Share in a bit of history in downtown SLO
History comes alive in downtown San Luis Obispo at the History Center Museum, located in the charming Carnegie Library Building at 696 Monterey Street, as volunteers welcome visitors and locals alike to explore the past and look towards the future.
The History Center of San Luis Obispo County, an organization that underwent a recent name change, has witnessed celebrations of the county’s rich and complex history over the past decades beginning with the first community celebration, the Centurama, a one-week exhibit in 1950 to commemorate California’s 100th anniversary of statehood along with the creation of San Luis Obispo County.
A permanent County Historical Society was founded in 1953 when Paul Dallidet, son of pioneer French settler Pierre Hypolite Dallidet, gifted the family adobe to the non-profit with the understanding that he would occupy the space until his death. In 1956, the Society arranged to lease the 1905 Carnegie Library building from the County for its Historical Museum.
Volunteers and docents keep The History Center functioning today, greeting guests, interpreting exhibits, assisting members and visitors with research requests, and serving on various committees. Their efforts enable the Center to carry out its mission of promoting the understanding and appreciation of San Luis Obispo County’s historical and cultural heritage.
The Museum houses two galleries highlighting stories from the county’s past, a gift shop, and a Kid’s Room which has child-friendly activities and displays that correspond to the exhibits. Docents are available to provide guided tours of the exhibits, reservations are required for groups.
The First 50 Years of Freemasonry in San Luis Obispo features photographs and artifacts highlighting the rich Masonic history in San Luis Obispo and is on display through coordination with the Masons of San Luis Obispo.
Native Baskets: the Spirit That Binds features locally-collected baskets made by Native American artisans and highlights the function, form and natural fibers of over 40 unique baskets. The Painted Rock National Monument at the Carrizo Plains is a complementary theme as a symbol of unity for Central California Native Americans from before the Spanish conquest to the present.
The History Center Museum is open daily, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. It is located in the Carnegie Library Building at 696 Monterey Street, across Broad Street from Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Call (805) 543-0638 or check out historycenterslo.org for more information.
Take a walk through history – thanks to a generous grant from the City of San Luis Obispo’s Promotional Coordination Committee, free podcasts are available for downloading via iTunes of various tours, including:
- San Luis Obispo’s Historic Railroad District
- Darker Side of San Luis Obispo
- San Luis Obispo’s Historic Downtown
— Meagan Friberg