Mendocino Beacon
Friday, June 16, 1972

Mendocino County Museum Dedication

By Elsa Thompson

The dedication of the new Mendocino County Museum on Sunday, June 11th was a real mile post for the members of the Mendocino County Historical Society. It was a beautiful day, not too warm, everyone had jackets on due to the light breeze blowing. There were between six and seven hundred gathered in the Recreation Park across from the new Museum enjoying picnic lunches, with the Willits Soroptomist Club doing their bit in selling huge and highly complimented ham and turkey sandwiches and cake in most generous portions, and earned themselves a wonderful reputation as cooks.

A portion of the Fort Bragg Hill Billies played a music for the picnickers during the noon hour.

The Dedication ceremonies began promptly at 1 p.m with Superior Judge Timothy O'Brien as Master of Ceremonies, starting off with introductions of the group on the improvised stage in the shade of the huge oak trees in the Park.

Three Boy Scouts posted the American flag and the Bear Flag donated by the Native Daughters and Sons of the Golden West, which was followed by the National Anthem sung by Miss Katherine Corey, who was accompanied by Mrs. Nadeen Patton.

The Invocation was give by the Reverend Avery, of Willits, who first read an appropriate scripture from the Bible, followed by prayer blessing the Museum and its future, and the people who made it possible.

Supervisors Avila, Banker and Sawyers were introduced with running comments by O'Brien, while the Museum Advisory Board of the Society were called up on stage and introduced.

Les Divine, Museum Chairman of the Society spoke first, thanking the sponsors of the City of Willits, the County and Industry, and all the donors who made it possible to reach this point. R. Coke Wood, Secy. and Past President of the California Conference of Historical Societies, of Stockton; Richard Harvelle, P. President (Regional) of the California Conference of Historical Societies, of Eureka; The City elective officers of Willits; former Mayor Otis Smith; also former Mayor Leo Hulett were all thanked for their part in helping to build the Museum.

Mayor Ron Mitchell was next introduced and he spoke to welcome everyone to the City of Willits and the Museum, promising further cooperation with the County and the Society on the Museum.

Gary Antolini who came as a representative for Frank Belotti, of the State Assembly and his wife were introduced.

The First Dedication speaker was Andrew Genzoli, California State Historical Markers Committee, and Editor of Times Standard, a Eureka newspaper, for 31 years, and an honorary life member of the Mendocino County Historical Society, who told of comparisons with the Eureka area, and gave many compliments to the Society members and county officials and businesses for the fine Museum and his pleasure to be a part of the dedication.

Judge O'Brien next read a letter from Governor Ronald Reagan, and then one from Pat Nixon, wife of the President of the United States. Both were warm and friendly congratulatory letters.

Herbert Pruett, the new Museum Director was then called, but said he would be talking to everyone in the building.

Former Superior Judge Wayne Burke was the next speaker, told of the old days in the county as he remembered them as a boy, and what nostalgia came over him when he went into the Museum and saw all the old artifacts that brought, back many memories.

The old hearse brought memories of the difference in funerals, then it was a big thing, with a band playing and the mourners, following behind from the center of town on foot, and the mourners helping to fill the grave.

He told of the Ledford brothers whose stage is on display, and ran from Boonville to Navarro, which was then on the coast the pressent Navarro was then Wending.

How the streets of Ukiah were paved using 8" tamps to pound it in place, and how the county roads were centered with river rock and in summer they drove the teams on the side, but in winter they were glad to get out of the mud and drive on the rocks, pounding them down with the wagon wheels and making a good road bed.

He thanked the Society for the privilege of being there and dedicated the Museum building to posterity, hoping they would appreciate our generation more because of it.

Mr. Scaramella, former County Supervisor for 18 years, and now President of the Society was the next speaker. He thanked the Society members, the guests, business men and officials of Willits and the County for their cooperation, saying that the dedication of this Museum was one of the High Points of his life. That he was not native born, but was by choice and no place could take the place of Mendocino County in his estimate.

That he was proud to be a part of this project, and though we were not from a group of young people, but an older group with lots of vim and vigor left.

He introduced the memhers of the Board of Directors of the Society and named George Ward as the first President of the Society, then introduced Architect Designer Boyd Brown.

He then reminded all that this was not the end for the Society's building project, that more buildings were necessary to house the many exhibits we already had, and would be coming.

Then he passed the key to Ernest Banker, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, who took it saying, "The impossible has been completed," and promising that the County would continue to maintain it. The reigning queen of Mendocino County was introduced and given the key, and she led the way to the Museum, cut the ribbon and opened the doors for the, crowd.

During the afternoon the square dance clubs of the county were dancing, and everyone enjoyed watching them or walking around to study the artifacts and displays.

A young lady from the Bay area was demonstrating spinning upstairs, both by hand and with the wheel, assisted by her two daughters, one three or four years old who almost mastered the hand spinner, the other five or six years, was weaving.

All through the building were lovely flower arrangements by the Willits Garden Club.

It was a wonderfully thrilling day, especially for those involved.

Some of the friends and sponsors of the Museum from out of town were: Alice Earl Wilder of Ben Loman, Mrs. Pierce; and Mrs. Grace Scopocek of Oakland, Ben Halliday of Menlo Park, his sister Florence Halliday, and brother Tom.

From Santa Rosa were Mrs. Mary Grant, Mr. and Mrs. James Grant, Mrs. Mabel Falleri; Mrs. Gayle Bolger and son Brett, of Petaluma, Mr. and Mrs. Vic Anderson of Redding.

Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Batt, of Healdsburg; Mr. and Mrs. Richard Harville, Mr. and Mrs. Dayton Murray, Andrew Genzoli, all of Eureka; Mr. and Mrs. Coke Wood, of Stockton; and from San Francisco, Dorothy Bohn, John Dias, Marian Faganini, Joe Incerti, Deo and Rudolph Hamnond and from Fortuna Burt Chapman.

Mr. and Mrs. Boyd Brown of Oakland, Mr. and Mrs. John Keller of Lafayette and many, many others.


Back to "About the Society"

HomeJoin the SocietyE-Mail

Copyright 2001 Mendocino County Historical Society