cool making the mouse magnet,” said student Daniella Trejo, 8.

Miss Genny Kahlweiss was delighted with the program. “We have revamped our library and media center and are in the process of implementing STEM education and STEM culture. Our school is a one-to-one iPad school. It’s fun to have the students see what school was like in the 1800’s.”

The school building was one of three in town in 1922. The building at the museum property is the last survivor. The school is one of 17 buildings housed on 2 acres at the park located at 12174 Euclid St.

A few of the highlights of the property include the Schnitger House, post office and firehouse. Volunteers offer public tours each month, and school tours by appointment.

The Schnitger House, built in 1916, was located on the property that is now Ralph’s Grocery at Chapman and Euclid. The daughter of the Schnitger family is still a member of the Garden Grove Historical Society.

The home is the repository of a silent movie-era piano from the Gem Theater. Megan Galway, vice president of membership and a tour docent, shares information about the history of the home and its contents during tours. She showed off the dining room and kitchen that are as period-accurate as possible.

“Our kitchen even has an old waffle iron,” said Terry Thomas, president of the Historical Society. He, along with Galway, were happy to share stories and anecdotes about Garden Grove.

“We have photos of the packing houses,” said Thomas. “They are from the Garden Grove Citrus Association. We were the chili capital with our high school team called the ‘Chili Peppers’ for many years. The wood barn where the chilis were dried burned down due to the fire from the burners.”

Another room in the house contained old filmmaking equipment and projectors. One exceptionally large and old projector was from the Gem Theater. It ran 35mm film and is circa 1920s.

The house contains a bank teller’s cage from the First National Bank of Garden Grove. Many years ago, banks would issue their own money since it was mostly used in the local area.  A display of photocopies of some $5 bills hangs on the wall outside the teller’s cage.

In the post office, a replica Sears catalog from Spring 1902 is on display. The building is set up to represent how the real post office would have looked around that same time period.

An especially exciting building is the replica fire station of the original station that used to be in the city. It contains a 1926 Lafrance fire engine with Garden Grove No. 1 on the side.

Other rooms are the chief’s office, a memorabilia room with items back to 1927 that would have been a central meeting area for the firefighters, sleeping quarters, kitchen and hose-drying towers room. All of the rooms look finished, with the exception of the kitchen.  Local firefighters have been working on the project, along with society volunteers. 

All of the work at the site is completed by volunteers. As with most organizations, more volunteer help is needed. The museum board of directors is looking for people with some time available to help as tour docents, handyman-types who can do painting and repairs, and gardeners. Volunteers of all ages are welcomed.

Over the years, Boy Scouts have completed their Eagle projects at the site, along with individuals and groups who have volunteered their help.

“Docenting is really rewarding for history-type people,” said Lollie Beauchamp, archivist and treasurer. She, along with Thomas and Rosalie Clark, the organization’s secretary, would also like to remind residents about the fundraising events at the museum.

“On April 27, 28, and 29, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., we will hold our Barn and Book Sale.”

On the shelves that are being prepared for the sale are jewelry, stuffed animals, puzzles, books, greeting cards, craft supplies, Halloween costumes and too many more items to name.  The sale is huge and the money raised goes to benefit the museum.

For information about volunteering at the Barn and Book Sale, tours or donating money or items to the museum, call 714-530-8871.